In-line or Off-line? The Great Debate
Well, maybe not a “great” debate but it’s certainly worthy of discussion. Yes, there are indeed occasions where in-line does make sense but a rock-solid case can be made for the majority of digital print installs where it absolutely can be shown that, long term, off-line booklet production is possibly a better and more profitable option. A little bit of math will prove this to be true. Shown below is a pro and con breakdown for each method.
- Lower quality, less robust equipment.
- Narrower specification/capability range. No latitude to do custom sizes.
- Often does not provide the occasionally needed head and foot trims. Usually face trim only.
- Booklet maker can on occasion slow down the print engine. Speeds can be out of sync.
- 8.5” x 5.5” booklets? Not uncommon. That means printing on an 8.5”x11” sheet rather than two-up on a 12”x18” which almost always means two click charges versus just one.
- When your engine is broken, so is your booklet maker. One down means both are down.
- More often than not, the booklet maker is being tossed every five years along with the engine. That’s a waste of money.
- Often times are charged a ridiculous contract fee for maintenance. You’re either being fleeced on that matter or it’s proof of a weak product. Or both.
- Higher quality, more robust equipment. Generally better quality output.
- A complete and full range of specs are available to you! No constraints.
- Three-side trimming can be accomplished on most every system!
- No speed conflicts between a connected printer and booklet maker. This allows max production speeds on both units.
- No issues when running different or smaller size booklets in regards to print clicks.
- Built better and intended for a longer life! No reason to not expect 15+ years out of an off-line solution which equals the life of at least three print engines. Considering this solution can sometimes support the output of two print engines, the case can be made that it could possibly equal the life of up to six print engines! In other words…..quit throwing out your booklet maker every five years! It’s a waste of money!
- Far more flexibility! Insert envelopes? Run offset work as well as digital? Two-up work with four stitch heads? Loop stitching? Insert loose sheets? Covers with gates/wings? All things that can potentially be done on an off-line system but NOT on an in-line system.
- Quit paying ridiculous monthly maintenance fees. There are no required contracts for off-line solutions!
- A complete second step which equals more labor.
- Initial cost outlay is likely going to be greater.
While there’s nothing revolutionary or new about the off-line option for booklet making, it is often times an overlooked option that is at least worthy of consideration in terms of the long term profitability of your shop’s booklet work. Long term profitability? That’s the future of print!