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What's Your Line

What is the best finishing solution for your digital printers, in-line, near-line or off-line? Three printers tout the advantages they have found in each.

July 2012 By Erik Cagle
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"Until recently, we would print 200 digital jobs a day and go to the cutters, folders, stitchers," explains Ira Wechsler, vice president of operations for Prestone Printing. "But we found that we were running short on most jobs.

"Since purchasing the Duplo slitter and stitcher, waste is down to a minimum," he adds. "We've also found that it is so much quicker and there's no chance of packaging errors. I love that we can print, slit and pack with one person."

Off-line Advantages

Sometimes, finishing equipment is just too quick to be integrated in-line with a digital press. That was the case with Mail Print, a 24-year-old Kansas City, Mo.-based operation that generates—you guessed it—personalized direct mail along with saddlestitched and perfect-bound books. President Eric Danner says the company has become adept at digital work, which touches 95 percent of the items produced by Mail Print.

"Virtually everything we print is personalized in some way," he says.

Digital printing rolls off a quartet of HP Indigo presses and an HP T200 inkjet web press at Mail Print. Danner believes that the off-line finishing process has inherent advantages over in-line production.

"If the press stops, then the bindery stops. So why tie the two together?" he relates. "In the case of the bindery line we installed, it runs twice as fast as the web press. So, if I was running the press all the time, I'd still be under­utilizing the bindery line."

Long runs are an exception, not the rule, for Mail Print when it comes to direct mail production. The printer churns out between 20 and 30 jobs per day with an aggregate total of about 200,000 pieces. A long run length might touch the 50,000 range, according to Danner.

Mail Print relies on Standard Finishing for its digital postpress work. A roll-to-fold line features the Standard Hunkeler UW6 unwinder, DP6-II Dynamic perforator, CS6-II cutter, Standard Horizon AF-566F/T-564 folder and the PSX-56 presser/stacker. A second line consists of the HOF sheet feeder and StitchLiner saddlesticher, which feeds digitally printed sets and produces saddlestitched booklets.

An interesting benefit Mail Print has reaped is the publication work it has gained since installing the HP T200 and bindery line, which has resulted in short-run booklets.

"With our bindery line, we can easily fold those into signatures and print collated signatures," Danner notes. "The intention was to do direct mail pieces with perfs in them. The way we structured the bindery line, we can now print up to 20-page signatures, fold those and end up with collated book blocks." IPG


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