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Books, CTP and Recognizing Lifetimes in Print at GOA

Press release from the issuing company

By Noel Ward, Executive Editor, On Demand Journal; Managing Editor, WhatTheyThink.com February 18, 2005 -- Digital book production has been a mainstay at printing shows for several years but is usually limited to high-speed production of books in limited quantities. The major print engine and finishing equipment vendors have usually made a point of having at least some highly automated book production operation in their booths, some even giving the books away to local school systems. But these digital versions of traditional book manufacturing processes are only one aspect of how digital printing enables book production. Taking up a corner of the floor at GOA was the On Demand Bookmaking Factory. Instead of printing hundreds of copies of one or two titles, the print runs here were much smaller, and were personalized to the recipient. That sounds like something for a terribly small audience but that's exactly the point. Digital printing, especially using variable data, enables production of personalized or versioned books and a further scaling down of the manufacturing process. A scaling down that can be a good fit in a small print shop. In the Factory, one example was a personalized real estate guide such as one that might be assembled for people selling or buying an upscale home. A variety of boilerplate information was used, along with much more customized information tailored to the needs of the buyer or seller. The pages were all in color, produced on a HP laser printer. (Other samples were printed on a HP monochrome device.) The pages were then gathered into book blocks and placed in a manually operated table-top rotary binder that prepares the pages for gluing, applies glue, and attaches a cover; a process that takes maybe a minute per book. Best of all, the covers could be perfect or case bound. The rotary binder comes from Fastbind in Finland and is distributed in North America by Exact-Bind and in Latin America by Ondesys. Fastbind also provides the case bound cover system that enables a laminated laser-printed sheet to be applied to the cover, which is then wrapped around a book block. The covers used at GOA were full color and were laminated. The process included a point at which attendees could enter their name into the system which resulted in a personalized cover. No biggie, right? Well, think about what you can do. How about the realtor selling the upscale home. Personalized marketing materials can make a difference there. Another example in the Exact-Bind booth was a yearbook from a high school that had only 100-odd students per class. The kids all wanted a yearbook, and one that would last like the memoir that it is. Using this system in a small print shop, the books were produced using both color and mono laser printers and case-bound. The students paid about $30 per book, compared to the $65-plus price tag demanded by a year-book company. Including all printing, laminating and binding, the books only cost about $15 to produce. And they were personalized, too. The bindery system, including trimmer, laminator, binder, and folder costs about $13,000. Operation is clean, easy and requires only moderate skill to operate. One student seeing the process observed, "Gee, even an adult can do it!" CTP and DI printing continue to grow At this show last year I reported that CTP was alive and well under the tropical sun because it gives printers the ability to use a largely digital workflow up to the point where the plate is made. Then the plate is hung on a long-since-paid-for offset press and helps keep the press productive and the printer profitable. Presstek's chemistry-free 2-up and 4-up CTP systems have been a big part of this trend, augmented by the company's DI presses which play into the needs of printers in the Latin American market as they begin to infuse digital technology into their operations. CTP and DI today, digital presses tomorrow. According to Brian Wolfenden, marketing communications manager at Presstek, the company's acquisition of AB Dick in 2004 has expanded its presence in Latin America. "The Latin America market consists of many small commercial printers, the majority of which are still using conventional platemaking processes. Presstek’s and AB Dick’s product portfolio is designed to bring cost effective digital solutions to this segment. We also believe our environmental message plays well in many of these countries. We believe our strong position in helping smaller printers make the transition from analog to digital is an important differentiator for Presstek." Short run printing is extremely important in Latin America. However, Presstek does not believe variable data growth will be as rapid as it will be in North America, largely due to the cultural and infrastructure differences found in these countries. "The primary differentiator between toner-based digital and offset processes--the ability to produce variable data--is less important in those countries," says Wolfenden. "This means the DI press offers a logical upgrade path for printers wishing to move from two-color offset to high-quality four-color offset." Not far away on the show floor, Creo, just days after the announcement of its acquisition by Kodak, was on hand to demonstrate Prinergy Evo, a newly developed workflow system that delivers PDF processing performance with a low cost of ownership. Evo is one of the choices available in the Creo Complete packages that feature a family of proven solutions including a thermal CTP imaging device, prepress workflow system, thermal plates, proofer, service and support. Systems like this are a great choice for printers looking for optimal production solutions because the complete system is engineered to work together and deliver reliable, predictable results. Just what small print shops need, no matter where in the world they do business. Recognizing Leadership at the GALA Awards GOA is always the venue for recognizing those in the North American and Latin American printing industry. The GALA (Graphic Arts Leaders of the Americas) award is presented jointly each year by PIA affiliates in the United States and Confederación Latinoamericana de la Industria Gráfica (CONLATINGRAF), symbolizing not only industry excellence but also the linking of the Americas and two major industry associations. This year, Mário César de Camargo, president of the Brazilian Association of the Graphical Industry (Abigraf), and Warren Wilkins, President of Webcom Limited, have been named Graphic Arts Leaders of the Americas for South and North America for 2005. Both men have raised the bar on leadership in areas of management, technology, business and quality, in addition to making contributions to the graphic arts industry, and their communities. And that's GOA 2005 from my end. There was plenty more to see of course, with over 400 vendors occupying much of the 500,000 square foot convention center. But these past stories at least give you a glimpse of this growing, dynamic and international show. The next show is On Demand, coming at us in May from the Philadelphia Convention Center. The rest of the WTT show team and I will be there to fill you in on all that's going on. But between then and now there are a few other events you'll be hearing about.