The Finishing Focus at GRAPH EXPO

OK, it’s show time again in Chicago. Moreover, GRAPH EXPO 2012 is a drupa-year show at that. The hall is pretty well sold out (a good sign). I’ve detected a lot of interest in the show, and I think attendance will be very good.

So what does that mean for finishing? Well, more focus on digital. Rightly so, as the choices of digital print technology continue to expand. New finishing technology to turn out more complex pieces will be on display at McCormick Place.

There is now tremendous opportunity for finishing systems as the volume capacity (and speed) of these production systems continue to increase. The greater speeds of both continuous and cut-sheet printers now enables them to tackle longer runs.

I’ll give you an example. I recently worked on several membership booklet projects that will produce well over two million custom booklets per month. Not huge volume by offset standards, but work is not possible to produce using offset technology.

What this tend means is that digital finishing machinery will have to morph into heavier pieces of gear, able to run 24/7, while still being able to be setup with a minimum of operator finetuning.

In the meantime, are offset bindery systems being relegated to the status of wallflowers at the big dance? Not at all. In the last 10 years, there have literally been quantum leaps in the combining of advanced mechanical design with electrical systems and programmed motion control and software.

Design advances for folders, cutters, saddlestitchers, and mailing machines didn’t stop back in the ’90s, and today’s machines are better than ever. They’ve evolved over the last decade or two to be easy to makeready, able to handle the widest variety of applications, and most of all, to be fast. The offset bindery will be with us for a long time, and I believe that bindery machine evolution will not stop any time soon.

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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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