It seems that nobody wants to talk about the bindery. . .except perhaps the many NPES member companies that manufacture and market these solutions to the printing industry. After all, the bindery just isn’t sexy like the pressroom or prepress departments. Talk is one thing, but action is more important. Are printers investing in new bindery and finishing technology? If not, why not? After all, many people claim that the bottleneck in the print workflow is the bindery. Nothing goes out the door and gets billed until it’s cut, folded, perffed, diecut, foil stamped, embossed, stitched or bound, stuffed or mailed or shipped to the customer. It seems the bindery is very important to printers’ overall workflow, yet it seems many printers do not invest heavily in the bindery even though dollars can be gained or lost there.
The last major study of bindery trends and purchases was conducted by NPES in 1996 through Dr. Joe Webb’s consulting firm, Strategies for Management. According to the study, “Overall, commercial printers aren’t buying much when it comes to binding and finishing equipment. Even the number one planned purchase among these shops—a stand-alone folder—garners only 11% of responses. One of the reasons, of course, is that these plants already have much of this equipment.”
This is true. . .most printers do have bindery equipment, and some have quite a lot of different devices. When touring printing plants, it’s often the oldest technology seen in the plant. The owner prides himself on his press, be it offset or digital, it’s the centerpiece of the discussion. The next thing they want to show you is their prepress department and their recent purchase of CtP equipment. When you tour their bindery, many times their newest acquisition is over 10 years old and that device was purchased on the used equipment market. In fact, you may even have to specifically ask the owner to see the bindery otherwise he may show you his computer room or the loading dock first! Clearly, the new technology available today is far more efficient from a make-ready, production speed and electricity usage basis. Plus the automation available makes these machines far more productive than the older technology, but most printers seem satisfied to get by with what they already have in their shop.