The traffic on the show floor was moderate on Saturday afternoon, although some booths were busy. Binding and finishing vendors reported that, while some customers were here to buy, most were shopping. All were anticipating higher levels of traffic on Monday and Tuesday, hoping that printers are simply preferring to stay home over the weekend and will come out in force during the early part of next week.

In all, it was a good afternoon to poke around and ask questions about the finishing environment for digital and print-on-demand. Because of the huge volume of exhibitors at Print, I asked vendors to pick one product they wanted to showcase for the POD market.

One booth that was consistently busy was U. S. Paper Counters. In the 20 minutes I was in and out of the booth, two printers had asked for quotes. For lower volume operations, the company was showing its Shooter-II, which provides insertion at speeds up to three tabs per second, along with count erase, backlit LCD display, and one-button programming. For higher volumes, its Count-Wise I offers speeds up to 2,500 ppm and tabbing from three to 9999; and can be secured on a table or comes on a specially designed base cabinet.

Felins USA was showing its Loop-Plus Tabletop Strapping Machine. Its claim to fame is that the machine makes its own loops of strap, then draws them tight and welds them. The plastic tab is fully adjustable, so the customer can remove the loop easily. The product is designed for volumes of 1,000 – 1,200 per day, and is the only tabletop machine that throws its own loop and is adjustable in size.

Of course, the term “print on-demand” encompasses a wide variety of applications and technologies. Offset can be POD, and so can high-volume, high-speed black-and-white digital printing.

In these higher volume categories, Kluge was showing its 9-footOmniFold Automatic Folder/Gluer, which offers 50% more converting space over its 6-foot model. The main advantage of this machine is that it is timing-belt-driven, rather than chain-driven, so that it is quiet and smooth and requires little to no maintenance over systems driven with chain drives or undersized belts.

On the way in to the show, I’d talked with a screen printer getting into variable data printing who was looking to invest in in-house laminating for producing menus. So I stopped into the Protect-All booth to see its wares. Beyond laminating equipment, Protect-All is showing synthetic papers, including one that kills germs on contact. Steven Nimz, president of Protect-all, also told me about an agreement the company has with Minuteman Press—a pilot program to supply synthetic paper and a Pocket Rocket small thermal laminating machines, along with trial kits of thermal laminating film, to approximately one dozen of its 6,000 franchise locations. The experiment grows out of the use of digital print for menus, tags, POP materials, and similar applications.

For customers asking for same-day lamination of digital prints, Protect-All is also showing its SureGrip lamination solution, which offers superior adhesion to digital prints where fuser oils or other toner additives might cause problems.

One of the Pocket Rocket’s time-saving features is the ability of the operator to realign the product after 90-degree truth by dropping in the side guide and marble bar, then skewing a bearing bed drive left or right to guide the sheet into the register. This helps when converting right angle jobs, such as three-sided, reinforced pocket folders or folders with a vertical and horizontal pocket in one pass.

At the Spartanics booth, the hot product was the M-500 Decorated Material Punching & Die Cutting System. What is unique about this system is its optical sensors. In traditional die cutting operations, the machines use a clamshell press to hold the sheets in place. In the digital environment, however, the registration can shift slightly from sheet to sheet, so the image is not always in the same place within the die-cut. With its optical sensors, however, the M-500 can adjust for these subtle shifts the image is always properly located. After passing through the punch press, the card delivery system accumulates the cards, shingles them, and conveys them for packaging without stopping the system.

One of the rapidly growing VDP applications we are seeing these days is medical and other identification cards. This workflow was on display at the Ga-Vehren Engineering booth, where it paired its Ga-Vehren Sheet Finishing line with its UV drop-on-demand printing and data management from CPST. This system produces one-pass card encoding, four-color inkjet personalization, affixing, folding, and inserting.

Jeff Peters, president of Ga-Vehren, says this is one of the applications a lot of printers — both Ga-Vehren’s existing customers and its prospects — are talking about when they visit his booth.

Swigraph was anxious to talk about its Snappy Electronic Cutter for double-loop binding materials, as well as its full line of fully automated cutters. The Snappy is fully automatic and sensor-controlled, and provides users with a new cut-length every time the links are taken from the delivery rail. One to 99 loops of all pitches can be digitally preset for cutting. A counter with auto-memory shows the user the number of lengths already cut for the job at hand. The machine cuts all pitches and all diameters from 3/16” to 1”.

This is just a sampling of the many vendors and their equipment being shown at Print 05, and I will continue to report on booth gems as the show continues.