The Swiss Army Knife of Digital Finishing
Full disclosure up front. I represent IBIS Bindery Systems in the United States. With that out of the way, let me you why I feel that this system is the "Swiss Army knife" of digital finishing that I've titled this piece. The IBIS Smart-Binder was designed from the get-go as a true saddle stitcher for the digital print environment. That meant it's design abandoned the traditional folded signature gathering sections of conventional saddle stitchers.
Instead, the machine was built to accept cut (or folded) sheets coming directly from a continuous web digital printer at high rates of speed. The Smart-Binder could also be fed from a near-line unwinder-cutter, or from a sheet pile feeder. Booklet integrity software was built into the machine, as was the ability to produce perfect three-knife trimmed booklets of varying page counts. The Smart-Binder could also match personalized pre-printed covers with the text of the booklet.
The IBIS engineering team consists of some of the most experienced bindery engineers on the planet, so as new application requests arose from customers and prospects, they got to work. Since many users also do perfect binding, an individual sheet cold-glue system was added to the Smart-Binder. This allowed it to gather and glue sheets together to make signatures. In-line perfect binders were connected, and you now had a machine which could produce both saddle-stitched or perfect-bound books. The cold-glue system also allowed you to turn out "stitchless" booklets without stitching wire.
But that was only the start. Prospects wanted to add more capabilities so that they would have a closed-loop module turning out a mix of finished products with a minimum of labor. Interfaces were added for in-line buckle and knife folders to convert larger booklet sizes into mail-ready pieces. The Smart-Binder was connected in-line to mail tabbing and envelope inserting machines. The IBIS engineers focus was on customizing the Smart-Binder so that it's ultimate functionality matched the prospects wish list.
Now, IBIS Bindery Systems is not a huge firm, which is actually an advantage, since engineering and software teams are easily accessible, and requested system modifications can be made within reasonable time frames. IBIS has installed over one hundred and seventy digital saddle-stitching systems worldwide, with a considerable population here in the United States. Their willingness to provide a customized solution has been key in their success.
Which makes my job really interesting. Every day and every potential sale presents real challenges in arriving at the optimum system configuration. This mandates a final design that will actually work in non-stop production. Which pushes me to keep the old brain neurons firing at maximum efficiency (more coffee please!).