Duplo has formally launched the inline version of its booklet maker that was shown at Drupa this year. The interface is developed for Ricoh's latest generation machines, namely the Pro C7100 and Pro C9100 presses.
“It has been signed off and is being sold in the US. It is going through Ricoh's approval process for Europe at Telford,” says Duplo International marketing manager Sarah Crumpler. “We have customers in Duplo International who are waiting for this.”
The development has taken two years of work and while it would be possible to link to other press types, no such work is being undertaken by Duplo. Likewise Ricoh can link to other finishing systems and has developed this for the Watkiss PowerSquare 224 for example.
This is not a booklet making unit designed to be integral to the print engine as Plockmatic, for example, specialises in. These have tended to appeal to implant print set ups. Instead Duplo is using the full DBM600 or 350, replacing the digital sheet feeder with the press itself. It automates what have been separate processes for printing and finishing steps.
“It means less human intervention, less moving of paper and easier set up and control,” says Crumpler.
The secret is an interface box built by Ricoh that allows the print engine to take a signal from the finisher. But it does not mean that the finishing line operates the press. Both are set up using their own touch screen interfaces, as is the EFI Fiery Rip which also needs to separate instructions.
It is finishing, however, which has primacy, deciding on trim areas, the position of creases, folds and stitches. It also manages the timing of the line, only calling for the next printed sheet when the finishing line is ready. in trials and testing there have been few waits as the finishing process is faster than the Pro C7100 print engine at least.
The development is sure to rekindle the inline versus offline debate, whether inline finishing reduces overall productivity and flexibility compared to the reduced manning and greater automation.
One aspect from the previous generation of equipment is no longer an issue. The accuracy of the Ricoh engine means that registration is not a problem because the image is always printed in the right position.
This means that there are no cameras to monitor the sheet as it enters the finishing line. It means too that there is no need to identify a job with a printed barcode or mark to trigger the action of the finishing system. This is inherent in the instruction set. Instead it is the timing of the sheet’s movement and arrive that is crucial to the success for the development. Currently there is no provision for a separate cover feeder
A number of lines have been sold, though none as yet in the UK. The appeal will be to companies with enough digitally printed booklet work to justify the investment and wanting to reduce the manpower deployed to run a brochure production cell.
Ricoh has linked its latest colour printers with Duplo's inline booklet making systems to reduce handling, mistakes and manning that comes from offline or near line production. The project has taken two years to reach this stage where sales are now beginning.