The Finish Line

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.

With the new generation of finishing systems, connectivity has become a big selling point. Given the shift to shorter runs, machine availability, makeready time, and productivity are all critical to profits. So, accurate metrics have become more important than ever.

Printing equipment is more sophisticated and complex than ever. This is especially true of the latest generation of inkjet presses. This technology integrates electronics, chemistry, physics, software, and mechanical hardware in a dizzyingly complex package. The same goes for the new generation of finishing equipment.

Increasingly, customers are looking at the finishing end and wanting finishing solutions that are far from standard. The era of the “vanilla” book, mailing piece, or booklet is over. Printers are attempting to be more creative than ever (with good reason), and the prospect or customer applications that I’m tasked with require machine modifications that range from the minor, to very major.

There is a wide range of finishing automation for photobooks of all quality levels. But larger machines are not inexpensive and a photo book printer needs adequate volume to justify the capital expense. And this leads to the question of demand.

The overall shrinkage of the print market has challenged dealers like never before. A smaller potential customer base forces them to diversify their product lines further, and to try to enter new potential markets. This is far from easy, as (successfully) entering a new market — especially against existing competitors — takes lots of time and money. And this also works against new suppliers trying to enter the U.S. market.

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