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CEO of Finishing Resources, Inc

The Finish Line

By Don Piontek

About Don

Don has worked in technical support, sales, engineering, and management during a career in both the commercial offset and digital finishing sectors. He is the North American representative for IBIS Bindery Systems, Ltd. of The United Kingdom.

Finishing Stars at PRINT 13

Next Sunday, America's largest print, mail, and converting show kicks off in Chicago. GRAPH EXPO converts to a larger (and longer) PRINT exhibition only once every four years, so it's a big event. I will be there (in the MBO booth #531) for the duration. Over the years, both GRAPH EXPO and PRINT have steadily migrated from mostly offset, to mostly digital. The Heidelberg's, Komori's and manroland's have been gradually displaced by HP, Océ-Canon, Ricoh, and Xerox.

But while digital print is the star, finishing is more important than ever. And there will be lots of new stuff on display in Chicago. It would take more than a few pages to highlight all of it, so I'll just pick a few that I think are worth a visit.

1.) Lasermax Roll Systems

Press roll splicers have been available in the offset world for a long time. Who wants to stop an offset web press running at 2,000 feet-per-minute to change the roll? So a flying splice unit is mandatory. Oddly enough, they don't exit for digital continuous-web toner, or inkjet presses. It was a given that you spent the 10 minutes or so to change the roll every 40 minutes or so.

Until now. Lasermax Roll Systems will introduce the first auto "on the fly" roll splicer unit at PRINT 13. This will finally allow continuous digital web presses to run without stopping for a roll change.

2.) Diecutting

Diecutting is fairly complex, involving precision dies and matrices. Digital print has created a demand for short-run machines that can set-up very quickly. What really is interesting is that lots of products need to be diecut. All sorts of consumer packaging and industrial products (washing machine plate labels, auto dashboard labels). Laser diecutters have huge advantages for some types of work because they do not require a die at all, just a computer file. But they're cheap. At PRINT, both Rollem and MBO will showcase new machines: Rollem with their new Delta short- and medium-run diecutter, and MBO America with the Bograma BSR 550 servo-driven magnetic cylinder machine.

The Delta features flexibility at a reasonable acquisition cost, while the BSR 550 features high-precision, high-quality fast throughput and make-ready via extensive use of servos. MBO has already sold more than 12 of these units, and they can run inline with a folder or other device.

3.) MBO Goes Digital

Speaking of MBO, folders are their core business. But recognizing the importance of digital print, MBO recently signed a distribution agreement with IBIS Bindery Systems of the United Kingdom. IBIS manufactures the Smart-binder Plus HS, which is a unique high-speed saddle-stitching system for variable page-count booklets.

MBO will be demonstrating the Smart-binder with their MBO digital unwinders and sheeters, along with a new "dynamic" folder. The folder can read a barcode on the sheet coming from the cutter and produce either an eight-page, or 12-page signature. This is a big deal because it permits the building of variable page-count booklets in four-page increments at web speeds of up to 650 feet-per-minute. Four-page increments mean less "padding" of the booklet with blank pages, and less paper waste.

4.) A New Perfect Binding Process (really).

Palamides will be showing a completely new perfect binder. The smartliner240 uses technology developed by Franz Landen (whom I have known for about 15 years). The combination of a unique spine preparation system and a cold-glue produces a perfect "lay-flat" book with tremendous page-pull strength. Better yet, it develops full bind strength immediately, and can be used on all digitally-printed stocks, even laminated papers. The photo book folks will love this.

5.) SmartStacking
Horizon (Standard Finishing) will show its SmartStacker which can process a 20x29˝ digitally-printed sheet into 28 individual cut sheets, with intelligent accumulation and stacking, and end-to-end JDF control. Developed in cooperation with HP and designed to run inline with the B2- format HP Indigo 10000 digital press, the system can also be operated near-line to serve multiple print sources with sheet feeding capability up to 4,500 B2 sheets per hour.

The SmartStacker edge trims and guttercuts up to seven sheets in one direction and four in the other for full-bleed trimming. The system can deliver finished product such as posters or postcards, straight or offset stacked, individual sets or book blocks, or bypass to inline finishing for saddle stitching, perfect binding, or folding.

No doubt there are many, many more unique finishing solutions that will be shown. These are but a few highlights. I'll be there for the duration (in the MBO booth), so stop by and say hello if you get a chance.

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