Finishing — Caught in a Bind?
Keeping operations localized is another trend, reveals Doug Herr, national sales manager at the Bobst Group. More finishing operations are being brought back into commercial printers and less work is being farmed out to specialty finishing houses, according to Herr.
"Finishing work is being brought back into the commercial printing houses because of turnaround time, the reduction in transportation expenses and the ability to maintain the quality requirements that the commercial printer's customers desire," Herr says. "It makes sense in today's society, given that time is such a major factor. Turnaround times are compressing. Printers are not just installing old and used equipment, but newer equipment that has higher run speeds and quicker make-ready times."
On the down side, this trend pinches the trade finishers that normally would run this type of work, according to Herr—whether it's a diecutting operation or a hot-foil stamping house. Still, some finishing processes remain cost-prohibitive to many commercial printers, and finishing houses excel by capitalizing on specialty niches.
Roger Mattila, bindery consultant and product manager for Vijuk Equipment, also believes that shorter lead times and quicker turnaround requirements are among the major issues facing the postpress industry. In response, equipment manufacturers and their distributors are providing more automation and faster changeovers.
One area Vijuk Equipment has targeted is supplying in-line folders. "We've designed a web press folder that can run in-line with web presses to produce the final product," Mattila says. "With shorter lead times comes shorter runs," he adds. "Instead of looking at the high-end speed of equipment, we're looking at midrange speeds and trying to provide those as economical as possible to the end user. We have mid-line ranges in perfect binders and we're also looking at providing it in saddle-stitchers."
Vinnie Kapoor, president of INNOTECH, agrees that a current trend is toward finishing in-line with a web press, which avoids subsequent steps in the bindery. He does see a push toward increasing the number of gatefolds on the products.