Part 1 of 2
By DPS Staff
Automated cutsheet finishing is a game changer. Not only will it speed up production, but can bring services in house that were previously outsourced as well as expand the possibilities when it comes to applications for clients.
Company of Tomorrow
Founded in 1955 at Frank Gumpert Printing, Ironmark of Annapolis Junction, MD is a full-service print operation offering offset, digital, production inkjet, and wide format printing, in addition to a complete bindery operation. Print isn’t all it is capable of, as with its staff of over 150 members, it also offers creative services, web development, digital marketing, mailing, and logistics.
Since 2014 the company has grown through seven acquisitions. At the end of 2021, it recorded $40 million in annual revenues compared to $11 million in 2010. The company is achieving this growth thanks to smart thinking, adding cutting-edge technology as it fits both its clients and its own needs. With this in mind, Matt Marzullo, president, Ironmark, says the company’s “model is to be the print communications company of tomorrow.”
2010 was the year were it seems cutting-edge technology really entered the forefront of the business. According Marzullo, this was when Ironmark started to develop a technology platform that would continue its growth and better meet customer requests. Part of this included the purchase of its first Horizon system, the StitchLiner 5500, from Standard Finishing Systems in April 2010.
The purchase was in response to a large piece of new business. “We consolidated the printing for a group of publications that had been using three different printers and we also convinced them to move to digital printing. For an efficient workflow, we obviously needed an efficient bindery, and that’s when we acquired our first Horizon StitchLiner,” explains Marzullo.
Standard Finishing worked closely with Ironmark to configure the StitchLiner in just the right way that it could handle the entire suite of publications. Marzullo notes that is probably the number one reason why the business switched to Standard Finishing.
Other reasons were the product—as he notes at the time it could do all of the tasks required for the job—wasn’t overly complex, the user interface was intuitive, and the Ironmark team could really leverage their expertise in running it.
“Instead of doing the traditional multi-step process of folding the signatures and putting them on our saddle stitcher, now we could do it all in one integrated process. With new business, the publications would come in late afternoon, and we printed them overnight for delivery the following morning,” explains Marzullo.
Moving to Next Gen
After the initial StitchLiner had been in a place for a few years, Standard Finishing suggested Ironmark complement the existing system with a next-generation StitchLiner, which would improve productivity further.
However, it took some convincing, because Ironmark didn’t believe them until two years ago when it completed some time studies with Standard Finishing’s help because it was having a hard time finding traditional bindery operators. The studies proved the productivity theory. The result was the install of a StitchLiner Mark III Saddlestitcher with three-tower VAC-L600H Collator in November 2020.
The StitchLiner Mark III combines flat sheet collating, scoring, folding, and saddlestitching through three-knife trimming into a single system. It features an expanded booklet size range, including landscape-size booklets, 12×12-inch calendars, and pocket booklets down to 4.5×3.5 inches. Increased productivity offers up to 6,000 booklets per hour. The StitchLiner Mark III provides a fully automated setup, including stitching head settings and adjusting book thickness at the trimmer, to deliver higher quality booklets with greater efficiency—even for variable stitch length and variable page count booklets.
The StitchLiners aren’t the only products from Horizon on the shop floor. It has operated an AFC-566FG Folder, a BQ-470 Perfect Binder with inline HT-70 Three-Knife Trimmer, a SmartSlitter, a RD-4055DMC Rotary Die Cutter, and a Horizon CRF-362 Creaser/Folder.
Last year, Ironmark traded the SmartSlitter for the RD-4055DMC Rotary Die Cutter. Outfitted with dual magnetic cylinders, the device simultaneously die cuts and creases/scores short-run product from both sides of the sheet. In addition to die cutting and creasing/scoring, it can also perforate, slit, hole punch, and round corner in one process for digital and offset printed sheets.
Top attractive features include crack-free creasing, reduced costs, and the ability to process a wide range of applications. The RD-4055DMC allows the operator to run male and female dies simultaneously for clean, sharp creases without cracking or slitting. A Repeat Register function allows multiple-up applications from a single-up die to minimize costs.
The RD-4055DMC handles complex creasing patterns and light packaging applications with ease. Ideal for greeting/note cards; playing cards; coasters; door hangers; coupons and tickets; boxes and packaging; stickers—pressure sensitive, gum back, and static; bottle and merchandise labels; pocket folders; and unique mailers.
While the SmartSlitter was well loved, the die cutter expanded Ironmark’s range of capabilities to fit specific custom needs—for example rounded corners on business cards. The purchase of the die cutter also allowed it to bring almost all of its bindery work back in house.
Ironmark trusts Standard Finishing when it comes to enhanced productivity in its finishing department. “Our total configuration today has allowed us to develop a workflow where everything just flows through, is repeated, and has enabled us to process many more orders per day,” concludes Marzullo.
Next up in this series on finishing solutions is a look at a nearline configuration. Operating a Konica Minolta AccurioJet KM-1 B2+ UV inkjet printer, Netherlands-based Sidekix knew it needed automation on the finishing end of the operation to boost production times. In response, it turned to the Tecnau Stack 1212 B2 sheetfed cut and stack solution.
Mar2022, DPS Magazine