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Binding & Finishing : A Vote for Diversified Attack

November 2012 By Erik Cagle, Senior Editor
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Since it is an election year, many people have likely been prompting you to align your ideals with one of two very contrasting plans for the future of America. Naturally, each side believes the choice is crystal clear. Do you want progress, or a reverting back to the old, inefficient ways?

The aisles at GRAPH EXPO were abuzz with more than just the upcoming presidential election. Not all print shop proprietors have weighed in on the printing industry’s most pressing question regarding the future, and that is whether they need to go “all in” or hedge their bets when it comes to digital printing technology.

Will we ever go back to long-run offset work? Is the variability and one-off flexibility of the digital press turning the old, heavy iron obsolete? If the Obama-Romney rhetoric parade of 2012 taught us anything, it's that the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.

One thing is certain. If you plan on catering to both disciplines, it behooves today's printer to have finishing capabilities that speak to the needs of conventional and digital printing.

“Is it digital, conventional or one world?” posed Steven Calov, product manager for Heidelberg USA. “Customers are struggling with how to address it. They need to set up a digital postpress environment. If you try to do it all in one area, you’ll run into scheduling problems. If you try to commingle it with traditional printing work…it doesn’t always fit.”

Heidelberg’s finishing space at GRAPH EXPO reflected gear aimed at hybrid workflows. One of the newer offerings being touted was the programmable Polar 56 (NET version) cutter with hydraulic drive, equipped with an 18.5˝, touch-sensitive display. The Polar 56 easily cuts small formats up to SRA 3, and comes with digital workflow integration via P-NET and Compucut.

In order to start the cutting program automatically, the machine is furnished with a barcode reader, enabling near-zero setup times. Process visualization gives the operator a graphic indication of the material handling, minimizing errors. Compucut takes the cutting data supplied as PPF or JDF files direct from prepress and generates the cutting program automatically. Repeat sequences can be saved and adapted at any time, with nearly 2,000 memory positions.

Among the products on display at the Duplo USA booth was the UD-300 on-demand cutting system. At 3,000 sheets/hr., the UD-300 is ideally suited for folding cartons, label applications, doorknob hangers, favor boxes and tags, among other products.

Handling Digital Output, New Substrates

According to Si Nguyen, national business development director at Duplo, the challenge for finishing providers is maintaining pace with the digital printing aspect of workflow. "Print engines are printing substrates that we haven't printed before. We're just trying to catch up with our offerings," he says.

Spiral/James Burn garnered plenty of attention with its Snakeskin Wire-O, which is packaged in a flexible plastic skin that prevents the wire from tangling. Packaged in a box—minus the spool core—it provides up to three times as many loops while eliminating the recycling of spools. Also being touted was the single-sided laminator line produced by Czech Republic-based Foliant, including the new Gemini C400A. Spiral/James Burn is the exclusive North American distributor for the laminators.

Matt Roth, vice president of Spiral/James Burn, notes his company invested in its largest-ever booth at Graph Expo to help kick off the Foliant launch in the United States. “We’ve seen things start to pick up in the industry, so our expectations are higher than they’ve been in the last couple of years,” he says.

Sensitive to the needs of its client base during the extended period of economic doldrums, Muller Martini used Graph Expo as a platform to further promote its MMServices. One of the main offerings under this umbrella is MMUptodate, which provides machine updates that enable older equipment to run efficiently while maintaining optimal performance levels. Through technology and automation, Muller Martini can optimize the availability and processing reliability of existing gear while lowering maintenance costs.

From an equipment perspective, one system that drew considerable attention for Muller Martini was the Diamant MC bookline for hardcover book production. The machine is available as the MC 35 (2,100 cycles/hr.) and the MC 60 (3,600 cycles/hr.).

Andre Palko, president of Technifold USA, was ambivalent about the show. While visitors were less in number, they generally were on more of a mission to find finishing solutions for their projects. “We’re up over 10 percent from last year, and a lot has to do with the nature of our products,” he says. “Our customers are taking the equipment on their floors and retrofitting to make them more productive.”

One of the newer offerings from Technifold USA was the CreaseStream Mini, an entry-level mini creaser or a solution for segregating low-volume runs. The system, which includes two Technifold Tri-Creasers, can crease 100# text through 120# cover or 14 pt. It has a minimum sheet size of 3x434˝ and a maximum size of 20.4x20.4˝

The Digibinder Plus perfect binder adds a stand, waste removal system and safety cover to Spiel Associates' most popular machine, notes David Spiel, company president. The Digibinder Plus also features heavier duty notching pins that facilitate binding of more problem stocks. Spiel also recently released the I-glue, which is designed for oil-infused stocks.

Versatile Booklet-Making System

Morgana Systems drew rave reviews for its DocuMaster Pro bookletmaker system, which can be used as a bookletmaker, creaser or perforator. The machine creases the sheets as part of the feeding and booklet-making operation. The DocuMaster Pro handles multi-weight pre-collated stocks, with speeds of 1,200 booklets/hr. The machine features a 7˝ SmartScreen touchscreen and is JDF and variable-data ready.

Kirk-Rudy enjoyed a solid performance courtesy of its KR545T tabber. The company sold a handful at the show, notes Tim Geary, Kirk-Rudy's product manager for inkjet systems. The KT545T applies tabs to three sides in a single pass to meet the new USPS specifications for self-mailers and booklet tabbing regulations. It handles 18˝ rolls and runs all major types of tabs, along with pressure-sensitive stamps and labels of various shapes and sizes.

Given the overall shift of printing preferences from offset to digital, many printers have already adjusted their shop floor arsenal to reflect the new reality. At the same time, with a multitude of printers now boasting digital capabilities, the need to provide a point of differentiation is critical in the digital age, points out Michael Aumann, CEO of Brandtjen & Kluge.

“The key is trying to find out where we’re at in the digital workflow,” Aumann says. “People are coming back to us and asking how else they can add value to a product. It’s not enough now to do variable data or print-on-demand. They’re adding value through specialty effects—foil, UV, diecutting.”

Kluge is teaming with LasX to co-market an on-demand laser cutting and converting solution for folding cartons and other folded and glued products. LasX's LaserSharp technology is being integrated with Kluge's converting equipment to provide a solution for near-digital production of folding cartons for the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and consumer packaging space.

One of the highlights at the Rollem Corp. booth was the new Mailstream fully automated direct mail finishing system, which can be fitted with inkjet heads, run off-line or in-line with a digital press. The Mailstream transforms sheets into cut, scored and/or perforated direct mailers containing coupons or tip-on cards. Rollem demonstrated a two-up mailer that was four-side trimmed, center slit and separated, scored, strike perforated, and the card tipped on with final folding and glue closure.

One-to-One Variable Trimming

Among the many innovations on display at the Standard Finishing booth was the Standard Horizon HT-1000V variable three-knife trimmer, which is capable of one-to-one variable trimming, in-line with a perfect binder or off-line. Setup and variable trimming is achieved by reading a barcode printed on the book cover, and up to 1,000 variable-thickness and variable-format size books can be trimmed per hour. The HT-1000V will accept a wide range of input sizes and deliver trimmed books from 5.7x4.05˝ up to 13.38x11.69˝.

MBM Corp. unveiled the new Triumph 4860 automatic programmable cutter, as well as the Aerocut G2 digital printing finishing system. The G2 boasts faster production speeds and increased capacity, plus features an improved touchscreen interface, increased memory and cross-perfing capability. The G2 cuts, slits, creases, scores and perforates a wide variety of jobs, including brochures, business cards, post cards and CD jackets.

Several production lines were on display at the MBO America booth, including a “high speed line.” Key elements of the line include the T 960 Perfection buckle folding unit, the FP 1020/1120 palletized feeder and the SBAP 82ME mobile vertical stack delivery.

G&K-Vijuk International showcased its GUK SM 50/2 scoring, perforating and slitting machine. The SM 50 includes an easy load, flat pile feeder with 23˝ stacking height, along with quick-release, adjustable knife shafts. The unit is individually powered and can be used independently.

Hohner Stitching announced that it is now responsible for the worldwide marketing and sales of the new Hohner DIGI-Finisher. The system can produce wire-stitched brochures from either digital or conventional offset presses, in-line or off-line. It includes an intelligent barcode controlling and monitoring system for recognizing sheets according to their pagination and contents with subsequent automatic sorting, stitching and marked laying out.

Among the items on display at the Colter & Peterson booth was the Amatco AccuTrim on-demand book trimming system. Its features include bi-directional cutting action, infrared safety beams, programmable storage and touchscreen control.

The PT series showcased by Graphic Whizard includes folders, creasers, joggers and other print finishing solutions. The firm also manufactures and distributes other systems such as UV coaters, perfect binders, numbering machines and perf/score equipment.

Baum rolled out a new line of guillotine cutters, including the new BaumCut 22 series. The cutter line will also include both the E and N series cutters for the BaumCut 22, BaumCut 26.4 and BaumCut 31.5 cutter models that offer a choice of easy programming and expandable memory features. The N series includes a barcode scanner that can read a barcode for a given job, automatically search the cutter program database and set up the cutter for automatic mode. PI



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