Star product: Duplo DC-646i JDF

Workhorse multi-finisher gets a smart upgrade.

What does the system do? 

It’s an existing modular multi-finishing system for digital print, now modified with bi-directional JDF communication with the HP Smartstream pre-press environment and HP Indigo presses. Duplo’s e-Tandem remote servicing technology forms the only finishing component so far in the new HP PrintOS apps suite.

When was it launched and what market is it aimed at?

The DC-646 was introduced at Ipex 2014 and has recently seen a ‘mid-life’ update called DC-646i. The JDF option is brand new and being launched at Drupa this week, where it will run in conjunction with HP Indigo 7900 and 10000 digital presses, plus a 7800 on the Duplo stand. 

The DC-646i is the next-to-top Duplo single-pass multi-finisher. According to Peter Dyson, Duplo’s product development manager for digital finishing, it’s intended for “mid- to high-volume digital print shops. Typically it is run alongside presses that run 70 to 140ppm.” Common applications would include folded brochures and flyers, business cards, greetings cards, menus and coupons. 

The JDF option is offered first on the DC-646i rather than the DC-746, which is twice as fast, he says. “We chose the DC-646i because of the size of the installed base and the number we have alongside HP Indigo presses already.”

How does it work? 

The base system is modular. As standard it includes a marginal slitter module, a rotary tool module, two centre-slitter modules, a creaser tool and a cross-knife tool. Optional modules will perforate, slit-score, micro-perf/score in both directions and skip-perf multiple times. It creates up to eight lengthways slits, 25 cross-cuts and 20 creases in one pass.

The DC-646i Pro includes the most popular options at lower cost than choosing them separately. There is also an IFS configuration with an inline folder, fully integrated into the PC controller.

The JDF component runs in software and accepts job tickets from the HP SmartStream front-end that also controls HP Indigo presses. It sends JMF live data back to SmartStream and an MIS if present. The DC-646 appears as a device on SmartStream, which knows its specs and will configure suitable job tickets for it. 

JDF jobs appear in the DC-646 control screen. “We already have a queue system in the current GUI where you can recall jobs,” Dyson says. “The JDF workflow works with that, so you can see jobs, and pick them and decide on the priority.”

Despite JDF’s ambitions as a universal job definition format, Dyson says that so far Duplo has only been able to work successfully with HP to establish a reliable system. It has demonstrated JDF over the past decade on the DC-646 and the previous DC-645, to go with various presses. “You can get it working in the lab, but in the real world there are issues to do with the whole workflow process,” he says. 

“We’ve been down quite a lot of blind alleys with different partners. The HP Direct to Finish programme is the first sensible one I’ve seen that tackles the whole process from start to finish. Because SmartStream is managing the job and the press it is validating the job ticket before it reaches us. It knows the specification of our machine. Before the job gets to us, if there is something wrong with it, it is already blocked by the DFE. It means we only need to support our particular kit, and not have to get involved in debugging and troubleshooting upstream.”

How does it differ from previous versions?

The DC-646 is a 2015 replacement for the original DC-645 with more flexible configurations. The JDF option is brand new. 

How fast/productive is it?

Depends on the complexity of the job. A simple brochure, 1-up double-sided on SRA3, can be 25spm. Business cards would be a lot slower.

What is the USP?

Dyson says that this is the only modular finishing system to offer bi-directional JDF at this price point. “We’re hoping that this will be the programme that finally proves that this is the way to go forward, then we’ll be able to roll it out to other products. The DC-746 is next on the list.”

How easy is it to use?

The DC-646i is designed for easy job changeover. The PC controller and GUI can set up jobs based on supplied templates, which are stored for later re-use and further modification. JDF job tickets transfer setting instructions to the controller. 

What training and service support is on offer?

The DC-646 training is half a day, plus a couple of engineer visits to help with early jobs. For JDF, Dyson says: “You could learn it in an hour. Setting up jobs on the DFE requires more training, but that would be done by HP.”

How much does it cost?

Around £50,000.

What is the sales target, how many are installed currently worldwide and in the UK?

No figures and no installations yet. A beta test will start in Israel immediately after Drupa, and Dyson says there are two candidate commercial users in the UK and one in Germany afterwards. 


Speed 25ppm A4 LEF (long-edge feeding) two cut and one crease)

Paper width 210-370mm 

Paper length 210-670mm (optionally 999mm)

Paper weights 110-350gsm

Slits (length of sheet) Six as standard, eight with the optional module

JDF requirements HP SmartStream DFE and HP Indigo press

Price Around £50,000

Contact Duplo 01932 263900


Horizon Smart Slitter SMSL-100

A sophisticated multi-function finisher designed for the same type of work as Duplo’s top-end DC-746. It uses Horizon’s SmartConnect JDF/PDF workflow, but without an equivalent to Duplo’s HP SmartStream integration. 

Functions Slit, crease, perforate, cut

Max sheet size 360x670mm

Min sheet size 210x210mm

Creasing lines Up to 20

Paper weights 80-350gsm

Speed Up to 55spm

Price £54,000 with creasing cassette and delivery conveyor

Contact IFS 020 8997 8053

Uchida Aerocut Quatro

Introduced at the last Drupa, the AeroCut Quatro is distributed by Morgana in the UK. It’s slower than the DC-646 but costs less. It has no JDF or sophisticated networking, but it can take artwork jobs from a special Adobe Illustrator plug-in and set itself up to work with them. An inline Morgana Autofold option adds about £11,000. 

Functions Slit, crease, perforate, cut, plus optional fold

In-feed paper size width 210-365mm, length 210-520mm 

Min finished size 55x50mm (WxL)

Paper weights 120-350gsm

Speeds A4 perf only: 46spm; A4 two cuts, one crease: 20spm; SRA3 21-up business cards: 8spm; SRA3 eight postcards: 12spm; SRA3 four greetings cards 14spm

Price From £26,000

Contact Morgana 01908 608888 


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