Graph Expo: Finishing for Hybrid Workflows
Here's a close-up look at the binding and finishing technologies shown at Graph Expo.November 2012 By Erik Cagle
Will we ever go back to long-run offset work? Is the variability and one-off flexibility of the digital press turning the old, heavy iron obsolete? If the Obama-Romney rhetoric parade of 2012 taught us anything, it's that the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.
One thing is certain. If you plan on catering to both disciplines, it behooves today's in-plant to have finishing capabilities that speak to the needs of conventional and digital printing.
"Is it digital, conventional or one world?" posed Steven Calov, product manager for Heidelberg USA. "Customers are struggling with how to address it. They need to set up a digital postpress environment. If you try to do it all in one area, you'll run into scheduling problems. If you try to commingle it with traditional printing work…it doesn't always fit."
Heidelberg's finishing space at Graph Expo reflected gear aimed at hybrid workflows. One of the newer offerings being touted was the programmable Polar 56 (NET version) cutter with hydraulic drive, equipped with an 18.5˝, touch-sensitive display. The Polar 56 easily cuts small formats up to SRA 3, and comes with digital workflow integration via P-NET and Compucut.
In order to start the cutting program automatically, the machine is furnished with a barcode reader, enabling near-zero setup times. Process visualization gives the operator a graphic indication of the material handling, minimizing the possibility of error. Compucut takes the cutting data supplied as PPF or JDF files direct from prepress and generates the cutting program automatically. Repeat sequences can be saved and adapted at any time, with nearly 2,000 memory positions.
Standard Finishing had a host of innovations on display, such as the Standard Horizon HT-1000V variable three-knife trimmer, capable of one-to-one variable trimming, in-line with a perfect binder or off-line. Setup and variable trimming are achieved by reading a barcode printed on the book cover, and up to 1,000 variable-thickness and variable-format size books can be trimmed per hour. The HT-1000V delivers trimmed books from 5.7x4.05˝ up to 13.38x11.69˝.
Also new was the Standard Horizon CRF-362 creaser/folder, designed to handle digital color output on a range of light and heavy weight stocks, coated or uncoated. The impact scoring eliminates or minimizes cracking. It comes configured with seven selectable fold patterns and six selectable cover creasing patterns for perfect binding. It can handle sheets up to 14.33x34˝.
Among the products on display at the Duplo USA booth was the UD-300 on-demand cutting system. At 3,000 sheets/hour, the UD-300 is ideally suited for carton folding, label applications, doorknob hangers, favor boxes and tags, among other products.
Two other new cutters were unveiled by MBM Corp. at the show: the Triumph 4860 automatic programmable cutter and the Aerocut G2 digital printing finishing system. The G2 boasts faster production speeds and increased capacity, plus it features an improved touchscreen interface, increased memory and cross-perfing capability. The G2 cuts, slits, creases, scores and perforates a variety of jobs, including brochures, business cards, post cards and CD jackets. Stocks including laminated UV coated and large-format (up to 63˝) can be creased and scored without cracking, even with full-bleed coverage. The Triumph 4860 is an 18-7⁄8˝ cutter with two-step blade activation bars that feature separate trigger points for the blade and clamp.
Baum rolled out a new line of guillotine cutters, including the new BaumCut 22 series, with a maximum cutting width of 22.05˝ and an ergonomically positioned 18.5˝ touch-screen display. The cutter line will also include both the E and N series cutters for the BaumCut 22, BaumCut 26.4 and BaumCut 31.5 cutter models that offer a choice of easy programming and expandable memory features. The N series includes a barcode scanner that can read a barcode for a given job, automatically search the cutter program database and set up the cutter for automatic mode.
Baum also debuted the Baum 32 continuous feed folder with a maximum sheet size of 32.28x50.39˝. It features convenient front and side blow controls, a new vacuum control design, and fast, accurate and easy roller settings.
Spiral/James Burn garnered plenty of attention with its Snakeskin Wire-O, which is packaged in a flexible plastic skin that prevents the wire from tangling. Packaged in a box—minus the spool core—it provides up to three times as many loops while eliminating the recycling of spools.
Spiral James Burn also showed the Fujipla ALM 3220 automatic laminating machine, featuring automatic feeding, laminating and automatic framing capabilities. It takes only three minutes to finish laminating 10 sheets of letter size paper. Also being touted was the single-sided laminator line produced by Czech Republic-based Foliant, including the new Gemini C400A. Spiral/James Burn is the exclusive North American distributor for the laminators.
Morgana Systems drew rave reviews for its DocuMaster Pro bookletmaker system, which can be used as a bookletmaker, creaser or perforator. The machine creases the sheets as part of the feeding and booklet-making operation. The DocuMaster Pro handles multi-weight pre-collated stocks, with speeds of 1,200 booklets/hour. The machine features a 7˝ SmartScreen touchscreen and is JDF and variable-data ready.
Muller Martini used Graph Expo as a platform to further promote its MMServices. One of the main offerings under this umbrella is MMUptodate, which provides machine updates that enable older equipment to run efficiently while maintaining optimal performance levels. One piece of equipment that drew attention for Muller Martini at the show was the Diamant MC bookline for hardcover book production. The machine is available as the MC 35 (2,100 cycles/hour) and the MC 60 (3,600 cycles/hour).
The Digibinder Plus perfect binder adds a stand, waste removal system and safety cover to Spiel Associates' most popular machine, notes David Spiel, company president. The Digibinder Plus also features heavier duty notching pins that facilitate binding of more "problem" stocks. Spiel also recently released the I-glue, which is designed for oil-infused stocks.
The Challenge Machinery Co. introduced a new operating system for its Titan and Champion paper cutter lines. The new TC Controller System, scheduled to be available in early 2013, boasts a color touch screen panel with intuitive prompts to improve ease of use. Faster backgauge positioning and instant start-up increase cutting efficiency. Ethernet and USB ports allow the TC to receive programs automatically.
Kirk-Rudy enjoyed a solid performance courtesy of its KR545T tabber. The company sold a handful at the show, notes Tim Geary, Kirk-Rudy's product manager for inkjet systems. The KT545T applies tabs to three sides in a single pass to meet the new USPS specifications for self-mailers and booklet tabbing regulations. It handles 18˝ rolls and runs all major types of tabs, along with pressure-sensitive stamps and labels of various shapes and sizes.
GBC introduced a standalone version of its 5031TS feeder, which can be used with two-sided laminators for both hot and cold laminating applications. It can feed paper stocks from 20 # bond to 24 pt. cover stock, (75–480 gsm), and operate up to 50 feet per minute, running sheets between 11˝ and 40˝ in length. The feeder's portable design allows the operator to easily move the device from one laminating station to another.
MGI USA won a Must See 'Ems award for its JETvarnish 3D UV coater, which can produce raised 3D spot embossing, as well as traditional flat spot UV coating directly onto most digital or offset prints with no lamination required. It boasts production speeds up to 3,000 sheets per hour and handles sheet sizes up to 20x42˝. A new camera system ensures precise registration to printed pages
One of the highlights at the Rollem Corp. booth was the new Mailstream automated direct mail finishing system, which can be fitted with inkjet heads, run off-line or in-line with a digital press. The Mailstream transforms sheets into cut, scored and/or perforated direct mailers containing coupons or tip-on cards. Rollem demonstrated a two-up mailer that was four-side trimmed, center slit and separated, scored, strike perforated, and the card tipped on with final folding and glue closure.