Finishing On Demand
In all the hoopla over print-on-demand, little attention is given to the bindery demands that help realize on-demand's potential.
By Marie Ranoia Alonso
Obviously, an on-demand printer that relies on digital printing technology must be able to assure customers that deadline-sensitive print jobs will be produced on time. After all, there's little advantage to digital color output if a job cannot be finished quickly.
As a result, in-house finishing capabilities are necessary for an on-demand printing operation, which must decide if in-line or off-line finishing, or more commonly a combination of the two, will bolster its digital printing effort with enough postpress power. The benefits of in-line finishing include high set integrity, as well as a streamlined production path.
On the other hand, off-line finishing allows a digital output device to print at full-rated speeds, as finishing is done several feet away from point of output.
Whether in-line or off-line, the need to have automated finishing capabilities in the on-demand printing environment is critical. A fully functioning in-house bindery dedicated to on-demand output is the necessary final link in a production cycle that incudes all the glamour of variable data printing and customized, digital color output.
"As digital printing enters the mainstream of publication and commercial printing, many of the operational paradigms of finishing need to be reexamined both by print providers and equipment vendors," contends Mark Fleming, president of Naperville, IL-based Strategies on Demand, a marketing, financial and operations consulting firm catering to digital print providers.
Fleming suggests that existing on-demand printers—and those looking to expand their capabilities portfolio by investing in a digital color press—consider the following facts of life for finishing in an on-demand environment.
• Finishing is an integral component of the on-demand production and distribution service. This isn't a capability that can be outsourced or left to the client.