Digital Finishing — Where to Draw the Line?
HAVING A print engine isn’t an absolute prerequisite for offering digital printing services, but it definitely helps. Shops that install a press do, however, find that having some level of in-house digital finishing capabilities—in-, near- or off-line—is required to be competitive in meeting the short run, quick-turnaround demands of this market.
As a result, digital printing operations are faced with figuring out where to draw the line between the efficiency of in-line finishing options versus the flexibility of off-line systems.
Trends in digital finishing was one part of a comprehensive market study—titled “Digital Printing Outlook in a Production Environment”—released by PRIMIR late last year. According to the report, the vast majority of “production” digital press owners are primarily using off-line finishing today. While 50 percent of the installed black-and-white production digital presses have been configured with at least one type of in-line finishing, that figure drops to 18 percent for process color models.
A significantly greater number (43 percent) of survey respondents indicate they do intend to add in-line finishing options to their planned color press purchases in the 2006-2011 time frame. Saddlestitching tops the list of currently installed in-line finishing capabilities and is projected to remain the most popular hardware option, growing from inclusion on 12 percent of digital color presses to 28 percent. Coating/varnishing unit installs are projected to show the biggest jump, from 3 percent up to 17 percent of color press purchases.
The installed base of off-line finishing equipment shows almost the exact opposite trend in that two-thirds or more of the surveyed companies already have off-line cutting, folding/scoring, saddle-stitching, trimming and perfect binding capabilities. Only 39 percent currently have standalone coating/varnishing equipment, but that capability came in second only to folding/scoring systems in the breakdown of planned off-line finishing equipment investments.
The 300+ page “Digital Printing Outlook” study currently is only available to PRIMIR and NPES members. For more information, visit www.primir.org.