Although the printing industry's slump has deepened, clever printers everywhere are exploiting their niche markets and developing new strategies to keep afloat in a time when most people are finding holes in their boats. One particular segment of the industry keeping afloat rather well is the finishing services faction. At one time, finishing services tended to be relegated to a part of the print shop rather than operating as an entity all its own. In some cases, finishing was almost an afterthought, often born out of necessity. Today, finishing services have risen to a whole new level. Every year equipment manufacturers are introducing products that make finishing easier, faster, and offer many more options and features than anyone dreamed of 25 years ago.
As the printing industry grows and evolves, there is a bigger demand for finishing services, particularly those that are innovative. With the economy in a spiraling downturn, there are an increased number of companies trying to capture the attention of the consumer through bigger, better and more eye catching POP displays.
Tom Milligan, secretary and treasurer for SLC Industries in Binghamton, N.Y., says, "People want to add glitz to their work." It is up to the bindery to figure out how to make these things happen and—in a print on demand world—how to make them happen fast.
In the past few years, specialized print shops across the globe have been devoting more time to keeping a strong foothold in the market, investing in new equipment, learning new techniques and forging new partnerships. One of the most important partnerships is with a trade shop able to meet the needs of a growing business. In regards to finishing services, trade binderies are a crucial piece of the puzzle and are often expected to create miracles at the drop of a hat.
SLC Industries is a classic example of a company that focuses on one specific niche in the industry. As a trade shop, SLC offers a number of unique solutions to commercial printers in the Binghamton area and beyond, from UV coating to paper converting and gluing. Unlike other binderies, SLC doesn't focus on the more common areas such as saddle stitching or perfect binding. According to Milligan, the company considers itself to be more of a coating house. The UV coating is applied using a roller coating method, while the spot coating is applied with a screen printing method. Other specialties include scratch off materials, working with the pharmaceutical industry on medication leaflets and color displays with fugitive attachments. The company also promotes die-cutting services, and the final steps in the manufacture of pocket folders.
It's no secret that the current recession has affected everyone, including printers. The industry was already struggling before the collapse of a large segment of the financial industry but now it is more important than ever to be smart about the way work is performed. This often means that bindery houses are in the market for the latest in technology, making good use of the idea that one needs to work smart rather than hard.
One company that took a step in that direction is E&M Bindery & Finishing, Clifton, N.J. Last year, E&M, a book binding and finishing services firm, installed the country's first fully automated Wire-O book-binding system from the Rilecart DP-4500 line. The DP-4500 is one of the most advanced pieces of equipment on the market. E&M already owned seven Wire-O machines, but finds the DP-4500 offers a faster and easier way of delivering a high end product. It is able to collate and punch book blocks and then re-collate them along with the covers before sending the entire unit to the binding station, where the Wire-O elements are added. The machine's capabilities include being able to create 3,500 books per hour.
"This enables E&M to get the job back to our customer faster than before because we can typically reduce our workflow by one to two steps," said E&M President Gary Markovits. "We now go straight from our die cutting or other finishing departments to collation knowing we only have one more process because the DP-4500 can complete the job in one pass."