If there were a mantra for postpress and finishing at On Demand this year, it would be “Just Do It.” Digital press speeds and print volumes are up, and so are digital print volumes. Many digital print shops have already bought second, even third, presses. As such, attendees will see a show floor brimming with highly automated, computer-driven stitchers, folders, trimmers, creasers, and bookletmakers, both inline and standalone, in a burgeoning variety of configurations that scream, “No more excuses!”

Even more fascinating will be the showings of connectivity and JDF designed to bring these solutions onto the floors of even small and mid-sized print shops. Several manufacturers are introducing “JDF for Dummies,” expecting printers to start bringing the automation and connectivity of their prepress and print production operations to their finishing areas.

To meet the needs for high-volume and transactional finishers, there has been an explosion of dedicated, inline equipment for nearly every iteration of digital press. Bookletmakers abound, and as demands on document integrity and security increase, exhibitors will be showing barcode readers that provide document integrity for multi-part books, booklets, and other documents, especially to combination workflows.

JDF for Dummies

If you see nothing else in the finishing area at On Demand, you should check out the current iteration of JDF workflows. While JDF itself is nothing new, of course, manufacturers are intently focused on making it more accessible.

Among those making a large investment in JDF is Duplo USA. Working with Objective Advantage Inc., a Houston-TX-based software developer, Duplo has developed a front-end software called Symbio that uses an intuitive interface to create JDF tickets for its DC-645 slitter/cutter/creaser. When asked what you need to know about JDF to run the system, Dominic Quennell, vice president, global marketing, Duplo Corp., Japan, says “Nothing.” The software walks the user through a simple interface to input the necessary information, then creates the JDF that sets up the equipment automatically. The DC-645, driven by Symbio, is being shown live at the Xerox booth.

Standard Finishing Systems is emphasizing what it boldly calls “JDF-ready off the shelf.” At the show, the company will be showcasing a wide range of products, including its HOF-30 high-speed sheet feeder with StitchLiner 5500 saddlestitcher, BQ-270 automated perfect binder, HT-30 automated three-side trimmer, and AFC-744 floor-model folder, all of which are JDF-ready, driven by its Horizon i2i JDF-driven digital workflow.

“Lots of people have been scared away by the complexity of JDF,” notes Mark Hunt, director of marketing for Standard Finishing Systems. “They think, ‘This is just for R. R. Donnelley. This isn’t for me.’ We are trying to say that isn’t so.”

Many Ways to Automation

Still, like many exhibitors at On Demand, Standard Finishing’s mantra is not JDF. It’s automation, with JDF being one of many ways to exercise or implement it. On the show floor, look for a wide range of equipment with user-friendly operator interfaces and icon-based touch screens, faster makeready, more configurations, and improved flexibility for meeting the needs of combination digital and offset workflows. More exhibitors will also be featuring modularity and upgrade paths.

Lasermax Roll Systems , for one, is emphasizing fast makeready and flexibility for combination workflows. Its Lasermax LX500, shown in the Books for Kids booth feeding MBO America B-21 8-page and 16-page folding units, has the capability to deliver offset-stacked book blocks to a converter running one-up, two-up, or three-up. The Duplo DC-645 slitter/cutter/creaser, shown in the Duplo, Nexpress, Xerox, and HP Indigo booths, uses up to six slitting wheels and a cross-knife and creaser to perform up to 15 cross-cuts and 150 creases across the sheet to prevent cracking of toner across the fold. Previewed at Graph Expo, the D6645 is now shipping. C. P. Bourg has its eye on variable print production, taking variable data print documents from Stralfors and finishing it on its Bourg BB3002 Automated Perfecting Binding System, which offers completely automated set-up for doing books of one.

On the high-speed and transactional sides, look for a burgeoning number of dedicated, inline machines for the most recent entries into the digital production market. Lasermax Roll Systems has just introduced versions of its DocuSheeter for the Xerox iGen3 and the Oce VarioPrint 5000, as well as more flexible configurations to meet what seems to be every nuance of production workflow.

If you are in the mood for a bookletmaker, Bowe Bell & Howell is showing its DemandWorks Booklet Maker System, Duplo is showing its System 5000 Booklet Maker, and Standard Finishing Systems is showing its Horizon ColorWorks 8000 Bookletmaker in-line to the Xerox DocuColor 8000/7000, just to name a few. For a 100% “hands-free” digital book production, you can visit the Books for Kids booth, where the digital printing capabilities of Océ will be paired with the finishing and post-processing from the likes of Lasermax Roll Systems, MBO America, and Muller Martini Corp.

If you are need document integrity, check out barcode reading systems like JETVision advanced reading system from Bowe Bell & Howell, the DigiFinisher from MBO America, or Duplo’s System 5000 Booklet Maker , among others.

Call in the Applications Specialist

There will certainly be a lot to see. Cutting, trimming, folding, creasing, perfect binding, inline and offline; pre- and post-processing for continuous-feed engines, dedicated equipment, non-dedicated equipment, JDF-driven, non-JDF-driven, bookletmakers, thermal tape binding. In fact, the variety of solutions has burgeoned to such an extent that bindery suppliers have become more application specialists than salesmen. The goal is to identify the end product and work backward with the customer to envision a workflow to go around it.

“Ultimately, we have to find out what will work best for the customer," concludes Hunt of Standard Finishing Systems. "Do they need JDF now? Will they need it next year? Do they want to go inline? Offline? Will they be handling personalization and versioning? Or will it all be static? Are they running both conventional offset and digital? Do they need highly skilled operators or lower skilled? Do they need to scrub labor time from the cost equation, or is integrity more important? Looking for the customer’s pain point is a critical part of the whole evaluation. It’s not just, ‘Can I offer you Here, buy a folder?’ anymore."