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Printing Industry Exchange (printindustry.com) is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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Finishing Tools for Digital Custom Printing

I always find it intriguing to watch the developments in digital custom printing. There’s a lot of activity in this arena, and the offerings point to the future, making it crystal clear that print is not dead.

In this light, a colleague sent me some promotional literature from Xerox today describing several pieces of equipment for digitally printing and fabricating folding cartons.

Now before I describe the various commercial printing and finishing tools, I want to make two points:

  1. Growth in the manufacturing of digital packaging (referred to as “folding carton”) equipment makes it clear that package printing is also experiencing explosive growth. Here’s a web link from Smithers Pira (entitled “Global Packaging Market to Reach $975 Billion by 2018”) to give you some background information:
  2. http://www.smitherspira.com/news/2013/december/global-packaging-industry-market-growth-to-2018

  3. The coming to market of finishing tools for digital commercial printing establishes laser printing (along with inkjet) as a viable alternative for “real” print jobs. The field of electrophotography is taking giant leaps beyond cut-sheet printing into the printing, coating, and die cutting of paper board for packaging.

A Review of the Equipment

The Xerox promotional literature describes six pieces of equipment that fall into four categories:

  1. The Digital Presses: The iGen4 and iGen 150 electrophotographic (laser printing) presses provide extraordinary color as well as PANTONE certification. Unlike most older machines, they can print on packaging board material up to 24 pt. in caliper.
  2. The Coaters: Xerox has recently brought to market the TRESU Pinta Coater and Epic CTi-635 Inline Coater, which deliver matte or gloss coated sheets that are dry and immediately ready for diecutting or other finishing operations. Both machines can coat press sheets with aqueous or UV approved coating materials. In addition, both will process 14.3” x 26” press sheets. They can be set up to run inline or offline, providing flexibility in production. In addition, they both use anilox coating technology (which allows for a higher volume of coating, better surface transfer, and higher precision).
  3. The Stacker: Xerox has also brought to market the KAMA Buffering Stacker Line, which allows for continued printing whether or not the die cutter is up and running. This equipment stacks printed jobs up to 24” in height in preparation for subsequent die cutting steps, organizing the printed stacks job by job.
  4. The Die Cutters: Xerox’s KAMA DC 58 Die Cutter and KAMA DC 76 Die Cutter round out the complete digital package production suite. From the marketing literature it seems that the main difference between the two is the cut sheet dimensions: up to 24” x 30” for the DC 76 and up to 15.7” x 22.8” for the DC 58. In either case these dimensions allow for respectably-large packaging, including all glue flaps. In addition, the KAMA DC 76 can be used for braille, embossing, hot foil stamping, and holograms.

In all cases the modular units can be adjusted quickly as job needs change, and they can be used either inline or offline.

Features and Benefits of This Finishing Equipment

  1. All equipment comes from one source, Xerox, so everything will work together.
  2. Jobs can be ready for market quickly, since the individual machines have been designed to work in tandem and to be adjusted quickly in preparation for successive jobs.
  3. Since the printing and finishing products have a “modular architecture” (as per the Xerox literature), they can be scaled up as a print provider’s needs change.
  4. Transferring short-run package printing from larger offset presses to this suite of digital equipment will speed up production while freeing up the offset presses for longer press runs.
  5. This suite of Xerox products makes shorter runs cost-effective.
  6. The iGen offerings can print variable-data, anti-counterfitting information and individual item-tracking information, all while allowing for less inventory and less waste than a comparable suite of offset printing and finishing equipment.

The Implications of This Equipment

What all of this really means is that printers can produce prototypes of packaging; or short, versioned runs that accommodate different languages, smaller brands, test marketing, or specialized or regional interests.

Printers can quickly turn around time-sensitive pieces, taking advantage of the variable-data capabilities of the iGen, and going beyond the limits of cut-sheet printing to add the diecutting, embossing, and foil stamping capabilities needed for the burgeoning flexible-packaging market.

As with all digital custom printing, this suite of products can customize imagery, text, and color to target each printed and finished item to a specific market.

2 Responses to “Finishing Tools for Digital Custom Printing”

  1. Jordan says:

    Great overview of some of the equipment for finishing prints. It’s good for people getting things printed to understand some of the process and what goes into it. Thanks for sharing!

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