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Digital Finishing : Taking Their Output Off-line

February 2011 By Erik Cagle
Senior Editor
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Off-line is the finishing of choice for Publishers' Graphics of Carol Stream, IL. The company, which bills itself as a "book of one" print-on-demand (POD) production facility, is another print provider where zero waste and zero defects are givens. It caters to large, small and independent publishers, with a sweet spot of hardcover and softcover academic books, and a newer focus on yearbooks and photo albums. It even offers clients an online bookstore and an electronic book repository.

While standardization is not as prevalent for Publishers' Graphics, which opened its doors in 1996, the company has taken great pains to streamline its processes. Publishers' Graphics recently added polyurethane reactive (PUR)—a popular adhesive option known for lay-flat book capabilities—to its binding arsenal. It tapped Standard Horizon for its BQ-470PUR perfect binder.

"Any time you're dealing with PUR for hardcover binding, you have to make sure that it cures properly," notes Nick Lewis, president and owner of Publishers' Graphics. "It's a little shift in philosophy as opposed to EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) glues."

Quick Turns Necessary

Speed to market is paramount for Publishers' Graphics due to its "book of one" workflow; the sell-and-print model has an average turnaround time of three to five days from order to delivery.

Publishers' Graphics uses a number of digital printing platforms, including Konica Minolta, Xerox, Canon and Océ. Lewis notes that when the company debuted, the biggest obstacle was finding sufficiently vigorous finishing equipment.

"When we first started, the smallest equipment wasn't built as strong as the large Kolbus and Muller Martini lines," he notes. "We opted to go with this short-run philosophy in 1996. In doing so, we had to redo a lot of things with the machine to make sure the glues, the milling units, and the bonds were as strong as the publishers had been accustomed to."

Mark Mader has long followed the progression of digital printing, and jumped at the chance to be an Indigo digital press user at the time the company was acquired by HP, which helped seal the deal for Aptech Graphics. The North Providence, RI-based company has enjoyed much success as a provider of digital labels for the food, home goods, private labeling, consumer products and promotional products sectors.

Aptech's off-line laser diecutting capabilities, a Cartes 350, provide the face for products ranging from beer to seafood and surfboard wax. "Because of the laser diecutting and our ability to do so many different shapes and sizes without any cost, we tend to work well in the short-run arena, anywhere from 100 to 100,000," Mader says. "We've actually done in the millions, too, just not as often as we'd like."

Mader prefers commonality among the substrates that churn through his Indigo ws2000, as there isn't a viable volume of specialized materials to justify the resulting time and expense. Many of the more typical jobs are done for fellow printers, who then perform their own specialized converting to produce items such as hanging cards mounted on extruded vinyl.

Going forward, Mader hopes to update his press to the Indigo WS4500 or WS6000 press, as well as converting with a traditional servo-driven diecutting system to match speeds. "We want to have machinery that matches so there isn't a bottleneck," he adds. PI



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