“We installed SigmaLine #1 in 2011 with the expectation of handling the majority of our short-run book production”, says Webcrafters’ Executive Vice President & Chief Operations Officer. “As run lengths continued to decrease, we needed more digital capacity to handle all this increasing demand for digital print. That led us to install SigmaLine #2. Line #2 is initially running between 20 and 35% faster than line #1 since day one. However, Muller Martini offers us upgrades for SigmaLine #1, which increase performance.”
Speaking about Webcrafters’ digital system, John Filsinger is full of praise for the complete solution from Muller Martini for digital book production. “We’re very excited about the capabilities of our second SigmaLine, particularly since it’s able to keep up with the full operating speeds of the Kodak Prosper 5000XLi high-speed digital inkjet press. We believe our uptime percentage is going to continue to improve dramatically with the addition of the all-new system design of the SigmaFolder II platform. It has some significant new features including a straight horizontal paper path, which provides excellent control of lightweight stocks. Muller Martini is also working with us on some special variable data printing (VDP) capabilities. One of the most impressive aspects of SigmaLine is its scalability, which enables it to accommodate wider and faster print engine technology if we need it to.”
It should be noted that the Prosper 5000XLi has a print width of up to 24.5 inches at speeds of up to 650 feet per minute. So Webcrafters needed technology that could keep up with these press speeds with four-color printing on lightweight, coated stocks. That was one of the main reasons why pairing it with Muller Martini’s SigmaLine book manufacturing system made good business sense.
John Filsinger (right), Executive Vice President & Chief Operations Officer, speaking about Webcrafters’ digital system: “We’re very excited about the capabilities of our second Muller Martini SigmaLine, particularly since it’s able to keep up with the full operating speeds of the Kodak Prosper 5000XLi high-speed digital inkjet press». Left: Eric Olsen, Sales Manager at Muller Martini North America.
Education Sector First
Webcrafters, which was established 145 years ago, predominantly produces books in English and Spanish for schools and universities throughout the US and export markets, using its two high-performance in-line systems – the three-year old SigmaLine is likewise connected with an inkjet digital printing press, the Kodak Prosper 5000XL. “We’re probably the preeminent ‘teachers’ book’ manufacturer in the country,” says Filsinger.
The books tend to average around 600 pages/title and are frequently published for multiple grades at the same time and are spiral bound, case bound, saddle stitched (for which Webcrafters in Madison uses a Primera, a SH300 and two SH 235 machines from Muller Martini) or perfect bound (using four Normbinders from Muller Martini).
Digital printing has made huge bounds in the education sector, in particular, in recent years, says Filsinger. There are three key reasons for that. First, the increasingly short time windows from when titles are released before the start of the new semester or school year, which are compensated for by the higher speeds of the digital printing presses without the make-ready aspect of conventional offset printing. Second, the constantly improving printing quality of digital printing presses. And third, the goal of publishers to reduce inventory obsolescence and print only what is needed. A seamless workflow is crucial to digital printing. The higher the degree of automation in print finishing, the more attractive digital in-line systems become.”