Innovation and evolution as slept-on sector starts to rouse

There's little doubt that next year's Drupa will lay the ghost of finishing's 'Cinderella image' to rest for good, with a plethora of post-press innovations on show.

As highlighted in the first of our technology features, while printers are becoming increasingly agnostic when it comes to digital or litho in terms of putting images on paper, in terms of finishing, there’s still a strong element of ‘either/or’ and this represents a serious opportunity for vendors to develop kit that is fit for – and priced for – purpose when it comes to processing both digital and offset output.

We’ve already started to see some of the heavy metal post-press equipment manufacturers, such as Kolbus and Muller Martini, develop kit that, in terms of production capabilities, is designed for hybrid environments. In fact, of the nine ‘bestsellers’ highlighted by leading vendors, no fewer than seven are aimed squarely at digital output.

So, if digital finishing is where all the action is, where does this leave the much maligned trade finisher? After all, digital’s need for speed hardly plays well to being outsourced and, as underlined in our business feature, the typical trade finisher’s lot has hardly been a happy one in recent years, as falling margins and the industry’s rush to bring these services in-house hit.

However, in the same way as the image of the post-press process has undergone a transformation, the business of trade finishing is similarly evolving – as illustrated by First 4 Print Finishing being crowned PrintWeek SME of the Year in 2010.
So perhaps, in terms of fairytale similes, finishing should probably be dubbed the Sleeping Beauty sector, and it’s starting to wake up.

Darryl Danielli is editor of PrintWeek


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