I was invited by Kodak to attend an open house event at Offset Paperback Manufacturing in Scranton, PA last week. A quick flight to Philly then the aviation equivalent of skipping rocks got me to the beautiful Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.
We were greeted at the event hotel to 3 morning presentations. Kodak's Bill Schweinfurth would present an overview on digital printing solutions while Randy Vandagriff would follow with a presentation on bringing digital from concept to reality. The focus, of course, was on the Prosper line of presses - the 1000 and 5000XL. Both of these were up and running at OPM and producing digital books and we'd get to see them later that afternoon.
The morning was kicked off by Mitch Weiss, who is Vice President of Marketing at arvato. OPM makes up part of the arvato print division, which is part of the transnational media corporation Bertelsmann AG. Mitch gave a great overview of the company and their goals with digital book printing. They are still printing a great majority (>90%) of books with traditional offset presses on larger runs, but several key drivers are causing them to invest in digital technology - reducing costs, improving efficiencies, reducing waste are among them. Mitch views the new digital press technology as a virtual warehouse, with the ability to store and print books relative to actual demand rather than predicted.
The OPM facility we visited was running a Kodak Prosper 1000 as well as a Prosper 500oXL. The finishing system is a Muller Martini system that includes automated trimming and binding with very little manual intervention required. OPM is currently producing 5-6,000 books per shift. A typical book is 350-400 pages.
Frank Romano noted in a recent video that he thinks digital printing - and digital book printing in particular - is going to grow faster than most think it will grow. OPM appears to investing in this area as a response to the market in order to offer the type of book printing that is going to continue to be in demand. They are seeing opportunities in healthcare, education, and journal publications.
WhatTheyThink contributor David Zwang was also at the event and I was able to shoot a quick video of his thoughts while on site: