CMD Insight Ltd.
Why has Digital stopped at finishing ?
Digital pre-press and digital printing has been around for 40 years or more and it really started to take shape when Benny Landa founded Indigo Digital Printing in 1977. At the 1993 IPEX his company launched the E-Print 1000 that was the world’s first digital colour printing press. Bypassing the printing plate setup process eliminated numerous costly and time-consuming steps associated with offset printing. It enabled printing from a computer file directly onto paper and launched short-run, on-demand and variable data printing into the market place. Landa sold Indigo Digital Printing to Hewlett-Packard in 2002 and digital printing has grown year on year since. All this is history, so what does the future hold for digital finishing?
Digital Converting or Digital Die(less) Laser Cutting
There are a number of reasons why digital has not penetrated the finishing area at equal speed or in equal measure. In fact the first production laser cutting machine were used 50 years ago to drill holes in diamond dies. This machine was made by the Western Electric Engineering Research Centre. In 1967, the British pioneered laser-assisted oxygen jet cutting for metals. In the early 1970s, this technology was put into production to cut titanium for aerospace applications. At the same time CO2 lasers were adapted to cut non-metals, such as textiles, because CO2 lasers were not yet powerful enough to overcome the thermal conductivity of metals. Today CO2 lasers are small, powerful, scalable, flexible and affordable and are used in industries including the printing, paper, corrugated packaging and label industry.
Why Laser Die(less) ?
Digital laser die cutting, or converting, is a process in which a focused laser beam is directed to cut, kiss-cut, score perforate, score, or etch patterns into paper and board in accordance with the specifications of a vector (or jpg, gif, bmp) file. High processing speeds can be accomplished by optimizing the pattern’s cutting path. Registration marks such as bar codes are used to communicated cutting patterns. The advantages of a non-contact digitally controlled laser cutting system for short runs are no waste and instant change-over.