Book Business Extra Q&A: Muller Martini’s Andy Fetherman on Why 2007 Will Be a Transitional Year for Digital Printing
Digital printers are starting to develop different models to help it fit more into a traditional book [manufacturing model]. They just have to do it. The ability to print 500 at a time—100 lots of 500 vs. one lot of 50,000. They’re getting pressure from publishers to do that. The technology is ready right now.
What did it take to convince printers and publishers that this is a viable option for them?
Fetherman: Technology is getting better and better on a monthly basis, mainly print technology. That’s the one thing that’s been holding down this migration. Even half-tones on some of these print engines are pretty damn good. They’re not offset-quality yet, let’s be realistic. They’re good enough. The benefits you’re gaining are outweighing the slight degradation in quality—the key word there is slight …
Publishers have said it’s not 100 percent, but it’s close enough.
What are the latest book printing technologies you’ll have on display at your March 7 open house with Nipson America that are unlike anything else on the market?
Fetherman: You’re starting with a roll of paper and finish with a trim book at speeds of up to 1,000 books an hour. That’s the exciting part of it. Inline has made a lot of inroads with people. High speed used to mean lower quality. That’s not the case now. With the SigmaBinder for example, we have a measuring station at the in feet of the binder. That measuring station is the brains of the whole operation for finishing. It measures the book with lasers, measures the length and width of the book—it captures that information digitally. There’s no make ready in the binder. Say the printer is down for maintenance. … You can hand-feed those books because the binder is nondiscriminatory. … That’s what we’re really going to tout.