Page 48 - Print 21 Magazine Sep-Oct 2018
P. 48

Finishing business
Andy McCourt
Adding value to print
Value added is a much over-hyped term in the print business these days but, executed correctly, works towards improving wafer-thin margins from plain printed sheets. Of course, the value-add can include excellent service and prompt delivery, but visible, tangible extras are easier to sell to customers, writes Andy McCourt.
So many times when I have spoken to a printer who is not doing so well, complaining of low profits, thinking of selling or, worse still closing up completely, I look in their finishing department and usually find a guillotine, collator, maybe a perfect binder, saddle stitcher, folders and maybe a paper drill and round-corner cutter. Fancy finishes are, more often than not, outsourced
– if offered at all. While a basic bindery unquestionably adds value to printed sheets, there are many additional ways to boost gross profit margins.
All of the above of course is essential and useful kit, like a mechanic’s shop needs a hoist and compressed air. However, one thing that these de rigueur devices have in common, is that, although they are designed to add value to the printed sheets coming off the presses, if you itemised true guillotine time on your Polar, Wohlenberg, Schneider or Perfecta cutters, customers would say 'what, just for cutting paper?' The same would apply for folding on your trusty Stahl, MBO, GUK, Horizon or Morgana: 'that much just for folding the paper?'
So, the essential finishing processes are often swallowed in overall job estimates and not itemised. Savvy printers will build in true finishing costs but, generally,
customers just expect it to
be done. Perhaps this is
because there is no
physical evidence
of additional value being added. Indeed, one printer who did a lot of A4 kitted binders with tab dividers, told me he actually made more from drilling four holes in the sheets and dividers than on the printed sheets themselves – but had it well hidden. Real value-add should though be loud and proud.
From gold to gloss
Tangible, visible print enhancements can be appreciated as extras, and a fair price allocated to them. Gilding was one of
the original print enhancements, where book block-edges are given a gold look (which is actually bronze powder). Print embellishments are like the 'Do you want fries with that?' little extra question that every McDonalds' employee must ask, unless it is a meal package.
The most elemental way to add tangible value to a printed piece is to laminate, or Cello-glaze it. Book, magazine, catalogue
and brochure covers benefit from being laminated as it enhances appearance (gloss or matte), protects the underlying print and adds body. It is an identifiable embellishment that can be charged for. In folding carton packaging it is often essential.
Laminating equipment manufacturers such as Autobond, D&K, Foliant, GMP,
Billhofer, Tunkers and Komfi supply robust commercial-grade
laminators while in the wide format sector, Seal, Neschen,
Neolt, Flexa and others cope with the wider widths. Lamination can be by either thermal or cold adhesion and must be undertaken with heat, pressure, time and humidity taken into account to prevent de-lamination.
Trade lamination specialist AllKotes recently introduced a striking 3D enhancement technology that is sure to add depth and sparkle to designs for print and packaging jobs. A sample of this appeared inside May-June issue of Print21 magazine.
With the rise of inkjet printing, caution is advised when laminating because often the printed image is still wet under the surface, and heat-laminating can release this as steam, which causes the laminate to have a weak bond to the paper surface. Prints should be totally dry before laminating, but it is worth the wait, as a laminated business card or brochure looks great and commands a higher price.
Coating is an alternative to laminating or Cello-glazing, and has the advantage of being able to selectively spot-coat areas, since it is
a liquid applied by inkjet and then UV cured. Spot UV screen print clear coating can also look stupendous, but is harder to find in all but label finishing lines, and recent digital methods from manufacturers such as MGI (JetVarnish), Duplo (DC-810) and Scodix have eliminated the need to make silk screens.
Laminator manufacturer Autobond has also introduced digital spot-UV coaters that can run in-line or off-line with its laminators, and also offers hot and cold foiling. They are based on Autobond’s sound reputation in laminators, which can feature Heidelberg sheet feeders, there are three sheet sizes up to A1.
Spot UV can deliver fantastic mirror-like appeal to highlight text, logos, patterns and facial features, and is also tactile as it raises the print a little where the varnish
is applied. The raised aspect is so good it is

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