Decision making process – Investment in digital printing + finishing equipment

beeline

Member
I've been following the conversations on this forum for some time now and am deeply grateful for the knowledge and expertise shared. Very helpful in enabling our decision to invest in a new digital printing system.

For context, here's our current (digital) setup:
  • HP Indigo 5900
  • Duplo Docucutter (mainly for business cards)
We're also using a variety of finishing options for our digitally printed jobs in our shop:
  • Saddle stitch: Müller Martini Presto E90
  • Fold, stitch, cut: Theisen & Bonitz sprint 304
  • Perfect binder
What we are trying to achieve:
  • In addition to the Indigo's high quality (and high cost) output, add another (significantly more economical) digital printing system for short to medium runs (10-1.000 copies) in 'good enough' quality
  • Avoid the costs that come with setup (and handovers) to stitch, fold, cut
  • Typical products include 4c (some 1c) manuals and handbooks and simple brochures in A5/A4/other formats, 70 - 200g/sqm (some 52g) substrates, up to 96 pages, usually saddle stitched
  • Have one operator run the Indigo and the new system side-by-side
  • We could probably print 50-100k pages per month on this system from the start
We're definitely preferring to buy a used system, to keep the starting costs low. What we're currently looking at in terms of presses and finishing:
  • Ricoh 7100 / Xerox Versant 2100 or 3100 / Konica Minolta 6100
  • Plockmatic 35 / Duplo 350R / OEM inline brochure finishing system / offline brochure finishing
My questions to the forum ... in your opinion and based on your experience:
  • Should we choose an inline finishing option vs. near-line/offline?
  • Should the (inline) finishing system include a three side trim?
  • How good/relevant is squareback?
  • What are the costs per page for used systems that we should expect (current quotes from 3.2 to 3.7 cents colour)? Background: they seem very high in comparison to new systems – the reasoning being that new/more productive systems should be more attractive.
Thanks a lot!
 
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azehnali

Well-known member
most mid to high volume shops use offline binding because online binding slows the system down significantly
with the plockmatic you can use both online and offline
I would go with the 50 unless you never do thicker books
 

beeline

Member
most mid to high volume shops use offline binding because online binding slows the system down significantly
with the plockmatic you can use both online and offline
I would go with the 50 unless you never do thicker books
thanks! hardly do any thicker saddle-stitched brochures (> 100 pages are usually perfect bound). that's why i thought the 35. depends on the availability on the used equipment market though.

what are your thoughts on three-side trim vs. front-trim on plockmatic? hardly and used ones have the RCT (Rotate Crease Trim) module.
 

azehnali

Well-known member
they work great
remember to get the plockmatic you need two additional units that go in between the Xerox and plockmatic and those are hard to find also
 

Ynot_UK

Well-known member
In many shops, the life of finishing equipment tends to be three or more times the life of a print engine. Whilst print engine and toner technology is ever fast advancing, finishing process are comparatively simple and remain largely unchanged. Few shops use a 10 year old digital press, however many have creasers, folders and guillotines much older than that. Offline also gives you added flexibility in not being tied to a specific press.
 

AP90

Well-known member
I will say that we have a Versant 3100 and finish all our saddle stitched stuff inline. The slow down on the machine is minimal, and the books come out fully trimmed and ready to box. The square fold is a must have if you ask me when finishing digitally printed booklets. They just dont lay near flat enough, especially when you start getting into the 50 and 60 page range.

Ive timed our 3100. its rated for 25ppm for 12x18 duplex. When we finish it inline (3 side trim, square fold) we print around 23-23.5 ppm. So the 2ppm loss in production would still save time when your talking about machine setup for a saddle stitcher IMO. The only downside is when you do 5.5x8.5 booklets. If its a full color booklet, we just print 2 up, cut them and then put back in the tray and have the machine finish it. If its B&W its cheaper for us to just print 1 up and finish it inline.

We looked into a duplo DSF system before. I like the idea the sheet feeder instead of the towers. To finish a 100 page booklet, your looking at 3 towers. Gets costly quick. A DSF system it doesn't matter the page count other than the stitcher limit. They're slower, but you can print collated sets and set them in and finish. I believe you could get a SCC, face trim module, and square fold module with say a DBM-120/150 and have the same results we have with our inline. And it'll last you much longer.
 

tngcas

Well-known member
If its a full color booklet, we just print 2 up, cut them and then put back in the tray and have the machine finish it. If its B&W its cheaper for us to just print 1 up and finish it inline.
We do this for half books as well. Print, cut and then put back thru the machine. Half books that are pre-printed go really fast.

Inline is great if you don't have space for a ton of offline equipment. If space is not an issue then not tying your machine up with books is ideal. The best we've been able to get out of our machine is a max of 100 books/hr so if you have a big job then it ties the machine up. Also, if something goes wrong with the inline booklet maker, your entire machine is now down.
 

beeline

Member
In many shops, the life of finishing equipment tends to be three or more times the life of a print engine. Whilst print engine and toner technology is ever fast advancing, finishing process are comparatively simple and remain largely unchanged. Few shops use a 10 year old digital press, however many have creasers, folders and guillotines much older than that. Offline also gives you added flexibility in not being tied to a specific press.
This is a valuable perspective and insight. If committing to an inline piece of equipment now, we'll have way less flexibility when we've reached the press' end of life.
 

azehnali

Well-known member
all plockmatics can be used offline
I suggest you spend some time researching on google and get the real facts
 

Ynot_UK

Well-known member
Well maintained offline finishing equipment tends to hold a good residual value. If your business depreciates plant & machinery assets using the reducing balance method at 15%-25% pa, when you come to sell your ten year old booklet maker, creaser or guillotine, it will give you a very tidy profit on disposal (the difference between book value and realised value). This goes a long way toward covering the year one depreciation on the replacement asset.

Conversely, inline modules certainly do not follow this trend and, when you replace your digital press, the fact it may include what was once a very expensive booklet maker, perfect binder or GBC punch module, this won't get you a lot more money for 1,000kg of five year old technology.

If you try to realise the inline modules separately, rightly or wrongly they are generally just viewed as 'bits of old printers' and this heavily influences both their value and the time taken to find a buyer.
 

beeline

Member
all plockmatics can be used offline
I suggest you spend some time researching on google and get the real facts
Not sure if you're addressing @chriscozi or myself with this? anyway ... in terms of information available for dual mode (inline/offline), the websites of both plockmatic and the press manufacturers are rather sparse on info (spent a good amount of time on research). will get a first "live" look at a plockmatic next week so definitely will address these (and more) questions then.
  • how to feed the plockmatic in offline mode? just hand feed? how is this productive?
  • is the rotate/crease/trim module essential? what does the workflow look like without it?
 

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