Kodak Nexfinity digital press at Grammlich

Sets a new standard in short-run book production for buch.one

Daniel Grammlich and his cousin Regine Grammlich standing in front of the Kodak Nexfinity digital press. Photo Kodak

Offset printer Karl Grammlich of Pliezhausen in southwest Germany specializes in the production of high-quality books. The family-owned firm, led by the third generation of leaders Regine Grammlich and her cousin Daniel, will be celebrating its 75 anniversary this year.

A passion for books

The printer’s 40 employees, including five trainees, produce exclusive, upmarket books in large-format sheetfed offset (up to 164 x 121 cm) for German and international publishers (40% and 60% respectively). Several decades of expertize are reflected in digital printing services launched in 2016 for made-to-measure books in short runs with a variety of paper, binding and enhancement options. Grammlich markets these services via the online portal buch.one. Apart from publishers and book designers, the digital service’s client base is comprised of marketing departments, museums, institutions, resellers and private individuals.

Ever since buch.one launched, two digital printing systems were used for digital book production. “For us, the ability to offer made-to-measure – and frequently lavish – books with custom options in small to medium volumes goes hand in hand with a commitment not just to diversity but also to lead with premium quality. That’s why it’s imperative that we stay permanently at the cutting edge of technology,” the company’s management explains. The consequence was the replacement of the previously used digital printing technology with a Kodak Nexfinity digital press, which went into operation at the beginning of 2022.

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Exquisite digital production technology for exquisite short-run books

Grammlich has been a Kodak customer for many years now and utilizes a large-format Kodak Magnus Platesetter with MCU automation as well as Kodak Prinergy Workflow and Kodak Trillian SP Plates. As they were looking to take the next step in digital printing technology, the investment in the Nexfinity digital press was by no means a foregone conclusion. On the contrary, the two managing directors were, for a while, toying with the idea of an inkjet press instead. Several different currently available presses – both inkjet and toner – were therefore subjected to close scrutiny by one of their employees who has vast knowledge and experience in digital print. They also had test prints of their own files made on a number of digital press models. Daniel Grammlich’s verdict was clear, “Although we’re in no doubt that the future lies in inkjet, the sheetfed inkjet presses on offer right now weren’t entirely convincing. The proof is in the details. And we ruled out alternative toner printing systems because either they don’t support the sheet formats we need for thread-stitched books or the print quality was inferior.” Regine Grammlich adds, “We eventually opted for the Nexfinity press as, in our opinion, it’s the best press in the market, which also won us over with its low printing costs and wide selection of substrates.”

Technology with added value

Grammlich chose the Nexfinity digital press in the ultra configuration, featuring an imaging system that works with 1200 x 1200 dpi. The exceptional quality is principally due to the color depth of up to 8 bit for 256 levels of exposure at this higher resolution. The Nexfinity digital press is equipped with a long sheet feeder for a maximum sheet length of one meter, which Grammlich will use first and foremost for dust jackets and soft covers with flaps. In addition to Light Black Kodak HD dry ink, which ships with the fifth Nexfinity imaging unit as standard, the book printer also came down in favor of the opaque white dry ink as well as the clear dry ink. “Graphic artists and book designers love white because they can use it to achieve special design effects. And we were more impressed by Kodak’s white than was the case with solutions from other suppliers. You can’t get whiter than that,” Grammlich comments.

As well as printing orders for books received via the online store buch.one, the Nexfinity digital press will also be used for book samples and advance copies where the main runs will later be produced in offset. The first few runs have confirmed Daniel Grammlich’s feeling that the quality of the results is “worlds apart” from anything else his company has come up with to date using digital technology. “The Nexfinity press delivers a quality that we have to work hard to achieve and maintain in sheetfed offset,” he observes, and his cousin Regine remarks in conclusion that, “Thanks to opaque white and clear coating, we’re now in a position to offer new digital options, reduce our delivery times through higher productivity, and excite our customers more than ever with Nexfinity press’s outstanding print quality.”

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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