Digital Finishing: Crossing the Finish Line
For years there has been debate over the merits of in-line versus near-line and off-line finishing. But, as job run lengths and turn times continue to dwindle, more and more printers have opted to segregate finishing in a digital printing context. The variability of digital printing jobs makes off-line finishing the better call, contends Tom O'Brien, partner at AccuLink. A provider of sheetfed and web printing, in addition to digital output, Greenville, NC-based AccuLink has opted for the near-line finishing route.
AccuLink's finishing capabilities include collating, stitching, folding, trimming, perfect binding, plastic coil and Wire-O binding, diecutting, foil stamping, embossing and UV coating. Over the years, the shop has carved out a name for itself by producing certain products, such as index tabs, and now churns out ultra short-run, perfect bound books (with tabs) and short-run scratchoff goodies. A new, exciting application for the printer is the marriage of table tents with QR (Quick Response) codes.
Digital printing is gaining dominance. In 2010-speak, a long run tops out at a couple of thousand, notes O'Brien. "We're seeing lengths get shorter and shorter every day," he says. "And the turn times are getting shorter. Customers' expectations are increasing, but the amount they think they ought to pay is decreasing."
Another advocate for off-line binding/finishing is TecDoc Digital Solutions of Hudson, MA, a small digital shop that produces documents, manuals, booklets, case studies, collateral and direct mail. With custom short runs, off-line finishing provides the flexibility that TecDoc requires, according to CEO David Trombino. With some of its gear featuring computer controls, setup times are cut, providing more flexibility in the number of jobs and configurations that can be pumped through the shop simultaneously.
One of TecDoc's more unique applications is customized direct mail that is shaped relevant to the customer's campaign. "For example, if the client is selling cowboy boots, the mail piece could be diecut in the shape of a boot," Trombino says. "All it has to do is fit with a certain aspect ratio requirement that the USPS puts out."