Get Your Rear (Workflow) in Gear

When digital print began making inroads into the offset world years ago, no one thought seriously that digital print might someday approach web offset printing speeds.

While continuous digital presses are a long way from the (close to) mile-a-minute of paper of the fastest offset web presses, they are closing in on the 1,000 feet-per-minute mark. This is creating an issue for the postpress equipment that accompanies the press. Much of the current crop of post-press unwinders, cutter, sheeters, and web perforation systems top out at around 600 feet-per-minute.

The folks who work in the digital sector know that digital press speeds will increase. At the same time, they have doubts about the ability of postpress to handle digital webs at these speeds reliably. So they predict a shift to roll-to-roll implementations at these higher speeds. What they may be unaware of is that current high-speed offset presses produce a finished product, even at lightning run speeds well above 1,000 feet-per-minute. Folding, sheeting, perforating and even wire stitching all happen at the back end of an offset web press.

So, why can’t you do the same in digital at higher speeds? There’s no good reason and vendors would be wise to look at how it’s being done in the offset world. This is a problem that is going to have to be attacked, since customers will not be thrilled with a slower off-line finishing process than what they have on the press.

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.
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