Digital Print is Only Valuable After It’s “Finished”

Welcome to the inaugural entry to my new blog for Muller Martini’s Digital Solutions. For those who don’t know me, I have been with Muller Martini for over 16 years and have spent the last 10 managing our scalable solutions for the exciting world of digital finishing. During this time I have witnessed an obvious and understandable fixation in the graphic arts industry on digital print engines (originally toner and now moreso inkjet) and how the evolution of this technology will affect a print operation.

While working on various projects, I have seen many operation and production managers spend countless hours combing through print engine specifications and running samples after samples on various competitive technologies. At the end they proudly choose the printer that rises to the top as a result of their analysis. However, this sense of achievement is short-lived, when they realize that they ignored the most important aspect of a digitally printed product – how will they finish it! That’s when I usually get a call for help.

The above short story is very true and has been repeated too many times. Most printers don’t realize the obvious during their intense digital print engine research that a roll of printed paper is basically worthless, until it is finished. Upon this realization, they begin the mad dash to understand the various finishing options available to make their products sellable. Unfortunately, time is usually of the essence at this point, so everyone feels extra pressure to make the right decision in a relatively short period of time. Pressure that could have been minimized by focusing on the complete solution right from the beginning.

What makes it worse is that the digital finishing solution analysis can be rather complex. There are many steps in this process that begins with an analysis of their job mix to see what basic type of finishing is required. In most cases they aren’t sure if a near-line or in-line workflow is better for their new digital initiative, so we must analyze both near-line and in-line configurations in order to ensure that they have a certain level of investment protection for future growth. This flexibility is important due to the somewhat uncertain nature of the evolution of this paradigm shift to digital. This discovery usually continues on for many weeks or even months, before we find the right solution to meet their needs.

So don’t forget the moral of this story – digital print is only valuable after it’s “finished.” Therefore, remember to include finishing solutions in your analysis from day one.

Thank you for reading my blog. I look forward to your feedback and responses. Until next time…


Learn more about Andy Fetherman

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