“Press automation has allowed a printed product to go from file to printed sheet much more efficiently,” says Rollem International’s Western sales manager Doug Sherwood. “In the case of Web-to-print, a print job can be produced simply from a downloaded file to a website that goes directly to the digital press. To continue the process, the bindery must incur the same automation to be able to take the printed sheet to finished product with the same efficiency.”
QP: How are bindery/finishing capabilities adapting to meet the increased interest in direct mail marketing?
“We are seeing some increased interest, not just in traditional direct mail marketing, but also in more eye-catching mailers such as pop-up mailers which are trending in the UK,” says MBO’s King. “Every marketer wants their product to stand out from the crowd, so we have made sure to include a pop-up mailing solution at PRINT 13 in order to bring exposure to such a product.”
“A very popular application we are now seeing is in the photo book space where customers are looking for personalized perfect bound photo books,” says Standard Finishing’s Dubuque. “This is a nice fit for many of today’s highly automated perfect binders. Another example can be seen in the saddle-stitching area. Solutions are now available that can produce variable sheet-count booklets using barcode scanning or mark reading technology. With this type of technology, personalized booklets or magazines can be produced with different messages for different customers from booklet-to-booklet.”
ODM’s Jacobson agrees about personalized photo books. “The one-off book market concept—digital library, printing, and binding one book at a time on demand—has been around for many years,” he says. “Doing a personalized book is the mainstay of photo books, so I would say that this market is still advancing.”
“Personalized marketing and the ability of variable data has really opened the doors for new and creative products,” says Rollem’s Sherwood. “Personalized marketing pieces are targeted to specific groups of people, so it is important when completing a product that jobs can be finished and put in mail sort or track order. For example, a product now can be cut, glued, taped, and folded as well as collated and/or sorted in one process.”
Adds Rollem’s Mid-Atlantic sales manager Allen Hammer: “As far as the print world is concerned, personalized marketing is direct mail. Computers and digital presses have allowed businesses the opportunity to present information that is pertinent to that particular consumer, but it must get to the consumer in the most efficient manner possible. By offering in-line solutions, by combining functions to eliminate ‘stops’ and ‘touches’, by delivering finished products in perfect mail-sort order, I’d say the bindery equipment manufacturers have been vital in the explosive growth of the direct mail market.”
QP: Are you seeing an increased interest in more sophisticated or specialty bindery/finishing capabilities?
“This is an interesting question,” says MBO’s King. “As the product increases in complexity, the machine must still be easy to set up and operate, while also efficiently producing a wide range of products, from the most basic to the most complex. At the end of the day, the finishing solution needs to increase the efficiency and profit earning potential for the print finisher.”
“All of the advances we are seeing are in short-run set up,” says Spiel. “The days of the journeyman in the bindery are long gone. We are selling more and more machines that can be run by unskilled employees after 10 minutes of training. That’s where our customers’ interests lie.”
“More and more the postpress finishing equipment is evolving from being less ‘knobs, dials, and switches’ to having control panel touchpads,” adds Spiral Binding’s Bossard. “This trend will definitely continue, and the touchpad’s user interfaces will control more and more. Just speculation, but we’re probably not too far off from seeing the control panels with the ability to connect to our mobile devices via downloadable apps.”