There’s little doubt that the printing industry is experiencing significant challenges. With these challenges come opportunities to enter new finishing areas that can uncover revenue streams. Specialty finishing is one such opportunity. The possibilities go beyond the typical choices of a mail table with inkjetting. Today’s marketers are working hard to produce creative, eye-catching promotions that break through the clutter and grab consumer attention. Here are some specialty finishing options that warrant a closer look.
The incentive for offering customers tabbing capability heightened last fall when the U.S. Postal Service issued stricter regulations that limited large format product sizes. What’s resulted are long and narrow products (e.g., SlimJims) or double digest books that must be tabbed or wafer sealed—most with two tabs—so as not to cause machine jams in the USPS sorting equipment. The process can be done either in-line or off-line, though it’s more efficient to have the operation in-line. The penalty for non-tabbed material? Pay a higher postal rate, or, worse still, have the product rejected by the post office.
Inserting behind the stitcher
Inserting product into books that have already been stitched or bound is becoming more and more popular. Flyers, coupons, small brochures, etc. fall into this category. In order to attract the most attention, these inserts are typically slightly larger than the book’s final trim size and printed on a heavier card stock. Muller Martini’s Integro inserting machine is used as an in-line solution with saddle stitching systems. It processes inserts at the highest production speed possible (up to 30,000 products per hour) using dual raceways technology with maximum processing reliability.
An often seen alternative approach is the blow-in card, typically a reply card. However, more and more customers want their promotions stitched into the finished product so they don’t fall out during the handling process.
Another specialty use done behind the stitcher is the addition of a banding machine that can be placed in-line after the trimmer and perform 1-up, 2-up, and 3-up paper banding. Unlike strapping material, paper bands are more environmentally friendly and are typically a 1" - 1 ½" wide strip that provides temporary bundling of booklets, promotion packets, etc. The bands can be easily torn apart by an operator to be loaded into a mailing machine or an offline tabber. In addition, paper bands can be personalized to attract even more interest when sent to the customer or on display.
Muller Martini’s Palamides banding machine is specially designed to boost finishing productivity in 2-up stitching productions where the product is counted, stacked and banded. It handles the small and springy products that cannot typically be put through a normal stacker.
Punch and diecut machines
Specialty applications such as door hangers, pharmaceutical booklets, multiple hole-punching and perforated products (e.g., calendars, keychain reward cards), children’s books, and other unusually-sized books warrant the addition of punch and diecut machines to a stitching line. Muller Martini offers the versatile Bograma for multiple products being produced at one time. It handles 3-up, 4-up, or 5-up and provides inline processing of products after the saddle-stitch trimmer, including form-punching, hole-punching, perforating, and diecutting. The machine delivers diverse production capabilities of saddle-stitched products. With a multitude of applications such as trimming, die cutting, and hole punching, the creative possibilities are almost limitless.
Delivering specialty solutions
All of these specialty finishing solutions can be done either in-line with a stitcher or as an off-line process, giving printers tremendous flexibility to incorporate add-ons efficiently and cost effectively. Performing these functions in-house reduces logistical and material handling costs, helps grow revenue, and offers customers a one stop shop solution.