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May 1, 2005 12:00 AM


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Postpress

Fifteen years ago, print on demand was a novelty. Even simple corner or side stapling on monochrome documents seemed miraculous. Today, users routinely make booklets, punch documents and create tape- and perfect-bound books inline. Several digital press vendors also have recently introduced inline or nearline coating options to protect output against flaking, scuffing and other mail stream maladies. Here’s a sneak preview of some inline and related developments that will be shown at the OnDemand Show (www.aiimondemand.com) this month.

Migrating finishing modules
The close integration of Xerox’s output engines with leading finishing vendors’s equipment goes back to the DocuTech’s debut in the early 1990s. For the past 16 years, Xerox has conducted an annual two-day partner meeting at its Rochester, NY, lab to share its strategy, preview new products and set finishing priorities. Separate meetings are then scheduled with individual partners.

Xerox and its partners face a dual-edged finishing challenge—inline equipment must work with current printer models and, if possible, the next generation of each device. "It’s very important that customers can migrate finishing modules to other printers," explains Jerry Sturnick, Xerox’s manager of feeding and finishing. "If DocuTech users want to upgrade to Nuvera, they don’t want to scrap [an existing] bookletmaker because it runs at a different speed or has a different registration."

Working with CP Bourg, Xerox developed a finishing transport module (FTM) to bridge the gap between the edge-registered DocuTech and the center-registered Nuvera. "FTM provides the rotation in applications such as turning letter-size documents into statement-size signature booklets," says Sturnick. "You want an 11-inch width crossways for full printer productivity, but when you get to the bookletmaker, you want to feed the short edge because of the way the document will be folded. FTM does that rotation-it also moves from the Nuvera’s center rotation to the DocuTech’s edge rotation. It essentially makes a Nuvera look exactly like a DocuTech."

At OnDemand, Bourg will show Nuvera with its Book Factory for the first time.

Faster bookletmakers with more scoring
Xerox’s DocuColor 2045, 2060 and 6060 are all compatible with Standard Horizon’s ColorWorks 2000 bookletmaker. OnDemand will mark the debut of a faster bookletmaker, the ColorWorks 8000, for the 6060 as well as the 80-ppm DocuColor 8000.

Mark Hunt, director of marketing, Standard Finishing, says that the ColorWorks 8000 builds on the strengths of the 21⁄2-year-old ColorWorks 2000. "ColorWorks 2000 was designed exclusively for the digital color environment," he notes. "It provides head and foot trimming for edge-to-edge color as well as integrated scoring."

ColorWorks 8000 lets users make multiple scores on individual sheets, expanding the range of potential applications. "It lets you create multipanel brochures or mailers," explains Hunt. "You can’t fold them [inline], but you can lay score lines down."

Xerox also is expanding bookletmaking options for the iGEN3. "We have been showing the Plockmatic SquareFold bookletmaker with the DocuTech and Nuvera, but for color, we want to make that a full bleed bookletmaker," reports Sturnick. "We’re working on a full bleed trim module that goes in front of the SquareFold for completely finished, full-bleed signature booklets."

Moving data as well as paper
Xerox is working with a variety of partners to automate the transfer of job data—even if the finishing component isn’t inline with the printer. "It’s sort of like digitizing an offline device," explains Sturnick. "A nearline finishing device can be physically separate from the printer, but you’re still keeping all the integrity, automation and job knowledge."

One such nearline example at OnDemand will include a Duplo DSF-2000/SCC/System 5000 bookletmaker and iGEN3. "The offline bookletmaker will be taking output from the iGEN3 and producing full-bleed booklets," says Sturnick. "But the bookletmaker has a finishing controller on it, so we can actually start doing data communication when integrated as part of Xerox’s FreeFlow brand workflow solution."

Another demonstration will feature a nearline Duplo DC- 645, which will read barcodes, make up to five trims and cut jobs. "You can take a sheet, create full-bleed output and crease it," explains Sturnick. "It’s all digitally controlled by the 645, which is reading barcodes to reregister the sheet."

Si Nguyen, Duplo product marketing manager, says that the Duplo slitter/cutter/creaser (SCC) can be programmed for automatic trimming to convert a 14 x 20-inch sheet into an 11 x 17-inch finished product. "The SCC will automatically cut the bleed off and slit and crease the sheet prior to bookletmaking, or just crease it if the job will be folded."

Visitors to Drupa 2004 saw another interesting nearline development: StackPort, a group effort from GBC Corp., Xerox, CP Bourg and Duplo. Its cart provides a convenient way for operators to transfer jobs from print engines to near-line and off-line binding and finishing equipment. The StackPort docks to the printing system—to move a job to an offline finishing device, the operator just slides the cart away from the printer. Because the operator isn’t handling the paper, there’s no chance to drop stacks—pages remain in correct order.

According to Sturnick, StackPort was conceived by GBC as part of its FusionPunch development. When GBC showed it to Sturnick, he suggested the same transport module would work well for bookletmakers and other applications. "We already had Bourg stackers that crossed many of our product lines," recalls Sturnick. "We said, ‘Why not get Bourg to implement this feature, rather than ask our customers to change devices?’"

Currently, the StackPort consortium is productizing it for use with Xerox’s stackers as well as the feeders to near-line solutions offered by Bourg, Duplo and GBC. Eventually, StackPort will be available for all Xerox partners.

Future StackPort enhancements reportedly will include support for JDF workflow integration with offline and nearline binding equipment.



Jerry Sturnick, Xerox’s manager of feeding and finishing, says the wealth of onsite printing and finishing equipment and expertise at the company’s Rochester, NY, finishing lab is an invaluable resource. Xerox’s management agrees. After visiting Sturnick’s lab several year ago, Gil Hatch, the late president of Xerox’s Production Systems Group, was so impressed he began planning a production proving ground based on the lab’s "all-under-one-roof" concept.

Hatch envisioned a permanent digital product showcase where customers could access Xerox’s R&D, engineering, manufacturing and marketing experts. Xerox named the resulting multimillion-dollar, 100,000-sq.-ft. facility in his honor. In addition to the finishing technology lab, the recently opened Gil Hatch Center for Customer Innovation features a full selection of hardware, software and media, and employs more than 60 Xerox experts onsite.

Putting copiers on Air Force One
Xerox’s finishing lab also is home to Customized Application Services, experts who handle requests that range from putting copiers on Air Force One to making modifications such as angled consoles for wheelchair-bound operators and "talking" machines for the visually impaired. "We also do shipboard equipment mounting for Navy ships and aircraft carriers," relates Sturnick. "There typically are more copiers than planes on aircraft carriers."



Philly kids will get 10,000 books
At OnDemand (May 17-19, Philadelphia), five vendors will participate in a printing and binding demonstration that will produce up to 10,000 books to be donated to Philadelphia-area schoolchildren. Weyerhaeuser, Océ, Lasermax Roll Systems, MBO America and Muller Martini will join forces to produce copies of "War of the Worlds," "The Odyssey" and "Frankenstein."

Bob Vandenboom, Delphax’s (Minnetonka, MN) worldwide marketing director, came up with the demonstration/donation concept for OnDemand 2003 and it has continued with various partners ever since. Delphax is sitting this one out—visitors will see an Océ engine at the heart of the system. Thanks to MBO and Palamides, this also is the first time the line will feature full-page signatures rather than cut sheets.

Putting it together
Here’s what visitors to "Books for Kids" Booth 3801 will see from each partner:
Weyerhaeuser | Books will be printed on Lynx Digital Opaque paper engineered for digital printing and in-line finishing applications.

Océ | The bodies of the books will be printed on an Océ VarioStream 7650 Twin continuous-feed production printing system operating at 1,300 ppm. Covers for the books are being produced on the Océ CPS900 production color printing system.

Lasermax Roll Systems | The Lasermax Roll Systems LX500 Series cutter will convert the continuous printed web to individual sheets at a rate of up to 450 fpm.

MBO America | Each sheet will be folded into a 12-page signature using MBO’s B21 8- and 16-page folding units, then stacked in the Palamides alpha500 stacker for delivery to the conveyor/buffer system.

Muller Martini Corp. | The SigmaBinder will bind each book at speeds up to 1,000 fully variable books per hour. The book is then cooled in the SigmaTower and trimmed by the Esprit three-knife trimmer.



Duplo achieves interface milestone
Many of the leading digital printing equipment vendors—including a core team from Duplo, Hunkeler, IBM, Océ, Stralfors and Xerox—have joined forces to develop an open interface standard for all the hardware components in the digital print process.

The universal printer pre- and post-processing interface (UP3I) standard helps users integrate and control all prepress, press and postpress system data.

Functions such as automatic job setup and synchronization, document finishing control, error recovery and waste management are controlled from a single point. Because UP3I supports CIP4, integration with standard workflows, such as JDF-based applications, is seamless. (See "Making the UP31 digital-print connection," September 2004.)

According to Si Nguyen, Duplo product marketing manager, Duplo, working with Océ in Europe, has achieved a 99 percent complete UP3I interface between its System 5000 bookletmaker and Océ’s VarioPrint 5000. "We’re the first [to do that]," he notes.

The interface enables an operator to centrally control the inline bookletmaker, which in turn automatically performs any required size adjustments. The system already is being marketed in Europe—it’s expected to be offered in the United States soon.



Nexpress gets glossing unit
Kodak NexPress Solutions (Rochester, NY) Nexglosser glossing unit uses a fifth imaging unit to deliver a high-gloss coating applied once sheets are cured. Applications include postcard, calendar, sports card, yearbook and photo memory book production. The fifth imaging unit combined with the "near-line" Nexglosser reportedly can achieve higher gloss than a UV coater. The fifth unit also can be used for additional colors, spot coating or imprinting watermarks.
See www.nexpress.com.
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Spot or continuous coating
K2 Systems Group’s (Round Rock, TX) K2 Digicoater Premier can both spot and continuous coat at speeds of up to 6000 sph. Fully automated, the Digicoater Premier handles 15 x 21-inch substrates of varying stock weights. A vacuum-controlled transport conveyor ensures that even the thinnest of substrate stock will stay in place until reaching the automated stacker.
See www.k2systemsgroup.com.
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IGen3 sheeter; continuous printing cutting/stacking
Lasermax Roll Systems (Burlington, MA) and Xerox have developed the DocuSheeter iG, an unwinder, cutter, and transport for the iGen3. The unwinder feeds 50-inch diameter rolls to the cutter module; single sheets are then fed on demand to the iGen3.

Lasermax Roll Systems also offers the MultiUp System for high-speed continuous-form digital printers. It cuts and stacks multi-up printed sheets for book signatures, newspapers, and other over-sized applications.

With its ability to stack sheets up to 36 inches long and 21 inches wide, MultiUp System enables the efficient digital production of sheets for near-line finishing. MultiUp System can handle lightweight sheets in basis weights as low as 10-lb. bond (38 gsm).
See www.rollsystems.com.
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Invisible protection for Xeikon prints
Xeikon’s (Wood Dale, IL) Print Protector applies a water/wax/silicone oil emulsion on both sides of the digital print. This emulsion forms an invisible protective layer that lets Xeikon-printed documents stand up to the wear and tear of everyday use while keeping the colors bright and accurate. The protective coating also significantly reduces static charge buildup. The Xeikon Print Protector is compatible with the complete range of Xeikon print engines and can be used in different modes (sheet, web or standalone).
See www.xeikon.com.
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Folding digitally printed jobs
Morgana Systems’ (Milton Keynes, UK) DigiFold is an integrated creaser/folder for folding digitally printed material without marking the document or cracking the spine. DigiFold uses larger rollers than most folders and incorporates a electronically controlled "flying knife" that is contoured around the rollers and moves at the same speed as the material passing through it. A sheet deflector comes in contact with only the leading edge of the sheet, allowing single or multiple folds to be accomplished with minimal scratching/marking risk.

For standard folding, DigiFold works in "set to fold" mode where, once the fold and sheet lengths have been selected, a programmer automatically sets the creasing and folding positions. When extra creases and/or difficult configurations are required, the operator dials in the creasing and folding positions.
See www.morgana.co.uk.
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Score, perf and slit machine
Rollem (Anaheim, CA) will preview a new airfed scoring, perforating and slitting machine at OnDemand. "Advantage" is offered in 24- and 30-inch models. It can be used for sheetfed or short to midsize digital print runs. Air feeding ensures no cracking or marking while the side guide register reportedly guarantees 100 percent accuracy on all types of stocks.

Users can add other systems inline, such as the Rollem Rollaway for two-directional work, eight-page folders, inkjets and gluing systems. Applications include brochures, catalogs, slitting on variable data sheets, postcards and business cards, microperfing and slit/perforating for CD/DVD inlays.
See www.rollemusa.com.
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Binding hardcover books on demand
On Demand Machinery (ODM) (Elizabeth, NJ) offers a complete line of on-demand hardcover binding machinery. ODM offers a four-step casemaking process with its Spreader topsider gluer, Slider case gauge, Stomper turning-in machine and Squeezer rotary squeeze press. ODM Casemaking can produce 60 to 100 covers per hour (minimum open size 5 x 8 inches; maximum open size 18 x 30 inches). Applications include hardcover outer shells, spiral hardcover books, photo albums, turned edge loose-leaf binders, padded diploma cases, menu covers, game boards and hardcover books.
See www.odmachinery.com.
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Katherine O’Brien is editor of American Printer. Contact her at kobrien@primediabusiness.com.