Let’s Talk Digital Post-Processing

By on April 13th, 2012

It’s been interesting to stir up conversation here and on other discussion boards about the current status of toner versus offset print. My first post on the topic on Digital Nirvana, about the visual differences between the two, generated a lot of responses. Lots of people wanted to chime in on that one. The second post, on the remaining design limitations of digital presses, didn’t generate comments at all. (What’s up with that?) So let’s try again.

Let’s look at bindery and post-processing.

Here are three of the remaining issues I still hanging “out there” as they impact marketers directly. Please chime in and let me know what you’re still seeing.

1. Toner is not as inherently “tough” as offset ink, so documents printed with toner may be more likely to scuff or mark during post-processing. In these cases, the value of the larger application needs to be weighed against the impact of any minimal marking that might occur.

2. Cracking across the fold can still be an issue in some digitally printed applications, especially when the toner coverage is extremely heavy. While this can be vastly minimized or eliminated through the use of optimized post-processing steps, such as running the job through specialized creasers before folding, the issue itself is still rumbling around.

(Question: Do you see clients requiring heavy post-processing predisposed to looking into working with printers with digital presses that use polymerized toner?)

3. Issues with insertion, collation, and scoring, which are handled differently on digital presses than offset presses. This continues to impact  the cost-effectiveness and productivity of projects such as books, catalogs, and newsletters.

These are the three I still consistently hear people talking about. What’s your experience?

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4 Responses to “Let’s Talk Digital Post-Processing”

  1. michael jahn Says:

    Many of our PressWise customers offer all sorts of finishing to digital products they produce – roller coating, corner rounding, score/fold, die cutting, UV Coating – almost never hear a peep about issues with HP Indigos.

  2. Curtis Says:

    Heidi,

    I agree, digital finishing equipment needs to have a “soft hand”. Most high-speed finishing equipment is designed for durable inks, not digital. Here are two other concerns I see digital printers may have:

    1. Quality performance. The days of “easy” static jobs with 3% waste are gone. Every variable digital piece must stay in order and is counted. Finishing equipment needs to run flawlessly. Many production hours are lost recreating damaged records and inserting them back into the finishing stream.

    2. Quick changeover and flexibility. The current market of digital printing is short-run. Equipment which can change as fast as the digital press will be a winner.

  3. Deirdre @ VITS Says:

    Toners, inks and the like will be a challenge that those suppliers will have to find a solution for, and they will.

    As for handling it post press, we are unveiling a variable servo line of finishing equipment, with nominal make-ready (mere touch of a screen) to handle digital print inline and offline.

    We’ve been a trusted name for high-speed commercial work worldwide. Recent years have seen us attaining what was previously unachievable in the packaging and pharmaceutical markets. Now we will do the same for the digital.

    It will be an interesting DRUPA. I am looking forward to seeing who is saying what they can do what, vs. who can do what they say. Fortunately VITS International is in a good position to perform.

  4. Roger Says:

    Heidi,
    All valid points! I think these are all growing pains in the industry which will be solved in the near future. When the offset world moved from solvent inks to the first soy inks we had to re-learn and adapt current processes. Steele rule dies moved to magnetic dies and new technologies had to be improved. Any new technology drives adaptations, improvement and refining. Digital will be the driving print method so it’s not a matter of “if” these issues will be solved, but rather “when” and by whom?