A Stitch In Time Saves Money
Automation and compatibility with digital printing equipment have revolutionized stitching equipment, making operator involvement almost obsolete.
"Automation, automation, automation," declares Rick Trapilo, general manager and executive vice president of C.P. Bourg. This, he says, is the primary trend typifying today's stitching equipment.
Since operator skill levels vary greatly, Trapilo says, stitching equipment companies are making significant changes to reduce operator involvement.
"Threading a stitch head could be difficult for some operators," Trapilo explains. "We're virtually taking that setup issue out of the equation for an in-plant manager." Some automated features now include self-loading, self-threading and operator warning systems in the event of a problem, he says.
Paul Steinke, product manager for finishing systems at Duplo USA, agrees that the trend is towards automation, but warns that some systems that are called automated still require a certain amount of operator involvement.
Making stitching equipment compatible with digital equipment is also a concern for vendors, and many companies are now providing digital compatibility. When planning to use a stitcher with digital equipment, Steinke advises, consumers should check the design of the paper control mechanism.
"Particularly with output coming from electronic printing devices, the static content is higher and the paper is drier, so paper handling in the machine is very important," Steinke says.
Another point to consider, he adds, is how much volume your in-plant will be sending to the stitcher.
"When you are talking about the higher-volume equipment, the number-one thing that should be looked at is the type of stitch head that's being utilized," says Steinke. "Probably one of the most susceptible maintenance parts of the system is the stitch head."
Steinke says saddle stitching and booklet making are becoming more popular techniques due to advances in other printing areas.
"Prepress capabilities have increased drastically, enabling easier two-up printing, as well as a dramatic cost reduction in paper," he says. "Saddle stitching and booklet making is the least expensive overall process to accomplish."