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In Parting Snapshots, the Fascinating Diversity of On Demand

Three closing vignettes from our On Demand notebooks give further indication of the broad range of products to be seen at this fascinating trade expo,

By Patrick Henry
Published: May 25, 2006

Three closing vignettes from our On Demand notebooks give further indication of the broad range of products to be seen at this fascinating trade expo, which manages to be tightly specific yet highly diversified at the same time. By all accounts, On Demand 2006 was a solid success, and we wish the event more of the same when it holds court in the new Boston Convention & Exhibit Center from April 16-19 next year. Here then is what was on offer this year from a paper company, one of 16 paper vendors displaying wares at this output-focused show; a maker of high-speed digital web presses with a difference; and, from the AIIM side of the hall, a developer of digital preservation technologies for rare books and other precious documents too old and frail to stand up to perusal in anything but digital form.

Mohawk Fine Papers used On Demand as the occasion to relaunch the Strathmore brand, a line of fine writing papers that it acquired last year. Laura Shore, Mohawk's senior vice president-communications, described Strathmore as "the leading traditional corporate identity sheet"—a paper with a venerable reputation and a perennial appeal to designers of letterhead and other corporate identity materials. However, noted Ms. Shore, Strathmore's longtime user base is aging, and the line's popularity among younger designers has been limited. This would change, she said, with a marketing campaign to broaden Strathmore's definition beyond that of an august corporate paper and to make it just as appealing to "smaller, more entrepreneurial companies."

As a part of its makeover, Strathmore has been expanded with new weights, colors, and finishes, all of which are sampled in a new swatchbook available from Mohawk. A new ream wrap reproduces the iconic Strathmore thistle logo photographically in four colors. A marketing tagline, "manufactured with wind power," is intended to raise the product's profile among environmentally progressive customers. The slogan refers to a program whereby Mohawk purchases renewable energy credits from suppliers that develop wind farms for generating electricity. Using these credits, Mohawk has been able to replace an average of about 35% of conventionally generated electricity for its mills in New York and Ohio with wind power. According to Ms. Shore, the replacement can be allocated per pound of paper to quantify the benefit for conservation-minded users of Mohawk products.

The Strathmore expansion includes the addition of Strathmore Writing Digital and Strathmore Script Digital, optimized for imaging in digital copiers and presses. Ms. Shore said the digital papers feature a surface treatment, i-Tone, that makes the stock "a magnet for toner," assuring high-quality results in mixed production environments where more than one method of digital output is in use. i-Tone, an alternative to the Sapphire process for papers in HP-Indigo presses, is said to increase the toner affinity of textured surfaces to a degree that eliminates "valleys" and other problems of toner transfer and adhesion in digital output. The Strathmore Digital portfolio offers i-Tone treated papers and envelopes for HP-Indigo digital equipment as well as for the NexPress 2100 and Xerox DocuColor iGen3 digital production presses.

Mohawk added another digital paper, Mohawk Color Copy Ultra Gloss, to its Color Copy product line. The cast-coated one-side high gloss paper is described by Mohawk as the smoothest and glossiest color copy paper on the market thanks to a mirror-like finish offering more reflectivity than other high-gloss papers. The white sheet is available in 8-, 10-, and 12-pt. weights and in 8.5 x 11", 17 x 11", and 18 x 12" sizes.

Delphax Technologies is unique among digital press manufacturers in building its print engines around electron-beam imaging, a toner-based method that it describes as faster, simpler, and more economical than competitive technologies. The company specializes in high-speed, single-pass, simplex or duplex monochrome web presses for book manufacturers, legal/financial publishers, direct mailers, large in-plants, commercial printers, and other high-volume environments. Fully integrated, inline production with finishing equipment from postpress partners is another hallmark of Delphax, exhibiting for the first time in Philadelphia with On Demand.

The centerpiece of its presentation was a complete printing and finishing line producing saddle-stitched and cold-glue bound booklets imaged at 450 fpm on a Delphax CR2000 digital web press, billed by the company the world's fastest toner-based printing system. At 450 fpm, the 600 x 600 dpi printer can output 3,600 6 x 9" pages imposed three-up on a 19.75" pin-fed or standard roll. Two- and one-up impositions in larger page sizes print yield correspondingly fewer pages per minute at 450 fpm. Early next year, Delphax plans to release a 500 fpm upgrade to the CR2000, a press that will be marketed as the CR2200. The two other models in the CR series, the CR1300 and the CR900, will become the CR1500 and the CR1000 with respective speed increases from 300 fpm to 350 fpm and 206 fpm to 230 fpm.

The CR2000 at On Demand was fitted with video cameras for continuous quality-control inspection on both sides of the printed web. The absence of turn bars in the path of the web makes for tight front-to-back registration, according to Delphax. The press, which optionally can be equipped for roll splicing, anchored a production line also consisting of a Hunkeler CS4-2 cutter and an IBIS Smart-binder SB-3. The Hunkeler cutter, operating inline with the CR2000, cut the web into sheets at full press speed. The IBIS binder folded printed signatures, inserted preprinted covers, collected and bound individual booklets, and trimmed them into finished products—some saddle stitched, others using cold adhesive.

The line's principal output was another publication produced under Delphax's Books for Schools program, whereby the company donates books manufactured at trade shows to the host cities' public education systems. In Philadelphia, the contribution was Ready…Set…Prepare! A Disaster Preparedness Activity Book, a 40-page guide for teaching children about the importance of readiness for natural disasters. Running the job at up 45 books per minute—one every 1.33 seconds—Delphax aimed to print and donate about 15,000 booklets through the local American Red Cross organization.

To highlight the advantages of the tight-web design of CR series presses—a feature that enables the machines to maintain constant roll tension the way a lithographic press maintains tension on the web—Delphax also demonstrated what it said was digital booklet production on the lightest-weight paper ever attempted in a public forum. This demo showed the printing and binding of various booklets inline on 35 lb. offset paper at speeds up to 450 fpm. Gregg Hart, Delphax sales manager for North America, said that some CR2000 customers were running stocks as light as 27 lb. recycled for telephone bills, proxy statements, and other documents favoring lightweight stocks.

i2S, a French company, has been a developer of industrial machine vision technologies for more than 25 years. About 10 years ago, it branched into the application that would bring it to AIIM/On Demand: scanning solutions for old bound books and other documents that would be impractical or impossible to digitize on graphic arts scanners. Such documents typically have delicate bindings, pages that cannot tolerate much light or heat, or other aspects that make them too fragile for conventional image capture. Examples include historic registers of births, deaths and marriages; old bank records and stock certificates; vintage newspaper collections and photo libraries; rare illuminated books; and Daguerreotype glass plates.

For university libraries, museums, and other institutions that want to archive such items in digital formats that preserve the appearance and legibility of the originals, the DigiBook division of i2S makes a line of flatbed scanning stations with stationary or moving digital camera heads that can read bound or flat documents in a few seconds to roughly half a minute, depending upon size. Input resolutions range from 200 dpi to 800 dpi, and some models can scan in RGB as well as grayscale.

The scans, which can be done in ambient light, yield exact visual replicas of the book spread or flat sheet. Some DigiBook models have built-in color monitors on which scanned page images can be displayed. Books are gently supported on adjustable cradles that protect their bindings, and no glass touches the original during scanning. Files can be recorded as uncompressed TIFF, TIFF LZW, JPEG, PNG, or BMP; OCR and PDF conversion are available as post-processing steps.

After capture, DigiBook's Book Restorer image restoration software can be used to undo some of the visual degradation that time inevitably inflicts upon aging hard copy in any form. The software can lighten, sharpen, color correct, de-speckle, crop, and resize. It can reduce distortion by flattening page curvature, and it even has a feature for erasing images of fingers inadvertently scanned while their owner held the book open during digitization.

David Dassie, regional sales manager for DigiBook, said that university libraries and other repositories of archival printed matter like scanning because it lets them "diffuse" the contents of rare works while minimizing the amount of handling they are subjected to. He said that about 300 DigiBook scanners have been installed in libraries and other document centers around the world. U.S. customers include the Library of Congress and the university libraries at Temple, Stanford, Tufts, UCLA, Miami, Virginia, and Texas A&M.

Patrick Henry, Executive Editor for WhatTheyThink.com is also the director of Liberty or Death Communications, a consultancy specializing in research, education, promotional, and editorial support services for the printing and publishing industries.

Patrick Henry is available for speaking engagements and consulting projects. To get more information contact us here.

Please offer your feedback to Patrick. He can be reached at patrick.henry@whattheythink.com.

 

 

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