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Print is more alive than ever – the right technology makes it possible

With its technical solutions, digital printing opens up new and exciting fields of applications for printed products. The basis for this is customized print processing.

It is obvious that print products are again on the road to success. The number of magazine titles is at an alltime high. Printed mailings are also experiencing a renaissance. And there is a reason for this phenomenon. Within the scope of cross media campaigns, print mailings are considered as an important push medium which persuades the addressee to have a closer look at the advertised brand and to act accordingly. In the meantime many people who are responsible for marketing have recognized that it is not sufficient to distribute electronic newsletters, because they are often drowned in the daily flood of e-mails.  Moreover, printed advertising material which also feels agreeable to the touch appeal to several senses of the recipient. It has been scientifically proven that messages being conveyed in this way leave a much stronger impact on the memory. This is after all the aim of any advertising campaign.   

Paper plays out its strengths
The possibilities of digital printing play a significant part in the reinvigoration of print mailings.  Its technical characteristics allow a degree of individualization which result in genuine 1:1 communication. Class instead of mass, individual and with a high-grade finish instead of the equal distribution of mailings is the formula for success. But the fields of application for individualized print products are even more versatile. Individual brochures and books tailored to the demands of the customer respectively reader are now a reality. Many people appreciate the printed book again, in spite of all optimistic forecasts for E-book readers. The advantages over the electronic alternatives are undisputable: the contents are more easily accessible, no sources of energy are needed and the senses of touch and smell are activated and contribute to the positive experience.

Investments are necessary to achieve maximum efficiency
As each product is produced as a unique item in digital printing, specific requirements must be considered for further processing, such as, for example, an online connection between the digital printing machine and the components for further processing. However, an online production is not always the best solution. Offline operation may still be justified, because it is often the more variable and economical solution. Thanks to its efficiency, a folding machine can process the output coming from several digital printing machines. Thus the decision between offline and online depends on the product and the mode of operation.

For this reason digital printing does not just mean investments in pre-press and printing equipment, but in most cases also in post-press devices, because the traditional separation between printing and further processing is gradually disappearing. The volumes that are printed in a very short time must also be delivered in a very short time. This means that there is often not enough time to leave print finishing to a bookbinder. The machines must also be equipped with additional features to counteract problems connected with the application of toner, static charge and the dryness of the printing stock. Therefore processing machines for digital printing must meet the following requirements:

•    Automated machines
•    Easy operation
•    Logical operator guidance via display
•    Short set-up and down times
•    Minimum waste

The fully automatic folding machines from MB Bäuerle fully meet the demands of this market segment due to their automation and operator convenience. Fully automatic folding means that important setting and change-over steps no longer have to be made manually. Settings are calculated by the software and run automatically. The most frequent standard folds are pre-programmed, all other folds are freely programmable. Repeat jobs may be saved in the memory and set up automatically when needed. The fold roller settings are also supported by the computer.

MB Bäuerle is building fully automatic folding machines with different infeed widths. With the prestigeFOLD NET 52, A3-size sheets, the typical format for digital printing, can be processed horizontally or vertically (for previous creasing). The prestigeFOLD NET 52 folding machine, which comes close to the operating concept of digital printing due to its high degree of automation from feeder to delivery, offers the latest technology in this field. With its wide range of formats from 10 x 12 cm to 52 x 85 cm, fold lengths ranging from 3.5 to 48 cm and the possibility to use additional equipment (gate fold plates, gluing devices, different perforating and cutting tools, timed heads from cutting or perforating, reading devices), other important criteria for the use in digital printing are met.

Online folding systems for specific applications
If the folding machine is used for processing specific products, a direct online connection to the printing machine may be the ideal solution. The transfer of the sheets from the printing system or cutter to the fold unit is achieved by means of special alignment tables which differ in size and equipment. The largest alignment table (ART 52: corresponds to 52“) is capable of aligning sheets up to a length of 132 cm and is ideal for the production of books. Another possibility for the transfer of sheets is, for example, the double alignment table DAT 24. It has been designed for a sheet length of 24“ and can be used for two-up production by means of a left and right alignment rail. The sheets are aligned and folded side by side. A turning station is also interesting for this kind of production. With this application, sheets can be turned by 90° during transport, which makes it possible to change the direction without a roller table.

New possibilities through selective folding
Other products, which so far could not be processed online, can now also be executed with digital printing, such as the production of brochures containing unfolded as well as folded pages or different types of fold (e.g. special diagrams or charts in reports, financial statements or operating instructions). Printing different formats in the correct sequence is no problem for the printing system. However, folding different formats in an arbitrarily changing order is not possible with conventional folding machines. MB Bäuerle has developed a solution for this special application, i.e. “Selective Folding“. The technical basis for this are a length measuring feature and special fold plates. The system measures the length of each arriving sheet and recognizes for which sheet the fold plates must be closed or opened to create the proper type of fold. This makes it possible to produce 8- or 16-page signatures or folded and unfolded sheets in random order.

Flexible creasing and folding in a single process
A typical problem when folding digital prints is the cracking of the toner layer during the folding process. This is the result of the preceding fixing process and has nothing to do with the technology employed during print finishing. For the efficient processing of digitally printed products or other delicate material, MB Bäuerle has developed the Multi flexible inline system for creasing and folding. The different modules are mounted on a rail system, making it possible to arrange them differently in a very short time to suit the intended use. Creasing along the fold line can considerably reduce or even avoid the cracking of the toner layer. The sheets are transported from the flat pile feeder to the alignment table where they are aligned prior to the creasing process. After being creased or perforated, the sheets are transferred to the alignment table of the folding system and aligned again before the folding process. As processing takes place in one pass, there is hardly any risk that the material is marked. In addition, intermediate stacking before folding is no longer needed. Aligning the sheets before and after creasing also ensures greater accuracy. An important feature of the inline system is the high degree of flexibility for the user, as various production options are available: creasing and folding, just creasing, just perforating or just folding. In connection with a flat pile feeder and an alignment track, the creasing and perforating machine can also be used as a stand-alone system.

One thing is certain: For print products there are more fields of application than ever before. The clever use of the suitable technology in print and print finishing opens up great opportunities for creative brains in the graphic arts industry.

The components of Multi flexible inline system are mounted on rails, which makes it possible to place them according to the intended purpose.

Do you have any questions?
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