Binding & Finishing: A Vote for Diversified Attack

With offset presses becoming scarce on the show floor and digital vendors pushing for higher volume and larger B2-format machines, digital presses are becoming the "big iron" components of the GRAPH EXPO show. Almost without exception, digital press vendors highlighted their workflow and digital front end (DFE) capabilities.

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.

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