Standards are needed to ensure quality in an automated workflow.
PRINT FINISHING NEEDS AN INDUSTRY STANDARD as the process becomes more automated, jobs are submitted across the Internet and involve non professional print buyers. The call came during a round table on automation in print finishing organised by Print Business.
Involving both suppliers and printers the group discussed all aspects driving the growth and need for automation in finishing processes, but the absence of a standard, particularly for digital print, could cause problems in future. The event was sponsored by Muller Martini, Kolbus, IFS and Watkiss.
THERE IS WORK UNDERWAY ON AN ISO FINISHING STANDARD under the auspices of the TC130 committee, but this is making slow progress and is unlikely to be published in the near future. However, the increasing use of digital print technology driving shorter print runs is likely to cause problems for printers if customers remain uncertain about what they can expect from the finishing task.
Paul Attew, sales director of Watkiss Automation, says: "It would be nice to have an SO standard for finishing. Because digital printing is relatively easy anybody can start to make books, but they may not understand finishing, consequently the cover might be too weak for the book inside."
ANDREAS SCHILLINGER, MULLER MARTINI UK MANAGING director agrees adding: "A standard would be good for print buyers and avoid a lot if confusion." PUR glues are essential for laminated or varnished sheets, but specifiers may not understand this, leading to complaints when a binding does not hold. Customer complains would naturally follow.
As automation increases in future, variable elements in the process need defining, making a standard definition an essential element of creating a 'lights out' workflow, just as it is for printing. "Sometimes it would help things to have something to say that a job has been finished to an industry standard," says Christopher O'Brian, Hobs Reprograohics.
ELEMENTS THAT WOULD NEED TO BE COVERED would include page strength pull tests and minimum specifications for the amount of glue applied to a perfect bound book; the correct choice of glue for the paper or printing technology; the accuracy of cutting and folding.
Finishing has always considered itself a process that fixes errors introduced earlier in the production process, and as every product remains bespoke, definition of a standard has been thought impractical, if not impossible. However, web sites promoting photo books and self published paperbacks are already imposing some standards by limiting the papers and cover stock used. A recognised industry standard would promote consistency between service providers and avoid possible disappointment for buyers.