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Rollem cuts the cards for 1st Byte and Moo

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Given the similar features, quality and general reliability of a lot of digital print systems, users are turning to new types of finishing systems to differentiate their offerings to customers. Here we take a look at a pair of innovative companies that have adopted Rollem JetStream card finishing systems to add value to their work. Rollem may not be a particularly familiar name in the digital sector, but that’s apparently because its users tend to keep their ideas to themselves.

1st Byte in London ( is a long-standing specialist in fast turn-round digital print, based on its stable of HP Indigo digital presses, with a Xeikon for larger format work. It actually decided to install a Rollem finishing system following the acquisition of another digital print company, Raging Thunder, in 2007.

Managing director Lawrence Dalton explained: ‘The acquisition resulted in a significant increase in our production of business cards and we needed a more efficient method of cutting them. We looked at what was on the market and bought our first Rollem system, which enables extremely accurate slitting with a very small gutter. This enables us to print 50 cards per A3 sheet, so we reduce wastage and probably save around three hours of guillotine time per day.

‘We’ve since purchased two more systems. We use them all off-line. One is dedicated to slitting work from one customer for whom we print thousands of small cards every day. The second machine is used for slitting other work and the third one is set up for perforating. Their ease of operation means they do not need experienced staff. With the ethos of digital print being fast turnaround, we have always considered it vital to have finishing systems that enable us to achieve the potential of our digital presses, in our case three HP Indigo 5000s and a Xeikon 5000.’

Business cards now account for around 25% of 1st Byte’s business, with the remainder comprising a wide range of commercial work. The last few months of 2009 were dominated by Christmas card production, including some for the Prime Minister.

MOO ( is an on-personalised print sales operation that started with the concept of smaller format personalised ‘MiniCards’ for teenagers, as a more fun version of business cards with a range of different images in the same pack. These proved popular and the company has since added new lines such as conventional business cards, greetings cards, postcards, stickers and accessories such as card holders, frames and envelopes.

It sells entirely online, which it says allows streamlined communication, reduced costs and faster delivery.

The company started in a site that shares a courtyard with 1st Byte in Clerkenwell, and so it used its printing and finishing facilities at first. It set up a US operation in April 2007, with production facilities in Providence, Rhode Island. MOO installed a Rollem Jetstream slitter for use in London in 2007 and has since bought another for the USA.

‘Most of our customers are small businesses or individuals and the way our operation is set up suits this type of client perfectly,’ said Brian Murphy, vice president of operations. ‘With a totally digital workflow – all work is printed on HP Indigo presses – we can receive copy electronically and a job can be printed and despatched very quickly. However, to achieve this we need fast and efficient finishing facilities.

‘One of our most popular products is the MiniCard, a 28 x 70 mm card that we print several to view on an SRA3 sheet. Originally we cut these on a conventional guillotine but, with a full bleed and gutter between each cut, this was a time-consuming task. The Rollem Jetstream has reduced what used to take 40 minutes to around ten minutes,’ he said.

‘All of our MiniCards are laminated at the UK and US sites using an Autobond ( before moving on to the Rollem Jetstream.

Rollem are fantastically built machines and Stuart and his team went to great lengths during our initial conversations to build something that was tailored exactly to our particular needs.’

The pace with which digital print quality has leapt forward in recent years has led print buyers increasingly to demand that this is matched by standards in finishing. Rollem reckons that its rotary slitting wheels give a consistent finish that is generally not attainable from other equipment. A good example is cutting or trimming. If a conventional guillotine is used to cut a stack of paper, the blade may be often forced outwards as it moves down. Slitting wheels don’t give this problem.

Jetstreams, MiniCards