The subject of variable data is highly topical in the graphic arts industry and, in addition to automation and an integrated workflow, is an important component of our Finishing 4.0 development strategy. Today, Variable Data Printing (VDP) goes well beyond simply printing the name of the customer on the product or switching blocks of text. Businesses that have precise knowledge of their customers and their requirements can produce customized print products in a targeted manner.
Nowadays, variable printing is no longer limited to customized flyers, personally addressed direct marketing, personalized annual reports and sensitive transaction printing, where individual text blocks or visual elements are switched. The "PDF in, book out" - slogan also applies to variable data at Muller Martini.
To give you a better idea of what that exactly means, here are three examples of print products currently being manufactured with variable data:
VDP on saddle stitchers
- Travel catalogs: Travel agencies can have customized brochures featuring the preferred destinations of their customers printed – and finished – in runs of one copy.
- Educational materials: Some universities provide books and examination documents tailored to each individual student.
- Photo books: Here each copy can differ from the other. Nevertheless, every photo book must arrive at the customer's in a perfect condition and, above all, with the appropriate cover.
Not only digitally and offset-printed signatures can be combined
on the Presto II Digital and Primera MC Digital saddle stitchers. The systems also make VDP products based on barcode-only control.
DS Graphics in Lowell in the US state of Massachusetts specializes in customized, digitally printed travel brochures with runs of one copy
. The company produces the travel brochures, with the address of the recipient on the back page, at staggered intervals in a bundle, rather than daily. The Asir 3
barcode system not only simplifies production and ensures that the right cover matches the right content but also that the parcels are prepared for routed mailing in the compensating stacker. The barcode that is printed on every signature and cover contains a product ID (which defines the job), a copy ID (which ensures the correct sequence of the signatures) and a bundle ID (for stacking). DS Graphics delivers the customized products, which have been optimally sorted by the various mailing routes, on pallets to customers.
How VDP works on the SigmaLine
The SigmaLine complete solution can also run VDP production with an automated production workflow. With additional modules for digital data printing, the Connex workflow system can be used as specialized VDP printing software to process both static and variable data. Companies that currently produce predominantly in batches (processing of an identical product at a certain volume) will now also be able to produce short and ultra-short runs with the same high quality of page assembly and print finishing.
Products with different content and even a different page count can be produced in one production run with the SigmaLine. The signatures are tracked using barcodes and Connex LineControl Pro monitors the production process, including feedback to a higher-level production system.
Normal PDF data or PDF-VT data (see box) can be processed and imposed. A series is extracted from the VT data and the blank pages are automatically inserted depending on the folded signature selected. Barcodes are placed on every signature during the digital page assembly. The finished PDF sheets can then be sent directly to the printing press.
The Connex system also helps to put the products in sequence so that they can be stacked in a practical way. For example, all a student's books can be produced together. Subsequent time-consuming sorting of the products by hand is no longer necessary.
That was two examples of the possibilities of VDP. However, products in runs of one are also produced today in both the hardcover (booklines of the Muller Martini and Kolbus brands) and softcover segment (perfect binders of the Muller Martini and Kolbus brands). If you are interested in how varied the possibilities now are, then click on this video.
This is how Variable Data Printing VDP works in print finishing.
Did you know?
Here, you can find detailed information on the ISO standard for Variable Data Printing (VDP) applications.
ISO standard PDF/VT
At drupa 2008, Adobe announced the development of its own format for transaction printing. At the same time, however, the company has decided to do this in cooperation with other manufacturers in the industry. For this reason, the format was handed over to the ISO committees. After intense committee work, PDF/VT was released as standard ISO 16612-2 in August 2010. The introduction states: The standard specifies methods for using PDF for the definition and exchange of all content elements and support of metadata required for the printing of variable or transactional document content. It was designed to enable a broad range of VDP applications - from desktop publishing to the print production process. This includes hybrid work processes with conventional and digital printing.
Are you interested in what the Touchless workflow is all about? Read part 4 of our Finishing 4.0 series.
Product Manager Digital Solutions
Muller Martini AG