Focus on Finishing Takes Center Stage at 2018 Inkjet Summit
The sixth Inkjet Summit kicked off last week in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., and I was lucky enough to attend for the second time. What a difference a year makes! It just seemed to me that the attendees were much better “dialed in” to the various aspects of production inkjet technology and the assorted support systems. Attendance was great also.
Both prospective inkjet buyers and customers who had made the inkjet leap were able to share the details of features, costs and best practices in selling inkjet, running production, and in how to succeed with this technology. The give-and-take between attendees and vendors was great for both sides. More than ever, there was a great emphasis on finishing, and the coming (and present) labor crisis in print. In speaking with attendees, almost all spoke of operational difficulties caused by retirements in the pressroom and bindery, and the difficulty of finding replacements. Many said that the only way to find experienced people was to poach them from competitors.
Panels discussed the entire end-to-end digital workflow, from prepress software, to environmental and power requirements for digital printers, to finishing. And, in the end, finishing is perhaps the most complex when you have to turn that roll of paper into a finished, salable product. So, given the labor situation in the bindery, barcode-driven workflows and finishing automation were high on the list for discussion. Terrific postpress and finishing case studies were presented by Tecnau, Muller Martini, Standard Finishing, Hunkeler, MBO, EMT and, yes, IBIS Bindery Systems and BEST Graphics.
I learned a lot simply by sitting in on Tecnau’s case study (I didn’t know they could do that!). In the end, due diligence, research and planning are the keys to success in high-speed inkjet. The benefits of a well-planned installation are huge in terms of revenue and lowered costs. Conference chair Marco Boer stated that sales of inkjet presses will continue to expand at a rate of 20% per year. These kinds of numbers will drive finishing systems manufacturers to continually innovate in order to meet market demand for the most efficient and productive postpress systems.
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