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Innovations for finishing processes in digital printing14/03/2011
Digital Solutions from Muller Martini Yield
New Growth Opportunities for Graphic Companies
The more efficient digital printing systems become, the more challenging finishing process will be. Muller Martini, the leading specialist in the field of inline finishing, develops innovative digital printing solutions that yield new growth opportunities for the graphic arts industry – for perfect binding as well as hardcover production and saddle stitching.
Despite increasing diversity and a rise in the number of titles being produced, sales of printed products are declining. This situation is resulting in shorter runs, for hardcover and softcover books as well as stitched products. The increasingly tough market environment is piling on the pressure for publishers, who must minimize risk and improve stock management in order to survive in this highly competitive market. One step they are taking is to limit runs for their printed products in order to avoid overproduction. The situation represents both a major challenge for the graphic arts industry and a fantastic opportunity for it to position itself in the digital printing sector using new business models.
Ideal Platform for Digital Printing
The growing market for shorter runs offers the ideal platform for digital printing, in particular for integrated inkjet printing systems. Inkjet technology has been used in office printers for some time now. The impressive reliability, performance and quality results achieved with this technology, plus the ongoing reduction in costs per printed page, have found its way into heavy-duty industrial production systems. It supports greater web widths and higher speeds, even in four-color printing, making it an attractive proposition to a growing volume of customers within the graphic arts industry.
Muller Martini has a close eye on market trends and enjoys successful partnerships with the leading manufacturers of digital printing systems, such as HP, Kodak or Océ among others. Experience gained in recent years with the SigmaLine digital book production system, plus Muller Martini’s extensive product segment, have paved the way for the development of ideal solutions for new applications.
Muller Martini Solves a Challenge
Digital printing is just one component on the path to the finished print product. The second is efficient and cost-effective finishing processes. “It has long been clear to us that digital printing was the future,” says one digital printing expert. “But the sticking point was always the finishing. It’s not a digital printing machine that will win you the race, but what comes afterwards.”
Muller Martini has solved this challenge with the SigmaLine, a unique complete system for the fully automated production of a diverse range of printed products. It paves the way for industrial digital book production by networking all processes, from prepress data through to digital printing and finishing, in one complete system. One of the core elements of the system is the unique SigmaFolder. It is the world's only web-based, variable-size signature folder and forms an important link between the printing press and the finishing process.
As the Muller Martini system can process signatures, the graphic arts industry is able to take advantage of the full range of finishing processes for digital printing for the first time. Thanks to the efficient inline system, just one machine operator is needed and the fully automated production process can be completed in a single operation without interruption. The whole process, from the PDF stage to the finished printed product, takes just a few minutes. This consistent linking of all subprocesses makes it possible to produce short runs extremely quickly and efficiently.
Customized Solutions from Muller Martini
Muller Martini’s decades of experience and widespread expertise in the areas of web offset printing and finishing really come into their own in the development and implementation of fully integrated solutions. “We recognize the needs of our customers and develop appropriate solutions,” says Bruno Müller, CEO Muller Martini. “We are expanding on the possibilities offered by traditional finishing to ensure that the industry can take full advantage everything digital printing has to offer.”
Muller Martini adapts the complex processes involved in traditional finishing to suit digital printing – from web-handling through to cutting, folding, gathering and, finally, finishing. With inline configurations, the efficiency and productivity of the complex SigmaLine system can be further increased by means of targeted developments. For instance: A new, modular buffer system (SigmaBuffer) intelligently decouples the printing, folding and gathering process from the binding process but ensures that all the processes still remain connected to each other in line.
Muller Martini's new range of digital solutions also extends to the increasingly powerful inkjet systems. Powerful perfect binders such as the Pantera and the Acoro are integrated into the complete system, really bringing to bear Muller Martini’s impressive expertise with binding techniques and gluing methods.
High Investment Security Thanks to Modular Design
The possibilities of the complete system are not limited to fully integrated inline systems. The modular design (e.g. entry-level models available) supports stand-alone offline solutions that can simply be extended at a later date if the order volume changes.
The extension options are one of the key performance characteristics of Martini Muller’s digital solutions. The modular design provides elegant extension options and guarantees high investment security for customers, allowing them to fulfill digital printing requirements both now and in the future. The SigmaCollator, for instance, incorporates a new function for gluing signatures. The glued book blocks can be temporarily stacked and fed offline to a perfect binder or another finishing process.
New Options for Hardcover, Thread Sewing and Saddle Stitching
Muller Martini’s digital solutions open up new dimensions for printed products not only in perfect binding but also in the hardcover, thread sewing and saddle stitching segments. As signatures can be processed using the Muller Martini digital complete system, it is ideal for high-quality softcover and hardcover production as well as saddle stitching. For this reason, the complete system can be coupled with both a Diamant MC bookline and a Primera saddle stitcher.
Integrating functions for hardcover production and saddle stitching leaves graphic companies even better equipped to fulfill the future demands of their customers. What’s more, extended system functionality is making efficient production of even ultra-short runs an attractive option – for personalized photo books, for example, which are becoming increasingly popular thanks to ongoing advancement in the field of digital color printing.
Complete Digital Integration Using the Connex Workflow System
Whether it's softcover production with the Acoro and Pantera perfect binder lines, hardcover production with the Diamant MC inline bookline or saddle stitching with the highly automated, powerful and extremely configurable Primera family, the digital Connex workflow system developed by Muller Martini and used on a company-wide basis ensures seamless interplay and optimum control of all assemblies in all finishing processes. Connex forms the basis for the seamless integration of softcover, hardcover and saddle stitching systems into the SigmaLine digital complete system.
Connex communicates with all the machines involved: it ensures high levels of safety and transparency during production, generates job data for all systems and facilitates sorting, grouping and planning of orders. These are indispensable assets for shorter runs in particular.
Another major benefit of Connex, upon which all Muller Martini’s new and future developments are based, is the close cooperation between Muller Martini and the world’s leading manufacturers of digital printing systems. This cooperation forms the basis for seamless integration of printing presses into the entire workflow.