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JUST-IN-TIME FINISHING -- Flying to the Finish

April 2002

The whole point of on-demand printing is to get the customer his or her print order in a short amount of time. So you have an army of 100+ ppm printing devices and you can churn out short-run, digital documents like there is no tomorrow.

That is all well and good, but customers are looking for finished documents—books that are bound, brochures that are folded and marketing materials that are cut, slit and punched.

Out of necessity, digital and on-demand printing has become more and more popular in the commercial printing world. According to CAP Ventures' 2000-2005 U.S. Print On Demand market forecast, print volumes in the digital color market are increasing by about 25 percent annually. Obviously, the need for on-demand finishing capabilities follows right along with these figures.

One prime example of a commercial printer that understands the ins and outs of both on-demand printing and finishing is Carol Stream, IL-based Copresco, which is strictly a digital printer. By not using traditional offset presses, the company has a distinct advantage when it comes to on-demand work, notes Copresco President Steve Johnson.

No Drying Time

"This means no offset inks and no drying time," Johnson points out. "That is an essential consideration for on-demand finishing, where the binding process may begin as soon as the first copy of a book comes off the press."

Johnson stresses that Copresco never allows the fact that its jobs are printed on-demand to limit the client's binding options. Nor is print-on-demand an excuse for inferior quality, he says. Copresco offers wire stitching (corner, side, saddle), mechanical (GBC, plastic coil, double-loop wire) and adhesive (perfect, tape) binding, as well as drilling, shrink-wrapping and insertion into ring binders for looseleaf books. Case binding (hard cover), Otabind (lay flat) and single-loop wire (spiral) are outsourced to trade binderies.

To satisfy the on-demand finishing needs of its printing operation, Balmar Inc., of Gaithersburg, MD, has an experienced in-house bindery staff to tackle even the most challenging deadlines.

"We have two fully staffed shifts in our bindery department until 11 p.m., and have a crew on hand if needed for a third shift," reports Earl Gift, director of manufacturing. Gear like a Dexter Lawson drill, a Scott tabbing machine, a Duplo collator/stitcher, a GBC USP13 automatic punch and a Plasticoil binder are just some of the units employed for just-in-time finishing at Balmar. But Gift says that in-line finishing is also a big piece of the binding equation.


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