How To Choose In-Line or Off-Line Web Finishing

Printers and converters often wonder what the best course of production is when evaluating inline vs. offline finishing. The answer is dependent on the parameters, priorities, and goals of the job.

Assessing Your Finishing Job Parameters and Priorities

Production printers must ask themselves what the primary goals of the job are, whether looking to save time, money, or labor. Many printers want endless customization and flexibility, while other jobs prioritize streamlined processes. Maximizing workflow is important from printing to finishing, and the best way to conquer the finishing aspect is a common question.

Offline, Near Line, and Inline: What Do They Mean?

Digital presses have been short-run in nature, which requires careful consideration when choosing the finishing process. Printers are facing faster turnaround times with short run lengths and diverse job requirements. Based on the parameters of the job, the priorities, and goals of the printer, the best finishing method becomes more apparent with an understanding of the different finishing options:

      • Offline finishing – the finishing equipment is separate from the printing press, with no communication between the two types of equipment.
      • Near line finishing – this is similar to offline with separate finishing modules, although the option exists to set up the jobs for inline finishing as desired.
      • Inline finishing – the finishing equipment is connected directly to the printing press for seamless completion of the job from printing to the finished document.

There are pros and cons to each finishing method.

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Offline and Near Line Finishing

Offline and near-line finishing are common as many printers have been using off-line finishing equipment for many years, and it still works to provide adaptability, allowing different sheet sizes and formats for short-run jobs. Some of the pros of off-line finishing include:

        • Flexibility – offline finishing allows several size and formatting changes for efficient production of short-run jobs, making this a good choice if processing the work of several different presses is required.
        • Adaptable – offline and nearline finishing equipment provides the capability and capacity for future finishing projects.
        • Prevents printing stoppages – this is one reason printers stick to off-line finishing because it’s what they are used to, and there is no possibility of a stoppage from a device downstream. This is not as much of a concern today with the high technology involved with in-line finishing equipment, although when decoupling a finishing system from a digital press is required, that takes up valuable time.

In-Line Finishing

In-line finishing provides many benefits when size changes are minimal or when running a fixed format size. When the number of touches to the product and labor is an issue, in-line finishing is the way to go. In-line provides many benefits when considering the following:

          • The number of touches and product flow – in lean manufacturing, the number of touches and product flow is critical for efficient production. Printers and converters often underestimate the time and movement involved in moving work from press to finishing. In-line finishing eliminates the need for moving and staging products from one workstation to another.
          • Reduces labor – in-line finishing provides efficient work processes with one person to run a finishing line as opposed to two separate stations, which requires double the labor.
          • Security – if producing sensitive booklets or projects, the fewer touches to the work, the better.
          • Quality – one streamlined movement eliminates the opportunity for work to get out of order when moving through different devices. In-line finishing provides improved flow and tracking of products.

         

Speaking with an experienced finishing equipment provider is the best way to determine whether in-line or offline finishing is best for your project.

Tamarack® Offers In-Line and Off-Line Finishing Equipment and Support

Tamarack® Products is recognized worldwide as a leading global manufacturer of specialized equipment for the business form, label, and packaging industries. Tamarack® offers in-line window patching and film equipment, web finishing equipment, RFID inlay insertion systems, and more. The Vista® Window Patcher provides solutions to efficiently affix rigid windows, susceptor patches, liners, and more for specialty cartons to both short-run and high-volume jobs.

Tamarack® Products offers more than 50 years of experience in designing, engineering, and manufacturing specialty finishing equipment. We differ from other equipment suppliers in our technical expertise and ability to customize machinery and equipment for modular and scalable finishing solutions. Contact us with any questions and for assistance in choosing in-line or off-line finishing equipment.