How Digital Is Re-Shaping Finishing

Back in the day, the bindery (and finishing in general) was a fairly distinct environment, with some established processes and workflows that had not changed in many decades, (or longer!). This continued to be the case up until several years ago, when high-speed continuous inkjet presses began to take off.

For the first time, it was possible to load up a “white paper” roll and rewind a completed, full-color, variable data roll on the other end. This spurred an interest (and realization) in roll finishing solutions. Why? Well, putting a finishing device inline with an inkjet press may be the most efficient system. But, the finishing device always has the potential to stop the press at any time.

This is why a roll input for digital finishing has become probably the “go to” method. A roll input guarantees product integrity. Unlike cut sheets, nothing can be dropped accidentally, or placed out-of-order. The only downside is if that “rush job” is located close to the roll core.

Rolls also hold a lot of paper, so a finishing device can run for an hour (or more) before a roll change is required. And a roll change can take only a few minutes. The current crop of roll-to-finish systems out there can perform a wide variety of individual steps in the finishing process. In addition to simply cutting the web into sheets, they can plow-fold, slit-and-merge the web, buckle fold, apply perforations based on barcode, and create book blocks ready for perfect binding.

This new finishing modality replaces the old offset signature method with a web-based, single operator (in many cases) model that is highly efficient, and eliminates many of the errors caused by the handling of signatures.

And, we’re only at the beginning of this revolution. There will be newer web-based systems coming down the pike that will add more functions and features, and at higher throughput speeds. So get ready!

By: Don Piontek