Digital Printing--On-demand Finishing Finesse
In this scenario, the printer chooses an automated, off-line system, thinking it might be a good fit. Why? First, the capital investment is roughly half compared to in-line finishing; since this particular commercial printer is cost-conscious, this is a strong selling point. Also, independent operation means that overall up-time will be boosted; plus the system can serve as a finishing device for the operation's conventional offset press work, if it is outfitted with a collator.
Decision finalized. Naturally, not all decisions will mirror this scenario—or be arrived at in the span of a few sentences.
On-demand finishing is all about choice. However, one factor is certain: The choice had better be made quickly—and correctly—or the digital printing device may be poorly maximized and marketed.
"In the final analysis, any discussion about print-on-demand is incomplete without considerations for finish-on-demand," advises Mark Hunt, marketing manager at Standard Finishing Systems. "A conventional offset printer looking to go on-demand needs to determine which route to the finish line best suits the particular purposes at hand."
One area of great debate in digital printing concerns the merits of finishing in-line or off-line. Each route has its advantages; the best solution for any specific on-demand printing concern will depend chiefly on the print shop's unique operation, requirements and goals.
In vs. Off
The benefits of in-line finishing include very high set integrity—because the sheets never leave the system, labor costs are kept low. Also, a streamlined production path is created, making in-line finishing a logical choice for many on-demand printers, especially for job quantities below 500. On the flip side, though, if the print engine goes down, the on-line finisher is idle, and vice versa. Some finishers may even slow down a print engine.
As for off-line finishing, it allows a digital output device to print at full-rated speed, with the finishing device, too, working at full-rated speed. In addition, overall up-time is unaffected, since a printer can output digital jobs if the finisher is down, and vice versa.