Digital Print Finishing in tomorrow's printshop

31.03.2021

What drives innovation is a combination of expressed demand by customers and available technology

Predicting the future isn’t easy by any means, but when it comes to future printshops, digital print finishing will surely have a more dominant position than in the past. So let’s take a look at why this is the case. The Graphic Arts Industry has a long and proud history, always focusing on innovative technical solutions. Digital print finishing reacts to customer demand, and megatrends have for years shown that customers demand personalization, versions, short runs, and even faster turnaround time.

When Johannes Gutenberg invented what we now refer to as the mother of  the modern printing press, the monks needed bibles … they needed them faster and maybe more consistent, than hand-copying could deliver. The contemporary press was born, and the production of books took off. Of course, today’s presses and finishing are a completely different ball game, but the reason these solutions exist is the same – customer demand!

Henry Ford is credited with a famous remark: If he had asked people what they wanted they would have said faster horses. Had he listed, the cars would not be what they are today. In the same vein, sometimes print customers don’t know what’s possible, and the printing industry has the considerable task to show what’s possible with today’s technology.

When the first digital printers came to market, they could easily produce personalized printed products. Finishing, however, still required massive setup times and created waste. This is not the case anymore. Hunkeler is one of the front runners concerning digital print finishing, and today digital print finishing delivers what customers only dreamed of yesterday.

The presses have become faster, deliver better quality and substrate flexibility – and the printing companies today invest more in digital presses and digital print finishing and workflow/automation. The possibilities are endless, with production of high-quality books, magazines, folded products and more now being the standard for modern digital printing companies.

The advantages of digital print finishing

Why should customers demand shorter print runs and personalization?
Digital print finishing combined with efficient digital presses can deliver on-demand. This is smart for a number of reasons. Publishers don’t have to bind capital in large print runs that CAN become out of date. Publishers also save money on warehousing, and with digital print finishing, publishers and printing companies even develop entirely new business models, not previously possible without the new and modern technology.

For example, publishers and printers work together where backorders and old titles are automatically ordered, produced, and shipped to the end-customer. When  Amazon books are printed on-demand, they are sometimes printed with regard to the facility being located closer to the customer’s delivery address, which will also has environmental advantages.

So on-demand gives customers, publishers, and printing companies new opportunities that simply weren’t available in the past.

Many may think that the digital press is the most critical technology in the production of short-runs. Really, though, the flexibility of the digital print finishing equipment may be more critical yet. Hunkeler has been one of the leading suppliers of digital print finishing equipment and has specialized in roll-based finishing. Roll-based finishing has many advantages. First and foremost, all significant digital print suppliers deliver roll-based printing systems, which means that Hunkeler can provide a finishing solution that matches your system. Roll-based digital print finishing also gives the customer other advantages. Paper delivered on rolls is often cheaper than sheets, and then there is the increased media flexibility. Roll-based finishing allows for using paper of all qualities, and with the ability to print on both thin and thick paper, it further increases the diversity of deliverables.

So why personalization?

It’s all about value. Do you remember the Coca-Cola campaign with names on cans and bottles? The reason for this was to not only create an exciting campaign but to sell more coca-cola. With digital print, today you can create printed products with a high level of personalization in both text and photos. Digital print finishing enables you to get your personalized product bound in a way that guarantees that the right content is bound into the right product.

Imagine you get a magazine and book personalized with the wrong content to you – it wouldn’t be acceptable. Therefore the collaboration between the digital print units and the digital print finishing units is essential.

Personalized products have a higher value … a known fact. An example is photo books. When you order a photo book, you expect it to be delivered fast,  in high quality and with the content you have created. Digital print finishing makes this happen – in conjunction with the digital press, and as necessary, the MIS, the Web-to-Print solution, and the entire workflow/automation setup.

How to get started with digital print finishing?

If you are a printing company considering digital print, reach out to Hunkeler or one of Hunkeler’s representatives throughout the world. Often printing companies start their digital print journey with the print unit – and rest assured, Hunkeler works with all suppliers. You can also choose to begin with Hunkeler, as Hunkeler can guide you with the finished application – which essentially is what you sell to your customers!

If you are an end-customer or publisher, the business opportunities with short runs, versions, personalization, etc., are great – and digital print finishing is the technology that will enable your business objectives. Hunkeler can guide you to printing companies who have already invested in the technology and are ready to help you.

Considerations

Regardless of your current role as a print buyer or printer, your ideas are surly focused on where you believe the future is. Do you think demand will move toward slower turnaround time, no personalization, and longer print runs? Most will immediately disregard this idea. Therefore, you have already answered the most critical question—namely, the future direction of demand. Consequently, you will want to look towards future oriented solutions – and with Hunkeler’s history in digital print finishing, you don’t have to look any further.

The digital print finishing equipment delivered by Hunkeler can provide almost every thinkable application – fast and in the highest quality.


About the author

Portrait Morten Reitloft

Morten B. Reitoft

Morten Reitoft is the CEO of INKISH and editor of 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.


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