While it’s nothing new, the pandemic has certainly accelerated a few trends impacting commercial printers of all shapes and sizes. One being issues such as productivity, efficiency, and speed are all more critical than ever before.
The B2 size won’t be unfamiliar to most commercial printers used to running offset equipment. Until recent years, digital presses were limited to the smaller SRA3 format, limiting the usefulness of the platform, or requiring you to rework how jobs are imposed to fit them onto the smaller sheet size. This delay in time and money in many cases outweighed the benefits of a digital press, such as personalisation or shorter runs.
With the rise of B2 digital presses, now the vast majority of work a commercial printer is producing on offset equipment can be easily moved, so those benefits are suddenly much more attractive. One of the roadblocks that was still holding many back from adopting, was the lack of corresponding B2 finishing options for these new presses. That has now changed, with Duplo introducing a some new, highly automated, digital finishing options in the B2 format allowing upgrades to efficiency and productivity across the entire operation for the first time. So far this comes in form of a B2 digital cutting table, a B2 cutter creaser system and B2 spot UV.
B2 digital presses are gaining in popularity as applications can be easily shifted from offset to digital, these new options include:
- Books, brochures, and catalogues
- Oversized direct mail pieces
- Posters and calendars
- Pocket folders
- On demand packaging
- Custom shaped cards, postcards, and more
- Signage and floor graphics
- Prototyping and sample production
And these are just a few of the application types — when B2 digital finishing is added to the mix, the possibilities only grow from there.
But Is It Right for You?
All that said, is investing in B2 equipment right for your business in 2022 and beyond? Here are a few things to consider before answering that question.
How important is flexibility with run lengths and turn-around times?
If you are still producing longer run jobs, with a decent amount of time to produce each one in the schedule, then B2 might not be the investment for you right now. However, if your run lengths are shrinking right alongside your turn-around times, then a B2 digital press with B2 finishing could be the solution you need to keep productivity high and costs low with new levels of flexibility.
How important is personalisation?
Is your business still focusing on more traditional print jobs or are you seeing an increase in requests for more personalised or targeted content? One of digital’s strongest benefits is the ability to print a run of hundreds, or hundreds of jobs of one, with no difference to speed or productivity either way. And with the addition of digital finishing to match the press size and speed, jobs can get even more individual. But it is up to you to decide if that is something your business can benefit from or not.
How important is automation?
One of the ways many print providers are trying to reduce costs is by reducing touchpoints in the life of a job. And to do that, automation has become a much bigger consideration than ever before. B2 digital presses bring a lot more options for automated workflows to the table versus traditional B2 offset presses, so if automation is something you’re thinking about, this is a platform worth considering.
Are costs a rising priority?
By using the B2 press format to achieve more items per sheet will reduce the cost. But in turn, this creates bottle necks if you don’t also have B2 finishing. Taking one step forward and you may find a backward step and increased costs in another area of the business. If you look holistically at the complete workflow and create a seamless process from print to finishing, both in B2 format you will maximise productivity, reducing cost and resource per item.
Are you looking to expand into new vertical markets?
This will impact how useful a B2 digital platform will be for your business. While offset excels in what it does, digital can be far more versatile. Print providers that simply need to increase capacity for the current operations might not see a high value in adding digital to the mix, but those looking to expand in other directions might find B2 digital presses to be an invaluable tool in opening up those new spaces profitably.
Adding B2 digital presses and finishing equipment can be a fantastic investment for a print provider looking to evolve and grow in new directions. Especially in the unprecedented times we live in, the added flexibility and lower costs can make all the difference.