Print is rapidly changing from being a traditional industry into a more business-driven trade. This is not necessarily through choice, it is more due to the necessity to survive in an ever increasing competitive market-place and become more efficient.
Only twenty or thirty years ago it was not beyond the realms of possibility to have a bindery section in a printers laden with leather belt driven machinery controlled from pulleys from the ceiling. However as printing press equipment has moved on so has the quality of print finishing equipment.
Finishing has developed itself into being a sophisticated ''Techie Specialist' that can add real value to a print line, rather than the Cinderella of old that didn't get to go to the ball along with its pre-press and press equivalents.
New developments in workflow, including JDF, as well as enhanced methods of paper feeding and accurate registration (to name but a few) have all combined to allow printers to turnaround jobs quicker at a higher quality of finish, leading on to better customer retention and better scope for new business.
Gone are the days that key accounts are lost with books falling apart after 1 week and gone is the reputation of bottle necking in the bindery. However, as the post-press industry has put a lot of emphasis on R&D to benefit the workflow of a print production environment, there has also been a positive knock-on effect to the environment as well.
With the introduction of JDF workflows into mature digital print environments the room for error at the bindery stage is now limited. Rather than rely on human communication between the print operator and the bindery manager to ensure the job is finished correctly, JDF uses the information stored in a job ticket created at the pre press stage to accurately map out every single stage of the production cycle of a printed job. Whether it be colour references, gutter widths or barcode referencing at the fulfilment stage, JDF has made printing and finish more accurate based on facts and figures, not human judgement.
Plus it has become no longer acceptable for 5% of a job to be wasted whilst setting up the finisher.
Whether it be for adjusting feed belts, setting the glue temperature to deal with the amount of toner of a sheet or adjusting the position of the sheet in the finisher to compensate for image shift. Margins have become tighter and with it print has become more expensive and with the increasing use of variable data the luxury of putting a few sheets to waste due to fine adjustments is no longer acceptable.
For example since 2006 all Duplo digital print finishing machinery has come with PC set-up as a standard. Not only gone are the days of manual set up with tools and brackets but also one dimensional LCD screen set-up will soon be extinct. Instead, driven by the advent of JDF, PC set-up on finishing machines is becoming more and more common. Not only can you import data from other parts of the printing line more easy, but when setting up a one-off job you can also see your finishing parameters displayed i.e. cut marks, crease marks, perforation marks, on the screen and ask yourself "does what I see on the screen resemble what I need to finish on the printed sheet?". If you have spotted an error on the PC, you save yourself a wasted printed sheet.
These technologies plus more efficient paper paths (less jamming), anti static sheet feeders (more efficient paper handling), barcode set-up (automotive set-up and less chance of human error), variable data page matching readers (less scrapped books) and auto divert rejected books (double-fed books that are diverted to a tray to then be reused, as apposed to being stitched and non reusable), finishing technology is helping to encourage a more responsible use of paper in the print environment.