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GRAPH EXPO & CONVERTING EXPO 2003--Binding and Finishing

November 2003
A Strong Finish

Optimism was sky-high throughout the exhibit halls during GRAPH EXPO and CONVERTING EXPO, held in Chicago this past September.


A sizeable segment of the vendors noted that there appeared to be more printers and trade finishers touting checkbooks—and fewer tire kickers at McCormick Place. Whether it is the first signs of economic recovery and prosperity in this country remains to be seen, but big crowds on the show floor was certainly a good sign. And it wasn't just the prepress and press vendors that reported brisk activity—those pitching finishing products found the latest GRAPH EXPO to their liking.

"We did very well. The show was extremely busy with a lot more people in attendance compared to the last three years," notes Jeff Marr, vice president of sales at Colter & Peterson. "I think the difference this year is that many people were looking to make some changes and upgrades in their plants. I came away from the show with very positive feelings."

Colter & Peterson's main thrust was its introduction as a new distributor for the Wohlenberg line of cutters, one of three brands the company highlighted.

While Marr didn't see a rush toward any one item in particular, he sees a buzz being generated around material handling equipment. "That's something that has really caught on in the past few years," he says.

While order writing was brisk, Marr had the opportunity to set up a number of post-show appointments. He is also a believer in the brighter economic forecast.

"In the past few years, it was basically a lot of people just looking around," he says. "But, when the doors opened on Sunday (the first day of the show), attendees flooded in. We were real busy both Sunday and Monday, from morning until night."

Action was also brisk over in the finishing area of the Heidelberg booth. Making its world debut was the high-speed Speedbander 603 banding system. The Speedbander includes automated features such as counting, pressing, jogging and banding.

Heidelberg also pulled up the curtain on the Dymatrix diecutting system, formerly known as the Jagenberg WPM 304, for the first time under the Heidelberg name. The cutter is billed as the only platen press in the industry with an upper moving platen equipped with roller bearings and motorized adjustment of cutting pressure.

Mechanical Debuts

The Probinder wire comb binding system was also showcased for the first time. It can handle between two and 200 sheets of 55-lb. offset or 30-lb. cover stock, with a maximum document thickness of 3⁄4˝.

Meanwhile, Standard Finishing Systems launched the new Standard Horizon AFC-744AKT floor-model folder. Designed for commercial printers, in-plants and binderies, the AFC-744AKT includes advanced setup automation through a user-friendly, color touchscreen control panel that displays fold formats and sheet sizes for easy selection.

Up to 100 different job settings can be stored in memory, and automated setup can be accomplished in seconds. Precise stepper motors drive end stops and fold plates to the exact location for the sheet size and fold style selected. The AFC-744AKT can handle a wide range of papers up to a maximum sheet width of 29.1˝, at speeds up to 36,000 sph.

"This show has been spectacular," reported Mark Hunt, vice president of marketing at Standard Finishing Systems. "As an industry, we've been wandering in the desert for several years, and now this is no mirage; we've found water. There were occasions during the show when we didn't have enough people or enough equipment to conduct all of the demos that we needed to do."

Similar buyer interest was reported at the MBO America booth. More than 20 new folders were sold during the show, including MBO's CIP 3/4-ready Perfection folders equipped with Navigator, Rapidset and other automation and makeready options, as well as its "B" series machines. Also sold were various Wohlenberg cutters, Theisen & Bonitz collators, H&H equipment and hhs gluing systems.

These included, among others, orders from Schumann Printers, Falls River, WI, for a B26-S/44 Perfection folder with Rapidset and Navigator; Elk Grove Village, IL-based Binderyonics, for two B26/44 machines; Quebecor Petty Graphics, Effingham, IL, for a B26-S/44 Perfection with a BA-700 bander; and Bograma equipment for Mulligan Printing in St. Louis.

"In the future, binderies will require postpress equipment to be equipped with CIP 3/4 capabilities," notes Hans Max, MBO president and CEO. "This interface will allow faster makereadies, quicker job turnarounds and greater overall flexibility. And, if a printer incorporates a CIP 3/4 workflow and a trade binder doesn't, that printer will take his business somewhere else." MBO America signed on recently as a Networked Graphic Production partner, the industry initiative started by Creo to deliver the value of JDF and integration throughout the workflow.

Max also reported strong interest in Bograma automatic cut, punch, hole-punch and perforating machines, which MBO America distributes. The Bograma BS Multi 450 and BS Multi 750 units can work off-line or in-line with a folding machine or gatherer-stitcher.

The BS-450D offers an additional knife for face-trimming. The BS Multi 450S and 450D have a maximum impact area of 17.5x8.5˝. The BS Multi 750S has a maximum impact area of 26.5x8.5˝.

Actual equipment sales and strong leads were due, in part, to MBO customers and prospects reporting that market conditions seem to be stabilizing. "People were saying that business is more stable, and many are now reporting more work coming in than before," Max adds.

Having enjoyed much success with the unveiling of the Watkiss SpineMaster, A.B.Dick used GRAPH EXPO as a launching pad for the Watkiss Auto SpineMaster.

"We believe (the Auto Spine-Master) addresses a critical part of the market that customers are looking to address this year," states Scott MacKenzie, A.B.Dick vice president of marketing. "Our customers are interested in finding the right package of equipment for their shops, from prepress to postpress. They've learned that to be most effective with the bottom line, you can't settle for two-thirds of the equation. Keeping the work in-house allows them to control the job and maximize profits."

The Auto SpineMaster processes up to 1,400 booklets per hour and is adjustable for different book thicknesses, up to 1⁄4˝. It's designed to help users produce short- to medium-size runs of booklets with large paginations. A double processing function handles extra thick or laminated stock covers.

Duplo USA made a splash with the introduction of its latest bookletmaking and collating system, the System 5000. First launched at IGAS, the System 5000 incorporates DC-10/60 collating towers, the DBM-500 bookletmaker, face trimmer and precision stacker.

Among the features is a set accumulation system that eliminates the need for separate solutions for traditional and digital users. It produces up to 4,500 booklets per hour and operates at high speeds to maximize offset jobs. A center referenced paper transport system provides a fully automated sheet transport system easily incorporating the entire range, from minimum to maximum sheet sizes, without any manual operator intervention.

At the Muller Martini booth, a live multimedia presentation titled "Connect to the Finish" was showcased. The presentation included videotaped visits of facilities that use Muller Martini products, as well as live demonstrations on how the CIP 3 PPF architecture is making finishing a vital part of the computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM) workflow. The overall aim was to show printers and binders how they can drastically reduce their makeready times and grow profits simultaneously.

Muller Martini showed the first JDF integration of job data taken directly from Creo's Up Front to a Muller Martini stitcher. Muller Martini has also joined the Networked Graphic Production initiative.

On the product end, the automated AmigoDigital short-run, perfect binding system was showcased. Based on the AmigoPlus model, AmigoDigital's major advancement is its ability to connect directly to a digital printing system and produce as many as 1,000 variable books per hour in-line.

Two popular Muller Martini saddle stitching lines, the BravoPlus AMRYS and Presto with in-line diecutting, were also emphasized. The AMRYS (Automatic Make-ready System), which received a 2002 GATF InterTech award, features the integration of the CIP 3 interface. The Presto was linked to a Multi 450 diecutter to produce miniature and uniquely shaped stitched books in a single pass.

Books for a Good Cause

As a sidelight, the Chicago Public Schools are the recipients of 3,000 copies of a trio of literary classics courtesy of the Books for Schools program, sponsored by Muller Martini and Delphax Technologies.

The classics are The Last of the Mohicans, Peter Pan and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Last year, the New York City Department of Education was the beneficiaries of the program.

"Printing makes reading possible," states Werner Naegeli, president and CEO of Muller Martini. "Our Books for Schools program puts an exclamation point on that often overlooked fact, and lets thousands of children add classic titles to their home bookshelves. And, as everyone knows, when you own a book, you're more likely to read and enjoy it."


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