Finishing Shines at PRINT 17
There is no doubt that both Graph Expo, and its larger alternate PRINT, continue to evolve every year. Long gone are the days when pressmen rushed to set-up an offset press on the show floor. To its credit, the show reflects the multitude of changes confronting the print industry. Although offset vendors are still there, digital print now occupies the majority of booth space.
And finishing technology is all over the place. Not necessarily in big booths, but in dozens of smaller spaces showcasing new and innovative finishing systems. What is particularly noticeable is the shift toward packaging technologies. Ten years or so ago, industry gurus began urging printers to expand their in-house mailing capabilities instead of sending the work out to the local direct mailer, and they did. Now, the gurus are urging printers to look outside their sandbox and consider markets such as packaging, since there will always be a market there.
So, sales of diecutters, blankers, and folder/gluers are doing quite well, and you could see more than a few of these at PRINT. But there were also luxury (read iPhone) box-making systems, wire-O booklet binders, and lots of interesting finishing auxiliaries. Many were what I call “automation auxiliaries”: systems that extend finishing automation. One was from a firm that I get regular emails from, Controls Engineering in Wisconsin. These folks build stacker-banders. The machine they displayed would count and stack a variety of media, from booklets to gift cards, to cartons, and neatly stack and band them with flexible stretch film.
Another was from German firm Segbert. Segbert is known for building palletizers. The unit they displayed could perfectly stack unstrapped, strapped or shrink-wrapped bundles from web presses, saddle stitchers, co-mailers and more. The unit creates even pallet layers from mail bundles. This is a tremendous labor saver for this type of production.
Canadian firm Longford International displayed their array of high-speed product feeding and placing machines, which can feed, tip, and attach a complete universe of products, including this pharma booklet attached to the product carton.
The mailing and fulfillment area was also well-represented, with lots of options for addressing with ink-jet, mail piece tabbing and other systems. While it’s a bit difficult to cover everything when you’re actually working the show, the chances I got to stroll around convinced me that the sheer creativity in finishing systems is better than ever.