End-to-End Book Production
Equipment manufacturers step up to provide a seamless approach to digital book production.
By Cassandra Carnes
Publishers are ordering fewer books more frequently. Meanwhile, alternative electronic technologies are entering the mix—this time with staying power. A revamped print lineup is not the only answer. Automated workflows allow print providers to accept, produce, and deliver an increased number of jobs that entail smaller run lengths and more complexity. "At a high-level, an efficient book manufacturing process includes analysis of both print and workflow elements. This includes integrated ordering, network and physical infrastructure, paper standardization practices, prepress automation, and processes and archive solutions," says Rob Malkin, color production product manager, InfoPrint Solutions Company.
In order for a print on demand publishing model to be profitable, automation must be in place. Additionally, print providers should capitalize on any digital investments previously made.
"Unlike commodity printing, digital book production involves specialty printing and finishing that must be well matched and tightly coordinated," says James Tressler, mid-Atlantic regional sales manager and director of branch operations, C.P. Bourg, Inc. He suggests print providers conduct a true return on investment (ROI) evaluation of the operation’s workflow plans before deciding on what equipment to buy and install. "This exercise helps identify the best long-range production strategies and understand how you can easily afford the equipment needed to successfully establish a reputation for quality while adequately addressing marketing currently growing at 130 percent annually," he adds.
It is important to establish a single workflow throughout the entire operation. "That is the best way to get visibility into any gaps, reduce errors, and make the entire process more efficient and cost-effective," notes Chandni Dighe, future products marketing manager, inkjet printing solutions, graphic communications group, Eastman Kodak Company.
Key hardware providers take the initiative in regards to workflow automation in addition to equipment offerings.
Hewlett-Packard (HP) SmartStream Solutions Portfolio includes graphic arts workflow components to help customers create digital printing production solutions to meet a broad range of market segments and application needs, including digital book production. It provides cost-effective workflow management, from job creation to completion, creating powerful workflow solutions that ensure high quality and productivity while decreasing total cost of ownership.
The HP SmartStream Solutions Portfolio is an open environment, which offers customers streamlined productivity, greater flexibility, and the ability to expand into additional market segments.
HP Indigo and Inkjet Web presses optimize publishing print runs of varying lengths. The company supports a variety of components to optimize workflow management from job creation to fulfillment. HP Indigo digital printing solutions offer an attention to image quality, and provide photo-quality reproduction capabilities. The Indigo product line includes both cut-sheet and continuous models. HP Indigo presses utilize patented liquid HP ElectroInk, featuring a small particle size to produce high resolution, high gloss, sharp image edge, and thin image layers.
Additionally, HP offers its inkjet web press, the HP T300 Color Inkjet Web Press series, which was introduced last year. The press uses thermal inkjet technology for high productivity at a breakthrough cost on inkjet-optimized coated and uncoated media. Supporting output up to 30 inches wide at up to 400 feet per minute (fpm), the solution employs modular printheads in ten rows of seven 4.25-inch inkjet printheads.
InfoPrint Solutions Company helps book manufacturers profit from short runs with digital book production. InfoPrint BookFlow is an end-to-end digital book production solution that integrates hardware, software, services, and support. If a digital book solution is in place, InfoPrint works to leverage current investments and seamlessly integrate new capabilities.
The BookFlow solution helps users manage print on demand jobs and connect with customers using Web-to-print solutions and prepare to handle shorter print runs with faster turnaround times and complex setups by automating repetitive tasks. In addition, users produce static and variable data output in monochrome and color for a broad range of applications.
For monochrome document production, InfoPrint offers its 4100 continuous form printer. An image enhancement feature, designed for books, delivers a mix of halftone quality at speeds of up to 230 fpm. The solution allows for true three-up six- by nine-inch printing with a 19-inch printable width and a paper width of 19.5 inches.
The InfoPrint 5000 color printing system is a piezoelectric, drop on demand continuous form inkjet printer, performing at speeds of up to 420 fpm. The solution is ideal for short-run lengths to meet a growing demand for high-quality, customized versioned textbooks with water-based inks that are resistant to fading and smearing as well as support for AFP PostScript or PDF applications flexibility.
InfoPrint also offers cutsheet production solutions, including the C900 color production press, as well as the InfoPrint Pro 907EX/1107EX/1357EX monochrome solution series.
For software, InfoPrint Manager provides the ability to manage and monitor digital print shops from a single point of command. Book-friendly functions include intelligent job routing, workload balancing, datastream transformation, and reprint management. In addition, InfoPrint Manager offers multiple RIP options; multiple line screens; impositioning, and simplified workflow integration with hotfolders, automated job submission, job batching, and job definition format Web-based job ticketing.
InfoPrint ProcessDirector provides a fast and automated scalable workflow solution that is user configurable, or InfoPrint experts are available to assist with setup. It works by plugging modules along with third-party software for manual task automation—resulting in streamlined operations, improved customer service, and error reduction.
InfoPrint Bookflow also integrates key technology partnerships and personalized services to help users create an efficient print on demand business solution. Technology partners include Press-sense iWay and Manager, Ultimate Impostrip Book Stacker, and Ioflex makeready software.
Kodak looks at workflow from a solutions standpoint, offering open architectures that interface with multiple devices. Focused on customer-specific requests, the company collaborates with users to establish rules-based automation for the ability to set certain rules and automate the decision process as much as possible. For example, If a job previously run on offset press needs to be re-imposed for short run production on a digital press.
The company’s Prinergy Unified Workflow solutions are pervasive in the offset book manufacturing world. Through its digital platform, the same workflow is brought into digital book production. The company estimates that over 30 percent of books worldwide are already touched by Kodak technology.
Kodak’s equipment offerings for digital book production include the KODAK PROSPER Press Platform featuring KODAK Stream Inkjet Technology, KODAK Nexpress and Nexpress SE Digital Production Color Presses, and the KODAK DIGIMASTER EX Production Platform.
The KODAK PROSPER Press Platform allows for productivity across a wide range of coated and uncoated commercial print applications. The KODAK PROSPER 5000XL Press for color applications is capable of print quality that rivals offset output up to 175 lines per inch on uncoated, coated, and glossy papers ranging from 45 to 300 grams per square meter or 30 to 200 pound text weight.
The KODAK PROSPER 1000 Press for monochrome applications is an inkjet web press solution that is field upgradable to color and brings unique opportunities for solutions to grow with the customer’s business. The PROSPER 1000 Press drives operational and supply chain savings for short-run books up to run lengths of 7,000 and is available with various finishing solutions.
Ideal for cover applications, Kodak’s NEXPRESS Production Color Presses help book publishers produce consistent color quality while incorporating higher value and margin photo press products into their book publishing operations. Available with the KODAK Fifth Imaging Unit Solution, NEXPRESS Presses also feature Dimensional Printing that allows book printers to add various textures on the book cover to enhance the tactile experience.
The KODAK DIGIMASTER EX Production Platform offers book publishers flexibility with a wide range of system components that integrate seamlessly to produce high-volume B&W books. The inline folding, binding, trimming, and on demand book publishing capabilities give publishers full production power and flexibility to take on an array of applications.
Océ North America offers end-to-end hardware, software, and finishing solutions for digital book production. Several of the company’s printing devices are ideally suited for book production, including the Océ VarioStream 7000, 8000, and 9000 continuous feed digital presses, and the Océ VarioPrint 6000 Ultra cutsheet family. In addition, full color book production is supported by the Océ JetStream inkjet family and color-capable, high-speed monochrome Océ ColorStream Flex system. The Océ VarioStream 7650cx and The Fogra-certified Océ CS665 Pro color production system also offers cutsheet output for book applications.
At this year’s ON DEMAND trade show in Philadelphia, PA, Océ illustrated how its PRISMA software streamlines digital book printing and reprinting. For example, Océ VarioStream 8000 continuous feed digital printers work with Océ PRISMA software powering Océ digital book solutions in a fast and flexible PDF workflow—producing up to 12, 200-page six- by nine-inch book blocks every minute. Océ PRISMAproduction Batch Manager groups jobs based on parameters to improve process efficiency. Customers can gang multiple jobs with the same book format or paper.
The combination of Océ PRISMAweb and Océ PRISMAproduction software automates job submission and management, teamed with new capabilities for simplified book production. Océ PRISMAproduction software receives JDF files containing order information from Océ PRISMAweb software or a customer’s MIS system, and grabs PDF files for book covers and blocks. From there, users can add tracking barcodes to covers and interior pages, group the jobs based on specific parameters, and direct jobs to the desired print device.
The new Océ Automated Book Production Solution makes digital book printing accessible and affordable, even for run lengths of just one book. Through workflow automation, users gain a more hands free, lower cost approach, which translates into fewer errors, less manual handling, greater service consistency, and more accurate monitoring.
Xerox FreeFlow is a suite of products and solutions that combine products, partners, standards, and services to meet the needs of various production environments. The workflow solution supports shorter first runs of books, reprints, and late editions; expands application portfolio, streamlines processes and increases production options; automatic job routing; easy integration of offset color pages with monochrome or digital color pages; and Web-driven job submission.
The Xerox family of digital presses, including the Nuvera Digital Production Press, Highlight Color presses, Nuvera Digital Perfecting System, and the Xerox iGen Digital Production Presses allow for the production on high-quality books.
Xerox also provides a variety of continuous feed options.
Book production, whether traditionally or digitally produced, requires a lot more than speeds and feed. Managing the workflow becomes increasingly important as job frequency spikes and run lengths fall.
For more on digital book production, read part one of our three-part series on the book publishing industry, Book Publishing Evolves. Part two, Strength in Digital, appears in the May/June issue, which hits the streets this week! Part three is scheduled for the July/August issue and focuses on specific book segments and their production requirements. dps
May2010, DPS Magazine