Our regular column building up to drupa (May 6-19, 2004, Düsseldorf) looks at the show's significance for converters

Do you do production-on-demand?

“Drupa is not just the Mecca for print and preprint, it’s also the world’s leading show for converting,” says Peter Berger, head of converting at Stielow. You don’t need to be a fortune teller to predict that digital print companies in particular will be devoting a great deal of attention to postpress at the coming World Market Print Media, Publishing & Converting in Düsseldorf, Germany, in the two weeks between May 6-19. In the world of mini print runs and personalized print products, special converting capabilities are in great demand. After all, what sense do innovative production concepts like printing-on-demand or 1:1 marketing make when the cost advantages are lost during conversion into finished print products? Minimum set-up times, high productivity and supreme reliability are important demands placed on the equipment. In a market that promises customers print runs of only one copy, that copy has to be perfect first time. “Basically we’re talking about production-on-demand,” says Berger. “Ultimately, printing is just one important step in the overall production chain.”

At drupa 2004, vendors will show the impressive advances they have made in automating the converting process – from automatic folders to single sheet gathering and collating machines with linked brochure converting to perfect binding machines with PUR adhesives for producing miniature print runs. And more than ever, equipment is being trimmed for productivity. For example, whereas converting speed in automatic brochure production at the last drupa was an already very presentable 3,000 copies/hour, systems on display at the next event will boast hourly production rates of 5,000 brochures and more – plus even shorter set-up times and improved product quality.

Make or buy? It’s a question digital print firms have to answer. The shorter the runs and the tighter the customer’s deadline, the more converting belongs in the digital print shop – outsourcing the complete converting process is hardly a practicable option. “It’s too expensive to deliver the finished print to an external converter, so most printers will integrate their own converting system,” forecasts Professor Frank Romano, from the Rochester Institute of Technology. So far, however, the solutions available for integrated converting have been of limited flexibility. Here too, there will be interesting innovations on display at drupa 2004. Romano has no doubt: “The secret of success for digital printing lies in integrated converting.” And the hot topic at the coming drupa show will be JDF, which is billed to allow the transfer of all relevant production data from prepress through print to converting.

New things have to be learned, and converting digitally printed documents is no different, as thousands of digital printers have discovered the hard way. To be able to make top quality print products it’s vital to be aware of the special requirements converting poses due to differences in digital printing materials, toners or static charging. Here too, the coming drupa show will be able to lend digital printers a helping hand.

Take advantage of drupa 2004 and get up to speed on converting in digital printing – whether you’re already a digital printer or intend to move into digital printing. No other event in the graphics art world gives you the same opportunity to do so as the forthcoming print and media industry summit, featuring around 1,800 exhibitors in 17 modern halls with nearly 160,000m2 of exhibition space.

Converting Today’s Countdown to drupa – previewing converting exhibitors at the show – continues in the April issue. Make sure you are included by sending details to Mike Taylor, at mtaylor@wilmington.co.uk to arrive by Friday, March 12, 2004.


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drupa 2004