Green Button Technology in Print Finishing
Beginning in the mid-90s of the last century, digital technology changed the world and the printing industry along with it. This was a revolution indeed, as the devices employed by printers—while improved over time—had remained substantially unchanged over centuries.
In the late 20th century however, the digital revolution tore down everything within a couple of decades. If you were a cold type setter in 1980, you were working a Compugraphic phototypesetter in 1990 or not working at all. If you were a darkroom film stripper in 1980, you were learning color management software in 2000.
Most people date the beginning of this massive metamorphosis to the introduction of digital imagesetters, a disruptive technology that changed prepress forever. Because these devices could go directly from artwork file to press, they single-handedly eliminated facilities, darkrooms, cameras and stripping.
It was in the late 20th century, however, that the seeds of the next phase were sown. This was when prepress technology made the jump to imaging directly to plates already installed on the press—skipping the film stage altogether. This was the beginning of what I call the Green Button Revolution.
What is the Green Button Revolution?
Basically, it is the next stage of automation in digital printing, and it is now beginning to affect all phases of paper handling, binding, protecting and the other print finishing processes. Green Button means that worker intervention is minimized; in its most ideal form, the operator merely needs to load the machine and press a button (which is most often green). The final product comes out the other end.
In the late 20th century, the Green Button Revolution was already manifesting itself in other ways. Office copiers were moving toward a green button state, increasingly deploying touch pad controls to select the myriad options available to the operator. Along the way, these machines were becoming multifunctional in ways that the old office mimeograph user could not have imagined.