At the recent Print Forum industry event held in Germany, GGP Media, Europe’s largest book producer, a division of Arvato/Bertelsmann, endorsed Muller Martini’s scalable digital book manufacturing solutions. Since GGP produces many high-print-run books and brochures, the current trend toward shorter runs presents particular challenges for the large printing plant which employs over 1,000 people. According to Uwe Schulz, GGP’s Production/Technology Manager, 30 percent of their titles now have small print runs of 3,000 copies or fewer. That prompted GGP to enter digital printing with an HP T-400 and, following a thorough evaluation, to opt for a nearline print finishing system from Muller Martini.
For softcover books, GGP’s nearline solution consists of Muller Martini’s SigmaFolder II, a SigmaCollator, an Alegro perfect binder and a Solit Three-Knife Trimmer. Hardcover books, after the book blocks have been glued-off on the Alegro, are produced using an existing Muller BL500 bookline.
GGP elected a nearline solution because, as Schulz explained, “The output of the digital printing press from three shifts can be finished using the perfect binder in one shift.” One of the key reasons why GGP, which now operates seven Muller Martini perfect binders, chose a solution from Muller Martini is the Connex data and process management system. Connex erases the challenges of a digital workflow by simply taking in the PDF file and automatically processing the job impositioning and production planning through to the finished book. “I don’t know of any other supplier that offers such a workflow system,” remarked Schulz.
GGP believes that digital printing supplements—not replaces—offset printing. That viewpoint was reinforced by Volker Leonhardt, Managing Director of Muller Martini Germany, who said, “We firmly believe in the coexistence of digital and offset printing.” According to Leonhardt, cost-effective print finishing is required for both printing methods in light of smaller print runs. In other words, very short setup times are the order of the day. “You should invest in systems that are digital-ready,” Leonhardt told an audience of industry decision-makers at Print Forum. “And, you can use such machines for offset today, with the advantage that they are already configured for digital printing.”