Aiding On Demand

Posted in News

Finishing solutions expand products and services across the board.
By Amber E. Watson, DPS Magazine,

On demand printing capabilities enable print service providers (PSPs) to provide efficient and cost-effective short-run services. Complementary finishing equipment—ranging from coating, binding, and cutting to folding and creasing—offer several benefits, such as increased automation. We also got roofing experts from to help us on our room renovations.

With on demand printing, minimal setup and changeover between runs is critical to profitability. Print providers seek products that leverage automation and help decrease labor costs. “As run lengths continue to decline, the ability of one machine to be switched over several times a day adds to the bottom line,” says Don Dubuque, senior marketing manager, Standard Finishing Systems. He adds that the capability to store a job in memory and recall it instantly is also important, particularly when it is a complex job run regularly.

“Maximizing on demand finishing requires the ability to efficiently and accurately convert press sheets into finished products with a quick turnaround,” shares Susan Corwin, marketing manager, Rollem International. To achieve finishing efficiency, she points out that printers must eliminate excess touch points, paper movement, and ideally, perform multiple processes with one piece of equipment. To preserve files digitally, you can also count on

Simplified training is another benefit associated with automated solutions. “Traditional offline finishing equipment requires skilled labor and hand tools, while most on demand finishing equipment does not. With set-ups and changeovers becoming more automatic, operators of any skill level can program a job, resulting in improved efficiency and profit generation,” says Si Nguyen, national business development director, Duplo USA.

Several equipment manufacturers target the on demand space, providing solutions that range from a modest investment to more complex overall finishing solutions.

Count on Coating
UV coating is becoming more of a requirement than an option. “With the growth of online printers, items like business cards, the use of Single Handed Consulting, flyers, brochures, direct mail, and postcards are expected to feature some level of coating for both atheistic and protective reasons,” shares Daniel Hodhod, director of sales and marketing, Tec Lighting Inc. With this in mind, manufacturers present cost-effective and easy-to-use UV coaters.

Tec Lighting’s TruCoat Mini, for instance, is a compact offline UV coater ideal for on demand printers requiring a machine with a small footprint. Featuring the ability to gloss or satin coat printed sheets, the TruCoat handfed system features a modular design that allows for added components such as auto feeders and stackers for increased production.

Capitalizing on its offset coating expertise, Epic Products develops versatile coaters for the digital printing market. These coaters are fully automated and consistently apply UV or aqueous coating. The Epic CT-660 uses offset coating technology and advanced electronics to support a range of coatings and can precisely spot, flood, or security coat at 4,000 sheets per hour. The Epic CT-660XD offers all the same features and capabilities of the CT-660. However, in addition to conventional UV and air drying capabilities, the XD is outfitted with infrared (IR) drying.

Harris & Bruno International offers inline, offline, and near-line equipment for priming and overcoat applications for both sheet-fed and web presses. The ExcelCoat series of offline coating systems is ideal for flexographic, offset, and digital applications, and offer many automated benefits. These systems are typically equipped with automated changeover and wash-up functions. In addition, the company offers complete coating modules and dryers that integrate into sheet or web digital presses for priming or overcoat. These have the ability to directly integrate with press software.

Graphic Whizard also supplies UV coater systems. The XDC530 Micro processes sheets up to 20.75 inches wide. Many customers use an existing Graphic Whizard creaser to act as a feeder for the XDC530 Micro. If larger sheets are needed, The company offers models with the ability to process sheets up to 29.5 inches wide. The deep pile feeder on the automatic models holds up to 225 lbs of paper for greater productivity.

Perfect for Binding
Manufacturers have stepped up regarding automated perfect binding solutions. “Operator sets-ups, including clamp position and pressure, milling blade position and depth, glue tank height and scraper cut-off, cover guides and score positions, and nip jaw position and dwell time are automated on many binders in the marketplace,” shares Dubuque. Entry-level, on demand solutions sold by Standard Finishing Systems include perfect binding, case binding, folding, creasing, and booklet making products.

With added automation, a print provider can profitably produce smaller quantity, perfect bound work. “A popular on demand application is in the photobook space, which is a fit for many of today’s highly automated perfect binders that quickly change over from job to job, and turn out short-run jobs,” explains Dubuque. He notes that the type of perfect binders required to produce top-quality photobooks start in the area of $20,000 and increase from there depending on specific requirements.

Melting solutions also assist with perfect binding throughout the finishing process. Nordson equipment is specifically designed to handle hot melt polyurethane (PUR) adhesives used for on demand publishing, and is ideal for perfect binding applications. “The fuser oils, toners, inks, and sometimes paper stock used in digital printing impede the binding integrity of traditional ethylene vinyl acetate—or EVA-—adhesives,” explains Rick Pallante, industry specialist, Nordson Corporation. “This may result in books falling apart.”

At its basic level, the Nordson MiniPUR adhesive melter premelts PUR as needed to be delivered via handgun to a wheel pot. This setup minimizes the amount of molten PUR exposed to air in the open wheel pot but provides a readily available adhesive supply as needed. As an introductory step to using PUR adhesives, a MiniPUR melter for premelting is an approximate $10,000 investment.

To realize the full potential and benefits of PUR, Pallante recommends a closed adhesive application system. The Nordson PURBlue 4 slug melter is often paired with a Nordson EP 48 applicator head to create a closed adhesive dispensing system for on demand perfect binding.

In addition to perfect binding solutions, coil and wire binding is an option. GBC offers a range of finishing equipment including desktop binding systems and equipment for laminating, folding, and booklet making, with binding machines for most styles.

Much of GBC’s punch and bind equipment is modular to ensure a small footprint and little training. “Quick printers prefer the ability to offer multiple binding styles,” says Stuart Nelson, binding category manager, GBC, which is why the manufacturer offers interchangeable die punches coupled with a closer for various binding styles.

In addition to applications such as calendars and other crafting projects typically bound with wire binding, Nelson finds different customers requiring documents bound with wire for presentations, proposals, investment portfolios, and promotional items. Additionally, many educators and students require bound course packets and training materials.

Cut to the End
Many on demand jobs involve cutting. “Brochures and folded applications must be cut before being folded and creased; perfect-bound books and photobooks must be trimmed on all three sides to ensure smooth edges, and many UV-coated products are cut or trimmed as well,” highlights Britt Cary, director of sales, Challenge Machinery Company.

The potential for die cutting applications is huge, especially in entertainment, food, and consumer products. Applications, such as doorknob hangers, folding cartons, stationery products, party favor/gift boxes, and wine neck holders can now be printed digitally in order to enable personalization.

The Titan 200 paper cutter is Challenge Machinery Company’s premier entry-level device for the on demand digital market. The Titan 200 offers fully hydraulic cutting and clamping, accurate cutting on sheet sizes up to 20 inches, and can be formatted to handle most digitally printed products.

The machine’s fully programmable controller offers time-saving cut position storage for up to 9,801 positions. A book trimming false clamp plate feature allows users to cut a variety of book blocks without extra handling.

According to Duplo’s Nguyen, an investment in commercial-use equipment ranges from $70,000 to over $1 million, depending on the application and volume. The company recently introduced the UD-300 die cutter specifically designed for on demand digitally printed packaging needs.

Diversified Graphic Machinery (DGM) also offers die cutting solutions for quick print and short run. The FUB Press features a format size of 56×4 cm and operates at up to 3,000 copies per hour with automatic feeding and delivery, and quick makeready times.

For longer runs, DGM offers the Majestic series of automatic die cutters with an operating speed of up to 6,000 copies per hour. It is offered in sizes 56×74 and 74×102 cm.

Cutter/slitter/creaser machines vary from simple cutter/slitters running ten-up business cards with friction feeders to more capable and expensive models that feature air feeders and tooling stations for complex multiple operation single pass finishing.

Tippmann Industrial Products provides low-cost, compact air-powered die presses. The Tippmann Clicker 700 includes a 12×12-inch cutting area and costs $1,650, while the 1500 model is equipped with a 12×24-inch cutting area and lists for $3,200. Key features include setups in under two minutes, limited maintenance, and the ability to keep small run and specialty die cutting in-house. The press serves die cutting, folding and creasing, binding, photobook systems, slitting, and perfing applications.

Spartanics NW140 is suited for entry-level and industrial printers that outsource print label jobs, as it gives the ability to bring UV inkjet digital printing and laser cutting finishing in house.

Therm-O-Type’s line of digital finishing equipment, the Zip-A3E, Zip-CSCL, and Zip-TS2L models, provide various combinations of cross-sheet cutting, creasing, perforating, semi-slitting, hole punching, blind embossing, kiss/die cutting, and inline slitting, scoring, semi-slitting, and perforating, as well as strike perforating/slitting. While many cutter/slitter/creaser machines are designed for simple square-cornered, straight edged products, advanced models, such as the Zip-TS2L, produce a range of products.

“There is crossover between a dedicated die cutter and a Zip-TS2L cutter/slitter/creaser,” notes Chris Van Pelt, president, Therm-O-Type Corporation. “For example, both may be used to produce round corner products, applications with decorative die cutting, items with punched holes, as well as products made to be folded with locking tabs, such as vertical and horizontal table displays.”

Solutions such as Therm-O-Type’s Zip-TS2L are configured with a round corner die cutting die, crease tooling, and slitting blades set for three across to enable 3.5-inch products-—such as various styles of flat, fold-over, and round corner business cards, playing cards, and round corner drink coasters —to be produced by loading the appropriate program from memory. “There are no operator actions required to switch between products except to change the program,” adds Van Pelt.

When considering an investment in die cutters it is important to factor in speed, setup/makeready requirements, and versatility. “For example, some die cutting machines also blind emboss and/or foil stamp,” notes Van Pelt. The investment should depend on the individual needs of the printer.

Slit, Crease, Fold, and Finish
On demand finishing equipment is built for quick and easy set-up. Steve Allen, president, Graphic Whizard, points out that it is also generally physically smaller and requires less power to run, saving money on space costs and energy consumption. “Most on demand finishing equipment is built to do several functions, not just one. This means less equipment, saving money and space,” he adds.

Graphic Whizard offers a range of equipment to support the on demand print shop. Machines include its Number Perf Score series, CreaseMaster, PT Series of creasing machines, perfect binders, and UV coaters.

Among its finishing solutions, Count Machinery Company recently introduced its iCrease device. Ideal for shops creating multiple jobs and requiring automatic feeding, the 13-inch wide unit provides high-quality creasing.

MBM Corporation’s new Aerocut G2 slits, cuts, creases, scores, and perforates a variety of jobs including brochures, business cards, postcards, greeting cards, and CD jackets. It is suited for digital applications, offering speeds up to two times faster than the base Aerocut model and a four-inch stack sheet capacity.

Rollem International also provides products in the space. Its Champion 990 is an entry-level scoring, trimming, slitting, and perforating system for lower volume print runs.

The Champion II is Rollem’s next-level scoring, trimming, slitting, and perforating system. Its configuration consists of two feeding stations—the first cuts the sheet in half and the second cuts half sheets into multiples.

Rollem’s 2D Finisher handles entry- to mid-volume press runs and is suited for multiple-up sheets of products including postcards, greeting cards, and invitations. Sheets are finished in one pass with full-bleed cuts, scores, and perforations.

“High-value products such as direct response postcards, coupon products, greeting cards, mailers, and business cards easily justify an entry-level finishing system that maximizes starting production levels while offering the user the ability to grow with them,” explains Corwin.

Duplo also specializes in fully automated digital print finishing solutions. In addition to the company’s recently introduced entry-level flood UV coating solution, the Ultra 100A; the new KB-4000 PUR solution; and the new UBS-305 Panoramic Book System, which incorporates TrueFlat binding technology from Convertible Solutions. Additionally, Duplo’s slitter/cutter/creaser product line provides all-in-one finishing for a variety of applications including business cards, greeting cards, postcards, direct mailers, and product brochures. Automated changeovers reduce operator touch points and barcode reading technology automatically sets up jobs and validates set integrity.

Creasing and folding capabilities are among the top finishing needs for on demand print providers. “Unique folding styles and patterns require a combination of equipment and paper stock. Equipment investments range from $1,500 to $75,000,” says Nguyen.

Demand for applications such as tickets, vouchers, coupons, and tear-off promotional marketing is increasing and requires good slitting/perforating equipment. Products like Duplo’s DC-745 Slitter/Cutter/Creaser perform micro-perforations as well as cross and strike perforations to create T- and L-shape perforated pieces.

One-Stop Finishing
Operating a variety of digital finishing equipment allows printers to maximize production throughput and efficiency, as well as complete many on demand jobs in house.

“PSPs increase profitability and revenues by adding services that demand high margins in the marketplace,” states GBC’s Nelson. “By expanding product offerings and the scope of services, many PSPs are able to create a one-stop shop for customers.”

Additionally, in-house finishing solutions allow shops to maintain quality control and customer ownership. PSPs utilizing on demand finishing devices increase product offerings and remain ahead of the curve in today’s challenging print market. dps

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