In-Line vs. Off-Line — Cross the Finish Line
PI: Who benefits from using near-line finishing?
James: Since many printers will have both digital and litho printing capabilities, this offers clear benefits in terms of flexibility and cost-effective utilization of the equipment. The production rate for this type of near-line finisher means it will easily accept the output of several printing devices, including that from offset presses.
Often, printers are pleasantly surprised to discover that the cost of a near-line system is lower than an in-line alternative. It also requires less floor space and can be positioned wherever it is most convenient in the print room.
PI: What are the production benefits?
James: A near-line finisher offers the flexibility to add litho printed covers, on glossy or even laminated stocks, and digitally printed sets. It also allows the print production rate of the digital printer to be optimized according to the run length and pagination of the document.
Also, in order to finish a booklet in-line, 81⁄2x11˝ sheets must be printed portrait (short edge leading) so they are in the correct orientation to go into the finisher. However, most printers run faster if those same sheets are printed landscape (long edge leading). Near-line finishing allows the production rate to be optimized according to the printing parameters, without affecting the finishing process.
PI: What are near-line's challenges?
James: Customer perception is probably the most challenging; they assume that in-line is always the faster and cheaper finishing solution.
PI: How do you see this market segment growing?
James: Right now, quick, small- and mid-size commercial printers, as well as in-plant operations, are the ones using near-line finishing. But, the near-line segment will continue to grow.
The production rate of near-line finishers means it will easily accept the output of several printing devices, including from offset presses. Since many printers have both digital and litho print capability, this offers clear benefits in terms of flexibility and cost effective use of the equipment. In contrast, linking a finisher to a single digital printer appears to be very poor use of capital resources.