Green Button Technology in Print Finishing
Years after the Green Button Revolution changed the way we print, that same concept is now coming to the bindery.August 2012 By Al Boese
But where did this leave print finishing, the overlooked stepchild of the printing industry?
Print finishing was an analog world from the beginning and has remained so almost without exception until a few years ago. The shining exception was the Fastback thermal strip binding process developed by Powis Parker in the mid 1990s. That product was a glorious success owing to several factors, including aesthetics (the finished bound book looked great), operator simplicity, versatility and modern industrial design. It was a pioneer in the Green Button Revolution.
Green Button Lamination
It was not until early 2000 that the next Green Button Print finishing machine came along. This time it was a laminator, somewhat surprising in that lamination was the most analog in a pantheon of solidly non-digital print finishing processes. Competent laminator operators were hard to find due to the tricky requirements of setting up and running a job.
This all changed with the introduction of the ALM 3220, a fully automatic laminator. Designed by FujiPla of Japan and introduced by DryLam, the ALM 3220 changed the way the industry thought about lamination. Beginning with this machine, we can more or less date the onset of an ever-growing parade of Green Button finishing equipment. These new machines are large and small, inline and offline with an increasing level of sophistication that is changing everything again.
At the recent BindRite Dealer Association's trade show at the JW Marriott in Palm Desert, Calif., our members were blown away by new Green Button equipment, especially small console and desktop models that will appeal to the corporate in-plant digital printer. We saw another generation of smaller sizes, simplicity of operation, versatility, economics and, above all, quality.
The lineup included the MBM Aerocut, which cuts, creases, slits, scores and perfs in one step, and the Powis Parker Fastback 20, demonstrating custom-imaged tape binding strips. Other notable examples were the Count Machinery iCrease creasing machine, the Formax folder inserter and programmable digital guillotine cutters from Standard Horizon and MBM.
Just why is Green Button digital technology so important and what are the benefits to the owners and users of this new design approach? In the final analysis, it means greater productivity by minimizing wasted labor and material costs. Time is saved because the user interface is intuitive and simple. Many standard jobs are pre-programmed, and custom work can be stored for future use.
Job setup is simple, swift and precise. Machine operation during a job run is automatic, freeing an operator to prepare the material for the next job or other multitasking activity. Likewise, material is conserved because makeready is essentially eliminated and a perfect result is usually achieved on the first sheet or book.
Most of us at the trade show took away a feeling that Green Button technology is alive and flourishing, but with even more potential for the future. Seeing the manufacturers' commitment to forward thinking equipment design is revealing about the importance and size of that segment of the digital printing market.IPG