Tuesday, 08 Jan 2019 15:17 GMT

Finishing Technology

As print-service-providers seek other ways to differentiate themselves from the competition, Rob Fletcher finds out how the latest finishing technology can help your company stand out from the crowd

Racing ahead

Although digital technology is growing more popular and influential by the day, there are a lot of people who still prefer to hold a piece of print in their hands. If you ask them about the reasons for this, more often than not, they will speak about how they like the ‘feel’ of printed products.

Much of this sensation comes down to how a piece of print is finished. There is a real sense of satisfaction in holding print that has been finished to the highest of qualities. But, in order to offer such quality to customers, you need to have the best kit in place.

Luckily for print-service-providers (PSPs), development is thriving in this area and new products are coming to market all the time. Here, we take a closer look at some of the latest technology and analyse how it can help PSPs enhance their output.

Essential investment

One of the leading names in the finish sector is Duplo, which has a wide range of kit to offer PSPs. Andy Benson, managing director for Duplo UK, says investment in new kit here is vital if PSPs are to keep up with the pace of the modern market.

“In order to stay competitive in a changing market, it is no longer optional, but essential that businesses keep pace with technological advancements,” Benson says, adding: “If you stand still, your competitors are most likely going to attract your customers, as they will be able to compete on price, offer a wider range of services and deliver the products within shorter timescales.

Among the latest products from Duplo is the iSaddle X Saddle Stitcher, designed to handle both offset and digital printed stock. The machine is fully automatic, offering job changeover of finished book size from 300 x 300mm to 75 x 120mm within 60 seconds without the need for manual intervention. Also, its 2 Scoring mechanism—interchangeable male and female scoring tools—eliminates issues such as cracking and marking.
Also new is the Duplo PFi BIND 2100 PUR, which features a gluing application combined with complete automation that the company says will enable PSPs to bring profitable short-run, on-demand book binding jobs in-house.

In addition, Duplo has launched the DC-516 adaptive Cutter Creaser for high production environments. It boasts a high capacity feed tray and collection stacker with automated job separation to enable non-stop production, which Duplo says makes it ideal for cutting business cards or postcards.

Duplo’s new DC-516 adaptive Cutter Creaser boasts a high capacity feed tray and collection stacker with automated job separation to enable non-stop production

Benson adds: “With the enhanced performance of digital print engines offering a broader range of products, there is a requirement to find appropriate and cost-effective finishing solutions for an ever-changing market.”

Keep up with the pace

Elsewhere, Vivid Laminating Technologies has recently unveiled its new range of Magnum range of cut, crease, slit, perforation and fold systems, designed for use in digital print environments. Patented features include Sniper Technology on the MC-35/35A creaser, whereby the crease/perf position is set automatically using printed or even hand-drawn tick marks, meaning jobs require virtually no set-up. Also, the progressive function on the same system enables lay flat creases for perfect binding and a square back feature.

Iain Thornton, marketing manager at Vivid, comments: “All Magnum systems work well with thicker papers and laminated stock and include features that facilitate easy set-up and a quick change from one job to the next, including pre-set and custom programs, touch-screen displays and deep pile feeders across various models.”

Also new at Vivid is the latest Easycoat system, a gluing solution that adds a layer of adhesive to media to bond it to another. Sheets can be built-up to create a thick substrate that can be used for applications such as book covers and luxury business cards.

O Factoid: The guillotine, a key part of the finishing process for many PSPs, traces its origin back to the Middle Ages, where it was put to use in a much more gruesome way: execution. O

The manufacturer is also continuing to develop the Matrix lamination, foil and spot UV system, with the launch of the Omni-Flow deep pile feeder, and a 20m/min system. In addition, it has introduced new films and foils including biodegradable and linen-textured lamination films, cracked ice spot UV effect and printable foils.

As to why PSPs should commit to new investment in finishing, Thornton says: “It is important to continually improve so PSPs can offer their digital print-buying customers the services they require in the time-scales they expect. Digital is a faster-paced market than litho where a large job can be sent out for lamination or finishing or where the cost of hot foil dies and set-up can be justified.

If PSPs stand still, they can get left behind in the ever-evolving print market, digital in particular

“If PSPs stand still, they can get left behind in the ever-evolving print market, digital in particular. What worked for litho no longer works for digital and, as the market increasingly moves to shorter and shorter runs, printers need to have the infra-structure in place that allows them to meet this new demand efficiently and profitably.”

Automation is key

Another leading name in this sector is Renz, which offers solutions for various parts of the finishing process. Iain Bullock, managing director at Renz UK, warns that if PSPs do not regularly review what they are doing, there is a danger they could get left behind.

Bullock expands: “Faster, easier to set up and more flexible solutions support a wider job mix and increase production throughput all of which contribute to the bottom line. They also support responsive pricing which is essential in a highly competitive market.”

With this in mind, Bullock picks up on the benefits of automation and how this can help not only the quality of the final product, but boost overall production performance at a company.

He says: “Constant manufacturer innovation is focused on helping PSPs meet today’s market demands of quicker makeready and turnaround times for short run jobs with minimum downtime. This is why operations should let technology be their friend.

“Automation is available in several forms enabling fast and easy set up with touch screen assisted makereadies and job memory storage. It helps reduce human touchpoints, product handling and increase productivity. It also allows for a more flexible workforce with operators becoming multi skilled on a variety of machines.”

In terms of what is new from Renz, Bullock picks out a number of solutions, such as the Renz Inline 500 Compact. He says this automatic punching and binding machine for books and calendars delivers a “significant increase in productivity compared to semi-automatic machines”. It runs up to 1,100 products per hour and binds up to 20mm thickness and a width of 500mm.

Also new from Renz is the Argos F400 HD Cold UV Coater, which provides a protective layer to add value to any printed document and protects it from scratching and fingerprints.

The new Bindomatic Accel Ultra from Renz is a thermal cover binding device that allows batch-feeding of up to 50 documents in one go

Elsewhere, the Bindomatic Accel Ultra is a new, thermal cover binding machine creates bound documents for corporate print rooms, in-plants, and print shops. Its A4 portrait format and handles from one to 150 sheets of 80gsm, while the device allows batch-feeding of up to 50 documents in one go.

Renz now offers the Bindomatic Accel Cube thermal cover binding machine produces bound documents for corporate print rooms, in-plants, and print shops. It features the new ‘Drop&Go’ Technology, enabling binding speeds of up to 60 documents per minute.

Profitable business

Intelligent Finishing Systems offers solutions across the finishing part of production. Managing director Bryan Godwyn says that finishing can be a very profitable part of a business and, as such, PSPs should invest properly.

Godwyn expands: “With finishing often the most profitable part of most print jobs, getting it right is critical. If there are any errors profits will be lost and costs incurred. That is why it is so vital that any finishing processes are handled efficiently and quickly with easy to set up and run systems.

“Enabling this are significant technology enhancements delivered by constantly evolving technology. PSPs need to be constantly aware of what is available and how it can benefit them.”

With this in mind, Godwyn draws attention to some of the latest kit available from Intelligent Finishing Systems, including the new StitchLiner MkIII. This next-generation machine runs at a top speed of 6,000bph and up to 12,000bph with two-up production, as well as being capable of producing A4 landscape booklets at speeds of up to 5,300bph.

The next-generation Horizon BQ480 variable four-clamp 800bph perfect binder is suitable for high quality perfect bound book production

Also new is the Horizon BQ480 variable four-clamp 800bph perfect binder that, according to Godwyn, is suitable for high quality perfect bound book production. The device supports both EVA hotmelt glue and PUR hotmelt glue and features customised automated setup, accounting for paper type, signature vs. loose sheet, sewn book blocks, notch binding and other key factors.

In addition, the new Foliant Mercury 400 NG 4X4 double-sided laminating system is suitable for mid to higher volume double-sided lamination such as menus, leaflets and flyers. It feature a new system for heating up in less than 10 minutes, allowing for a fast makeready and enabling a top speed of 25m/min, or 3,000 B3sph.

Godwyn comments: “Standing still is always dangerous as your customers won’t and neither will your competition. Change is challenging but a vital part of not only life but the business cycle.”

Efficiency and effectiveness

Casting the net a little wider and Terry Cooper Services has recently added two new products to its collection in the form of the Yawa TDS-750 automatic foil-stamping, die-cutting and embossing machine and the Bagel iLam Pro SRA3 laminator.

The Yawa TDS-750 can handle a range of substrates such as paper, cardboard, corrugated board and plastic sheets, making it suitable for applications such as labels, boxes, book covers and folding boxes. It boasts a top speed of 2,500sph and can handle a maximum sheet size of 560 x 750mm.

The Bagel iLam Pro SRA3 is suited to high quality general commercial print, as it boasts double-sided lamination in a single pass capability. Much like the B2 Bagel Digifav and B3 Bagel Mini Lam sister-solutions, it has an automatic feeder with touchscreen set up.

Dean Stayne, director at Terry Cooper Services, says it is critical to invest in new finishing kit such as these two products in order to keep up with changing pace of the industry.

Stayne says: “PSPs need to efficiently and effectively complete shorter run jobs quickly and to a high quality. At the same time they want to see a healthy lift in their profitability. By investing in faster, systems and solutions that deliver value-added options or expand service delivery they can open up fresh opportunities with a view to potentially growing their profitability.”

As we move into the New Year, we can look forward to even more developments in this area of the market, which, according to manufacturers and suppliers alike, offer many opportunities for PSPs to make more money and win new business.

Muller Martini

Muller Martini is known across the print world for its finishing technology and has recently introduced a number of new products to market.

The Presto II Digital saddle stitching system enables new stitching options and can be combined with digital print to help user tap into new segments such as magazines and catalogue printing, as well as personalised print products. It can also be configured for offset, giving more choice to the user.

Elsewhere, The Vareo / InfiniTrim binder is billed by the company as a “compact all-rounder”. Users can process individual softcover and liner brochures as an inline configuration with the InfiniTrim three-knife trimmer, with the company pledging “unprecedented speed and efficiency”.

Another manufacturer, Muller Martini offers the Connex workflow system to assist with the finishing process. The module automatically records and collects all production data of connected production lines, allowing users to carry out an evaluation of the technical production and analyse how improvements can be made.