News & Events

In-line, Near-line/Off-line

There are many options for binding books and booklets, and a little sorting out is in order. First, there’s the issue of in-line, on-line, near-line, and off-line.  I must admit, I was corrected a number of times when referring to “on-line” binding options!  So, let’s drop that one and clarify the use of the other terms.

Article was written by Gail Nickel-Kailing




There are really two ways of looking at in-line finishing.  First, you may consider in-line binding and finishing to be part of a complete end-to-end solution.  A roll of paper is wheeled up to one end of a massive piece of equipment and out the other end comes a finished booklet.  Second, “in-line” may refer to the finishing portion of the process rather than the entire production process.  In that case, collating, perfect binding, scoring, cutting, and drilling can be performed by a variety of machines running in one continuous process – in-line, as it were.  Regardless, in-line implies the entire production process – or a key portion of it – is fully automated, and work progresses from one process to the next without human intervention.




Almost all of the binding and finishing equipment can be run as free-standing units either fed manually or by conveyors or automated loaders of some sort.  The operative word here is “off” – there is a pause in the process and work in progress is moved to another process.  “Near-line” is infers that the distance between the pieces of equipment are fairly close together.  Andy Fetherman, Manager – On Demand Solutions Division, at Müller Martini clarified it for me: “Near-line has an automated set-up process, with an off-line process you will have to do much more make ready.”  Why would one choose one process over another? If the production operation is consistent enough – that is, the size and shape of the books/booklets being produced remain the same – inline is a very effective production process.  All of the modules in the system must run at the same speed to be most efficient.  An offline operation is preferable when there is a variety of sizes and shapes involved, or when one or more of the modules run at vastly different speeds.

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