A Duplo Upgrade As A Weapon Against Commoditization

Few observers of the commercial print industry have missed the fact that the industry now changes at hyper speed, even as it continues to consolidate. These days, most of these technology innovations fall under the aegis of automation, as efficiency becomes ever more critical to competitiveness. For better or worse, the machines keep getting smarter and taking on more of the workload as skilled operators become harder to find.

Change is generally good – especially when it improves productivity and lowers job costs - but the speed at which new technology can be rolled out also means a narrowing time window of competitive advantage. Commoditization follows rapidly on the heels of progress, and staying off the treadmill means adding value to the print printing process, either through more efficient production or the ability to offer capabilities that the competition can’t.

That observation may be even more relevant in the after print space, which currently offers more opportunities for automation and artificial intelligence. In fact, the area of post print finishing may be the most exciting sector in the business in terms of innovation.

Progress Is Also Marked In Upgrades
For long term print industry equipment manufacturers such as Duplo, the war against business-as-usual often takes the form of novel new product introductions. For example, late last year, we told you about the company’s DDC-810 Raised Spot Coater, which both taps into and drives the growing trend toward print embellishment. Something of a departure from Duplo’s standard line of binding finishing equipment, the new digital spot coater created the potential for dimensional and textural print enhancement to create a level of communication beyond the visual. It was a simpler, less expensive platform for digital spot coating: simple to operate, with a CCD camera registration system, to automatically correct for page distortion. And it was highly automated: the operator simply uploads a PDF or TIFF along with the XML files and sends the job on its way.

And yet, equally critical in the struggle to stay ahead of the pack is the less flashy process of ongoing equipment upgrades. Manufacturers who are in it for the long haul ceaselessly invest in improving the intelligence and capabilities of existing machines.

Duplo’s most recent entry in this category is the iSaddle X Booklet Maker, an upgrade to the original iSaddle stitcher introduced in 2012. But the new model has added some unique capabilities, particularly the ability to bind multi-size sheets into the same job without retooling – up to six different sizes in the same booklet. Commercial printers equipped with an iSaddle X can accommodate clients’ creative publication designs, a major advantage in markets such as children’s books, recipe books and other specialty publications. The iSaddle X also produces two-sided waterfall books, six page cover booklets and long cover booklets.

The iSaddle X upgrade is a modular system that is even smarter than the original. Makeready is managed by an intuitive touchscreen, with no tools or manual processes required for job changeover. Date integrity is assured via an integrated barcode reader and an unlimited number of jobs can be stored in the system memory for instant recall. The upgraded collating towers allow merging of different substrates, as well as full color/single color pages into the same booklet.

The iSaddle X is joined in the upgrade parade by an improved DC-516 Cutter-Creaser and the PFI Bind 2100 Perfect Binder (an upgrade to the PFI Bind 2000).

The DC-516 is a smarter version of the original, equipped with what the company describes as “set and forget” functionality. It can crease up to 6000 sheets per hour, with up to 30 cuts, 30 creases and 10 slits. In addition, a new optional conveyor allows automatic batch separation, a plus when producing business cards.
Likewise, the PFI Bind 2100 now offers intelligent gluing and enhanced waste reduction. It is targeting to short run, digital on-demand book binding applications.


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