It’s no secret that digital print is gaining steady ground, opening the door to a broader spectrum of jobs and new business for printers. The speed and quality of digital color print is now at levels comparable to offset printing, which makes it an attractive option for many applications. It’s no surprise then, that the rapid adoption of digital color is also changing the game for finishing technology.
As highly targeted and personalized shorter run digital print becomes the norm, today’s printers have a host of new requirements for their downstream processes in order to keep pace with the progress on the front end. Specifically, printers are looking for more efficient ways to handle the pre-collated output produced on both cut-sheet and roll-fed engines—ideally through a single finishing system. In this new environment, the most critical element in the bindery today is flexibility.
Standard Finishing Systems’ (Booth 1244) partners, Horizon International of Japan and Hunkeler AG of Switzerland, have partnered to create integrated roll-to-in-line finishing solutions that respond to these unique needs. The Horizon/Hunkeler Roll-to-Booklet saddlestitching solution, featuring the StitchLiner 6000 Digital saddlestitcher, is just one example. Designed to run in-line with continuous print engines, process booklets from a printed roll, or finish pre-collated cut sheet output at speeds up to 6,000 booklets per hour, the system is designed to accommodate a variety of job types coming from multiple print sources. The changeover from continuous-feed roll production to digital cut sheet input takes just a few minutes.
This same solution can also be configured as a roll-to-booklet/roll-to-stack combination line—meaning, it can stack and output fully separated book blocks for perfect or mechanical binding, or cut sheets can bypass to the in-line StitchLiner 6000 Digital to deliver finished, saddlestitched booklets, depending on the nature of the print job. Capable of full variability and page count, the system can also be equipped with quality control and tracking software to ensure full integrity of the printed web as well as sheet-level, book-level, and text/cover matching verification.
Also sparked by the changing industry requirements posed by digital print, Standard Horizon and Standard Hunkeler developed a roll-to-in-line folding solution that can go from white paper roll or preprinted web to finished product in a single pass. The AF-566F Digital Folder at the end of the solution can also be used off-line to fold cut sheet output (offset or digital.) The changeover from in-line finishing system to stand-alone folder can be completed in just minutes, giving any printer the flexibility to use the system as the job demands. This solution is used to produce complex variable data direct mail pieces in one pass at 600 fpm and can also be configured for folded signatures to produce roll-to-book block for perfect binding.
Fortunately, greater flexibility does not always mean greater complexity. These fully integrated systems can be set up, operated, and changed over by a single operator thanks to many of the features provided through the simple touchscreen interface. This new generation of finishing equipment is helping printers complete more jobs—better, faster, and more efficiently than in the past. The companies who invest in these solutions can take advantage of new and unique business opportunities that otherwise may not have been profitable to them—and certainly will gain an edge over their competition.