Webcrafters Adds Second Digital Book Production Line
MADISON, WI—For more than a hundred years, Webcrafters has been a familiar name to book publishers, particularly in the educational and custom publishing markets—segments that were some of the first to embrace short-run production in order to reduce inventories and better manage supply chains.
Webcrafters entered the digital print space in 2005 as a way to efficiently produce “end-of-life” titles, those textbooks which would soon be out of print but had a handful of school adoptions that needed to be fulfilled. What’s more, Webcrafters soon discovered that a textbook’s “teacher’s edition” could also benefit significantly from digital’s unmatched capabilities to process state-specific, customized content.
With the onset of high-speed digital inkjet presses, Webcrafters chose the Kodak Prosper 5000XL Press as its print engine and recently added a Prosper 5000XLi. Since the presses have a print width of up to 24.5" at speeds up to 650 fpm, Webcrafters needed technology that could keep up with these press speeds with four-color printing on lightweight, coated stocks. That was one of the main reasons why pairing it with Muller Martini’s SigmaLine book manufacturing system made good business sense. In addition, SigmaLine interconnects prepress, digital printing and finishing in a unique system that permits fully automated production from a PDF to a finished book in a single operation.
John Filsinger, Webcrafter’s executive vice president and COO, remarked, “We’re very excited about the capabilities of our second Muller Martini SigmaLine, particularly since it’s able to keep up with the full operating speeds of the Kodak Prosper Press. We believe our uptime percentage is going to continue to improve dramatically with the addition of the all-new system design of the SigmaFolder II platform. It has some significant new features including a straight horizontal paper path which provides excellent control of lightweight stocks. Muller is also working with us on some special variable data printing (VDP) capabilities. One of the most impressive aspects of SigmaLine is its scalability, which enables it to accommodate wider and faster print engine technology if we need it to.”
The SigmaFolder II delivers book blocks at a cycle time of less than one second, which allows it to deliver individual book blocks at up to an unprecedented 4,000 copies per hour. This ensures that it will keep pace with the speed of any print engine in today’s market. What’s more, it has the unique ability to change cut-off length and signature format on the fly.
“The economics of the Prosper press and SigmaLine finishing platform continues to make more and more sense with the run lengths we’re seeing and where book manufacturing is going," said Filsinger. "Not to mention other non-book products that are migrating to a digital platform.” He summarized Webcrafter’s experience with the Muller team this way. “Muller Martini is not only great at listening, but at developing solutions that will help our business grow," he said. "I’ve always viewed Muller Martini as an engineering company. And through the years, they’ve brought some tremendous innovations to our binding and press finishing lines.”