Digital Paperback Production Created with Xeikon and Muller Martini
Monday, April 22, 2002
April 22, 2002 - The profitable production of digitally printed books - on demand - has become a reality, thanks to the creation of a multi-tasking workflow that combines a Xeikon press and a Muller Martini perfect binding machine. Development of the digital paperback production line was detailed in a special presentation delivered at BookTech 2002 in New York last month by Andy Fetherman, Manager of Muller Martini Corp.’s Digital Finishing Division and Alain Flament, Director, B/W Business Development at Xeikon. (An update of the presentation is scheduled for April 25th at 2 PM at the On Demand Exposition and Conference, which takes place at the Javits Center.) Fetherman and Flament described a system that could create up to 1,000 quality paperbacks per hour. But more significant is the fact that the digital workflow can produce books economically on demand at that speed, handling the shortest runs or the most exacting customization requirements, without adding time to the production process. "There is no direct comparison between digital printing costs and offset printing per book," Flament explained. "Printing and finishing accounts for only 10% of the cost of a book. The other 90% is process costs, such as warehousing, distribution and inventory obsolescence. An efficient digital book production line will drive those costs down." Fetherman noted that by lowering process costs, digital book production will make it easier for publishers to be profitable on more titles. "A digital book production line will allow publishers to print precisely how many books they need over a set sales period, be it a month, a week or even a day," he said. "Contrast that to conventional book production where tens of thousands of copies of a title are printed prior to the book’s release date. They sit in expensive warehouse space waiting to be sold throughout the title’s lifetime. Then they have to be liquidated when the book is no longer popular. With digital printing, you print only as many as you need for each sales period, then you adjust the quantity the next time you need more. This greatly reduces the inventory storage requirements and limits the excess production that is thrown away." Flament and Fetherman, presented a long list of other advantages the digital process has over conventional offset book production. They include: - Minimum press makeready - No storage of delicate plates or films - Job set up instantly, recalled from archive - No plate changes for each printed section - No need for extra production - Reduced labor requirements - No work-in-progress inefficiencies - Lower transportation and warehousing costs Book quality was also addressed by the Xeikon/Muller Martini presenters. The Xeikon black and white VaryPress T800 prints at a resolution of 480 dots per inch (dpi), while the Xeikon DMP8000 can print at 600 dpi. Both digital presses use cold flash fusing to further enhance quality. Meanwhile, Xeikon’s digital color presses also deliver 600 dpi quality. "Print quality is no longer an issue," said Flament. "It’s a given. We can go from roll to books in a matter of minutes, changing titles on the fly, and the resulting books are indistinguishable from conventionally printed books." Fetherman noted that an equally important aspect of the quality look and feel of digitally produced books can be found in the way they are bound. "You can’t market a paperback that looks like it was produced on an office collator," he declared, noting that several manufacturing partners provided components for the system. Muller Martini’s part of the solution is the AmigoDigital, a short-run automated perfect binding system that is based on the company’s popular AmigoPlus model. "The major advancement here is that AmigoDigital is equipped to plug into a digital printing system and produce inline," he said. "We also offer a near-line version that can be fed by several presses." To describe the genesis of a quality paperbound book, Fetherman gave the audience a virtual tour of the inside of the AmigoDigital. He emphasized the importance of proper milling, spine preparation, and separate spine and side gluing to produce a durable book. "The AmigoDigital completes these steps using the same high quality techniques our high volume perfect binders employ," he pointed out. "Its cover pressing station also is modeled after our big systems. So the quality of our digital book is equivalent to conventionally printed paperbacks. That means the on demand paperback is now a commercial reality." A PowerPoint presentation of the Flament/Fetherman BookTech presentation can be obtained by calling Muller Martini at 1 888 2 MULLER.