You may have some of the best folders, stitchers, trimmers, etc., in the market for your offset print, but if you invest in new digital print technology, the requirements changes – let’s understand why!
From transaction to commercial print
Since drupa back in 2020, I am pretty convinced that almost every printer in the world has heard about inkjet, and watching the development of the technology has been amazing. When some of the first inkjet presses came to market, they specifically addressed the transactional market – and served it well with high reliability, fast (for being digital), quality good enough for logo colors, and primarily printing transaction data. Most of the solutions were roll-based, and with millions of pages printed for the same application, rolls worked really well.
When Landa at drupa 2020 said, “Who dares to invest in inkjet with nanography around the corner,” that seemed to kickstart inkjet even further, and all the major digital print suppliers today offer outstanding solutions.
At the same time, a new trend also started to kick in, namely adding solutions not only roll-based but also sheet-based.
PSPs everywhere already used toner-based printers that, for the majority of brands and models, are sheet-based. Only Xeikon, back in 2020, delivered roll-based toner print since the beginning – and, of course, given them opportunities not possible by other technologies – a story in self. When HP introduced the Indigo 50000, I believe it was the first roll-based toner printer in the market besides the Xeikon.
Use existing binding equipment or optimize your entire workflow!
So why at talking about sheet vs. roll? Well, first of all, it’s always interesting to view and understand how the market and technology develop side by side. It’s essential to understand what technology to invest in by understanding the differences.
It’s the majority of the applications you sell that should decide what technology to use. Though I believe many PSPs often choose print engines first, it might be interesting to consider starting with the binding solution in the future. Do you mainly sell books? Stitched magazines? Many change-overs? Many types of paper? Do you need to add embellishment/enhancement?
If you sell books, you may choose one type of printer, and if you are a commercial printer with many different kinds of jobs, you may select another kind of printer.
Super Flexibility is why choose cut-sheet print- and finishing
With sheet-based printers, changing substrates is faster and more flexible. You can even combine different paper stocks in the same print job on many solutions, which is more complex on a roll-based solution. For some PSPs, a cut-sheet device is also easier to integrate with existing binding and enhancement solutions, so it’s good news that we see more and more vendors developing cut-sheet engines.
I wanted to write this article with a focus on cut-sheet finishing for a couple of reasons. If you are a PSP and maybe also print in offset, you, of course, already have binding equipment and know everything there is to know about folding, binding, trimming, etc. But, as you probably also know, the digital print engines offer capabilities that you have never been able to do in litho. Hence, the binding equipment needs to be upgraded to deliver. Let me give you an example.
If you produce a book that consists of, let’s say, 5-6 signatures of 16 pages, today you will print each sheet, and depending on how you process, the sheets will be folded, collated, glued, etc. But imagine you only need to do fifty books, ten books, or even one book? The cut-sheet finishing equipment you have today can’t deliver efficiently, and you will need finishing equipment aligned with your print engines. Ladies and gentlemen, this is not new. You have ALWAYS invested in technology that serves the purpose, and it’s time to consider how your future looks!
Welcome the B2 format
When you look at some of the cut-sheet engines in the market, you can also see another trend. HP Indigo and Fujifilm have for a long time delivered B2 sheet size, and in 2022 Ricoh also announced their first B2 cut-sheet engine. With the larger sheet size, the output of the machines increases, and binding equipment typically used for slower and smaller sheet sizes, i.e., toner-printers, may not be sufficient!
Hunkeler deliver cut-sheet finishing and even cut-stackers for rolls
Hunkeler is, as you know, one of the leading companies in the binding of digitally printed jobs and even partnered with other companies to deliver the right end-to-end solutions. Though Hunkeler is mainly providing roll-based solutions, cut-sheet finishing is not new. I remember when Canon introduced the i300, Hunkeler soon delivered an online solution for the machine serving the customer’s needs of high reliability and quality. You can also combine cut-sheet finishing if you have a roll-based printer since you can easily cut and stack sheets for further processing.
As usual, reach out to Hunkeler to get more information about their solutions, and well – let me grab the opportunity to suggest you also consider going to the Hunkeler Innovationdays in February 2022. I will be there and would LOVE to meet you and discuss all the exciting technologies that come to market these days!
About the author
Morten B. Reitoft
Morten Reitoft is the editor of INKISH News and INKISH TV. INKISH TV is a TV-channel for and about the print industry.
Through his numerous posts and videos around the printing industry, Morten has a broad expertise in digital printing and knows both the companies and technologies behind them.