Is There a Future in Finishing?

Anyone in involved in print these days has usually developed the habit of “looking over your shoulder” at digital and mobile technologies that always seem to be on the ascendancy. We wonder on a daily basis how long of a run print is going to have. For someone at the beginning of a career, can they seriously consider print finishing as a career option?

The short answer is YES. Here are the reasons. First, many old bindery hands are just that. Getting old. These people are walking libraries of bindery knowledge. But they will be leaving the bindery in large numbers over the next five years or so. They’re going to need to be replaced. This will create a significant number of openings because the knowledge will have to be passed to next generation before these folks walk out the door.

Second, the large-scale implementation of digital print has created new finishing opportunities. New, multiple finishing trends and technologies are linked to digital print, short-run, variable-data, and others. Many of the traditional techniques of the bindery are being replaced or enhanced by new finishing systems specifically designed for digital print. So up-and-coming “bindroids” will have to apply creative thinking to digital finishing, as opposed to falling back on the tried-and-true methods of the past.

They will have to design completely new workflows to maximize efficiency and keep costs under control. As new digital print systems become available, the number of finished products that can be turned out will actually expand. Digital presses can now print on many substrates, including board substrates used for packaging applications. Last year, we installed a finishing system for personalized children’s board books, which were being printed on a Xerox toner printer. Not your average finishing application, but one that was very profitable for the printer.

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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  • Werner Rebsamen

    Don – great article. I’m one of those old bookbinders riding off into the sunset.
    Wish I would be 40 again and be part of that great evolution in print finishing.
    All printed products must be converted into a marketable product. These are great challenges. I know. virtually no other industry offers such great, diverse challenges for any individuals. Even after 60 years in this business, I wish I would know it all. Happy New Year!
    Werner Rebsamen Professor Emeritus RIT Technical Director LBI