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Digital Finishing : Find Your (In, Off, Near) Line

Erik Cagle, Senior Editor

June 2012
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“The primary enhancement for us is the fact we were not using it as just a stand-alone binder. We were using it in-line with our printer,” Sevin notes. “We can produce product from blank roll paper all the way through to bound book, as well as using it as a stand-alone, near-line binder for other products.”

Bringing Order to Chaos

Sometimes, binding equipment can help bring order and efficiency to scenarios that have the potential to be chaotic. Prestone Printing, based in Long Island City, NY, found a unifying influence with its purchase of a Duplo DC-745 slitter/cutter/creaser and a Duplo DSF-3500 full-bleed bookletmaker.

Prestone Printing is an offset, digital and large-format boutique commercial shop that generates $23 million in annual revenues. It digitally produces business cards, brochures, folders, business reply cards, tickets and direct mail pieces, with saddlestitching and perfect binding capabilities. Near-line finishing is the configuration of choice for the Long Island printer.

“Until recently, we would print 200 digital jobs a day and go to the cutters, folders, stitchers,” explains Ira Wechsler, vice president of operations for Prestone Printing. “But we found that we were running short on most jobs.

“Since purchasing the Duplo slitter and stitcher, waste is down to a minimum,” he adds. “We’ve also found that it is so much quicker and there’s no chance of packaging errors. I love that we can print, slit and pack with one person.”

Sometimes, finishing equipment is just too quick to be integrated in-line with a digital press. That was the case with Mail Print, a 24-year-old Kansas City, MO-based operation that generates—you guessed it—personalized direct mail along with saddlestitched and perfect-bound books. The shop has essentially been doing variable data printing since 1992, when it first started sending out postcards for an area realtor, and President Eric Danner relates the company has become extremely adept at digital work, which touches 95 percent of the items produced by Mail Print.

“Virtually everything we print is personalized in some way,” he says. “We might print color shells offset and just put black variable printing on it, or the whole piece might be four-color variable. But, it’s very rare that we print a static piece that goes in the mail.”

Digital printing rolls off a quartet of HP Indigo presses and an HP T200 inkjet web press at Mail Print. Danner believes that the off-line finishing process has inherent advantages over in-line production. “If the press stops, then the bindery stops. So why tie the two together?” he relates. “In the case of the bindery line we installed, it runs twice as fast as the web press. So, if I was running the press all the time, I’d still be under-utilizing the bindery line.”

Long runs are an exception, not the rule, for Mail Print when it comes to direct mail production. The printer churns out between 20 and 30 jobs per day with an aggregate total of about 200,000 pieces. A long run length might touch the 50,000 range, according to Danner.

Mail Print relies heavily on Standard Finishing for its digital postpress work. A roll-to-fold line features the Standard Hunkeler UW6 unwinder, DP6-II Dynamic perforator, CS6-II cutter, Standard Horizon AF-566F/T-564 folder and the PSX-56 presser/stacker. A second line consists of the HOF sheet feeder and StitchLiner saddlesticher, which feeds digitally printed sets and produces saddlestitched booklets.

An interesting benefit Mail Print has reaped is the publication work it has gained since installing the HP T200 and bindery line, which has resulted in short-run black-and-white and short-run color booklets. “With our bindery line, we can easily fold those into signatures and print collated signatures, which is something we didn’t anticipate doing,” Danner notes. 

“The intention was to do direct mail pieces with perfs in them. The way we structured the bindery line, we can now print up to 20-page signatures, fold those and end up with collated book blocks.” PI




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