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On-demand finishing options

Mar 1, 2002 12:00 AM

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When Xerox introduced the DocuTech in the early 1990s, it created a new kind of printing: on demand. This breakthrough also ushered in new finishing challenges.

On-demand finishing obviously must be done quickly — but printers can't skimp on accuracy or quality, either. On a variable-data job, each piece is unique; a zero-tolerance waste strategy is a must. And it doesn't matter how fast you can print a job if the toner cracks when the piece is folded.

Digital-printer and postpress-equipment vendors' solutions range from modestly priced offline laminators to sophisticated, fully automated inline systems. Applications generally dictate the choice of inline or near-line equipment. Inline equipment offers almost seamless integration from start to finish while eliminating human labor (not to mention errors). But some users prefer the flexibility of near-line systems, particularly for short runs that require several different size formats.

The Bourg Book Factory, a combined effort of C.P. Bourg, Xerox and Roll Systems, incorporates binding instructions within the job queing system. Roll Systems' DocuSheeter cuts roll paper stock into 9 × 12-inch sheets. These sheets are then fed inline into a Xerox DocuTech, which prints four-up. Printed sheets then exit the DocuTech and are fed into the user's choice of Bourg finishing devices.

Duplo, Watkiss, Standard, Horizon, C.P. Bourg and other vendors also offer modular equipment that interface with high-speed printers from Canon, IBM, Heidelberg, Océ and Xerox. Müller Martini and IBIS, two familiar names from the “traditional” print world, are expanding into inline, on-demand stitching through partnerships with Océ. Look for more finishing options to be introduced for Heidelberg's NexPress and Xerox's iGen3 as these products mature.

The major digital-printer vendors have their own software codes for describing the complete attributes of a print job, from file handling and correction, through printing, collating and finishing. But nearly all of the on-demand printing and finishing equipment vendors recently announced an effort — similar to CIP4 — to create an open interface standard for all digital-printing hardware components (see

Here is a preview of some of the products you'll be seeing at the On Demand show (April 23-25, New York City). Look for on-demand updates at


The DigiCoil automated color-coil inserter from GBC accommodates coil sizes from 8mm to 33mm. Changeovers reportedly take just two minutes and don't require extra tools. Operators measure the document on the built-in scale, install the correct spine formers, set a knife-height adjustment lever and press the start button. Its two-stage design also enables fast production of longer runs. Users can load one document while another is being cut and crimped, producing up to 450 books per hour. DigiCoil can bind books with a bound edge of up to 4.25 × 14.5 inches, unbound up to 5 × 12 inches. Finished documents can be removed from the output stacker without interrupting production. DigiCoil can also handle index tabs and oversized covers.


The SC-1 Autocase casemaking machine from GP2 Technologies, Inc. is a casemaker for short-run and on-demand production of covers and casebound books. The SC-1 produces five covers per minute with no time required for size and material changes. It can also produce covers of different sizes for every machine cycle, resulting in zero scrap. Other models can produce short-run ring binders, photo album covers and other applications.


Graphic Whizard's FoldMaster 250 is a 17-inch-wide air-feed folder capable of running up to 25,000 sph. The fold rollers feature individually depth-adjustable accessory holders. Perforating, scoring or slitting can be done before or after the fold rollers. Sheets up to 15 inches wide can be folded; stock up to 17 inches wide can be perforated or scored when users remove the upper fold plate. An electronic counter and speed control are included; batching capabilities are optional.


James Burn International's (JBI) DocuPunch complements its Wire-O and UniCoil document-finishing systems. It features speeds up to 30,000 sph, a wide assortment of die patterns and fast changeovers. It punches paper stocks, covers and tabbed sheets in sizes ranging from 5.5 × 5.5 inches up to 13 × 12 inches. Users control the system from a touch-key panel.


The Amigo Digital binder from Müller Martini, Océ Printing Systems and Hunkeler includes an Océ digital printer and front end; Müller Martini Amigo perfect binder; and Hunkeler unwinder, cutter, delivery mechanism, stacker and evacuation system. It can be configured for both near-line and inline production scenarios. It features speeds up to 1,000 books per hour and can bind any book thickness from 3mm to 40mm.


Duplo's DocuCutter DC-545 automatically slits, cuts and creases documents in one pass, making it suitable for short-run, on-demand jobs. A barcode reader enables the system to recall pre-programmed jobs and provide a fully automatic slitting, cutting and creasing solution, as well as read a registration mark ensuring precise output. It compensates for image shift from start to finish. A creasing unit ensures that color printed documents don't crack when folded. Applications include business cards, greeting cards, invitations, brochures, catalogs and more.


The Standard Horizon SPF-20XII inline bookletmaker from Standard Finishing Systems and Horizon International features an internal high-capacity stacker that can hold up to 18.8 inches of stacked sheets or sets. Designed for inline operation with the Xerox 6180 production publisher and the Standard Horizon BQ-340 perfect binder, the system features fully automated setup and operation. A high-capacity vacuum cover feeder applies a color cover to the set of imaged sheets. The set is then jogged, stitched, folded and face-trimmed. Digital stepper motors enable fast changeovers.


Heidelberg's Bindexpert perfect binder alternates between hotmelt and dispersion gluing, depending on paper type. It features three time programs for cover nipping and adjustable glue application via an adjustable glue-metering device. Its maximum speed is 300 cph with a maximum book length of 17.2 inches and thickness ranging from two sheets up to 1.6 inches.


Müller Martini's Valore saddlestitcher is rated at 6,000 cph. Its automatic feeder accepts all signature openings, including high- and low-folio and suction openings. A center-cut device in the three-knife trimmer enables two-up production. Flat sheets can be fed directly from the press into the cover folder feeder for quicker turnarounds.

The stitcher's caliper control ensures that all sections are complete. If a piece has been left out, stitching is omitted and the product is rejected. Programmable logic control provides the operator with a text display containing set-up information and running speed.


The Rollem Champion 990 Turbo Airfeed features easily adjustable heads for high-quality scoring, perforating and slitting with reportedly minimal set-up time. It accommodates stock up to 14-pt. cover at speeds up to 18,000 sph. It is available in 17-inch and 23-inch models. The airfeed system prevents cracking and marking. Rollem's patented airfeed system reportedly prevents any cracking or marking.


The Ucoat inline UV coating unit from Xeikon enables users to print, UV-coat, slit and rewind or cut digitally printed pieces in a single pass, at full press speed. It is compatible with Xeikon DCP web-fed presses as both an inline and offline component. It can be configured as a laminating unit, slitter, rewinding spindle, guillotine cutter and an output conveyer belt. Applications range from book covers, direct-mail pieces, labels and packaging to glossy posters and brochures.


Heidelberg's inline hole-punch for the Digimaster 9110 network imaging system offers three- and four-hole punch and Wire-O capabilities, operator-interchangeable dies and optional punch tools for plastic comb and spiral binding. Its rotating punch tool punches one sheet at a time. Punch-tool parameters are stored in memory and activated automatically. The position of the hole, relative to the paper edge, is adjustable and software-enabled. The rotating tool is said to be quieter than guillotine-punching devices.


The D&K Group recently launched SuperStick, a thermal film that reportedly adheres to hard-to-stick substrates, even digital prints with high toner or fuser-oil levels. It features less static and lower adhesive transfer, and laminates at temperatures between 260°F and 290°F with minimal tension and pressure adjustments. SuperStick is available on several thicknesses of nylon and polyester films.


IBIS recently introduced the DST2-NL, an offline version of its Digi-stitcher DST2 saddlestitcher. Like the inline version, the DST2-NL features operating speeds up to 5,400 books per hour, production of books up to 148 pages with a fold quality equal to conventional saddlestitchers, and front and side trimming. It includes a high-speed pile feeder that feeds sheets at four per second.


GBC's Orbit 2000 compact laminator for one-sided, on-demand applications allows operators to control it from one side. It features a built-in feeder and separator, and can laminate up to 2,770 11 × 17-inch sph. The Orbit 2000 laminator uses GBC Hi-tac 1.7-mil film on paper stocks ranging from 70 lb. to 24 pt.


Standard Finishing Systems and Horizon International's Standard Horizon ColorWorks 2000 is an inline bookletmaker for Xerox's DocuColor 2045 and 2060 digital presses. The system performs corner, side and center-stapling functions, as well as rotary bleed trimming, booklet folding and face trimming. Users initiate operating and changeover settings through an icon-based, LCD touchscreen. The system is equipped with an interposer for cover inserting or sheet feeding, allowing most finishing styles on common paper sizes and stocks.


Duplo's DSF-2000 document sheet feeder can feed pre-collated output from a digital printer or copier and add a preprinted color cover to the set at a rate of up to 9,000 spm. The feed tray can handle up to 2,000 sheets of 20-lb. bond and the cover tray accommodates up to 600 sheets of 20-lb. bond. Optical mark recognition (OMR) comes standard with the unit; a barcode reader is optional. The DSF-2000 also features automatic setup.


Xerox and Roll Systems present a new rotator for the DocuSheeter roll-to-sheet feeder that eliminates the need for special short-grain paper reams. Users can choose preferred orientation. This paper-grain flexibility enables high-quality book production from a roll source. The DocuSheeter and new rotator option can be used inline or offline with DocuTech and DocuPrint printers.


GBC's Magnapunch offers high-volume punching with interchangeable die sets for high productivity. It reportedly ensures accurate paper alignment and excellent speed, regardless of the number of holes being punched. Die sets are changed in seconds without tools or fasteners and automatically lock securely into place. Pins remove quickly and effortlessly for punching a variety of paper sizes. Users can choose either the foot pedal or the tabletop trigger switch to punch documents.

Océ offers on-demand preview

At April's On Demand Show, Océ and Standard Finishing are planning to introduce a new intelligent feeding and offset stacking line that permits variable booklet production with covers and inserts, or tab insertion and stacking. The line, which doesn't have a name yet, consists of the Standard Hunkeler UW4 unwinder, CS4 pinless cutter/stacker, DD4 document delivery module, the Standard Horizon VAC-100 collator, ST-40 stacker and the SPF/FC-20A automated bookletmaker.

Océ will also soon announce a new high-speed saddlestitcher that reportedly can accommodate lightweight paper, giving users more choices for throughput volume and paper formats, as well as size, number of pages and the end-product design. It also includes several knife-trimming options, for flatter books.

For more articles about on-demand finishing, check out “Faster finishing for quick printers,” August 2001, p. 38); “Attracting interest: the state of FOD,”February 2001, p. 40; and “Demanding FOD,” July 2000, p. 30. See our article archives at