Finishing refers to operations that are performed after the ink has been applied to the paper.
Everywhere you look, you see printed material: your mailbox, the bookstore, the grocery store, programs at the ballgames, medical prescriptions and even your new computer and phone that has printed material inside the box. And everyone one of those pieces has some sort of finishing done to it. Finishing can range from simple cutting, like a standard postcard, folding for an instruction sheet, stitching for the latest magazine, perfect binding for the latest paperback book you are reading or diecutting for any dimensional box like cereal boxes, milk cartons or any type of box that holds a product.
Each one of these processes has its own specialty equipment needed to produce the final piece. And they will range in size based on volume. Time magazine has a circulation of 3.3 million and it uses the same basic type of finishing equipment that an average commercial printer uses to produce a sales brochure for a local company that only needs 2,500.
A paperback book that you see at your local bookstore is put together on a machine that is 100 feet long with 26 “pockets”, an automatic cover feeder, and a 3 knife trimmer. When it comes out at the end, it is completely finished and ready to read.
So when you're putting together your next print piece, remember finishing. Does it need to be stapled or bound? Cut into a special shape or size? Perhaps you'd like the paper to look shiny, or perhaps a more dull finish. Does it need to be folded or assembled? Don't forget the all important "finishing touch".