By Melissa Donovan
Books are a target digital application, both print wise and on the bindery side. However, the digital aspect of the print and finishing processes differ, according to David Spiel, co-owner, Spiel Associates, Inc. “Everyone loves the word ‘digital.’ But what digital means in bindery is digital set up. Binding is a mechanical process and can never be as digital as prepress programs or digital engines. The goal here is to minimize set up time and offer a process that can be accomplished by low-skill workers,” he continues.
From photobooks to textbooks, each application type requires some form of binding. Trends in automated hardware respond to the increased demand for one offs and short, limited publication runs. In all cases, efficiency and reduced error are key focuses.
There are a number of methods to bind a book including thread, glue, staples, and plastic. For example, a spiral bound book, which is referred to as comb binding, utilizes a plastic coil or double loop wire.
A general outline of what goes into a perfect bound book is provided by Don Dubuque, director of marketing, Standard Finishing Systems. A soft cover is wrapped around a book block and then the cover and book block are bound together on the spine with an adhesive. Prior to binding the two components together, the book block is milled or roughed to expose paper fibers and then notched to create cavities in the spine that will trap the adhesive for a better bind.
He also shares the process of saddle stitching, which involves printed and folded sheets gathered or collated, one inside the other and then stitched or stapled with wire staples through the center line.
Case binding combines either perfect bound or saddle stitching. “It is the most expensive because books need to be perfect bound or sewn prior to being cased in and cases need to be manufactured,” explains Spiel.
Latest Trends and Influences
Book binding solutions are somewhat at the mercy of print technology—adapting and evolving as it advances. If a press’ speed increases, so too must a piece of finishing hardware. The phrase keeping up with the Jones takes on a whole new meaning.
New features found on book binding equipment address the need for more automation. For example, verification of data while a job is in the process of running through a device is increasingly important.
“Guaranteed page and cover match through the use of bar codes and optical character recognition (OCR) are becoming common,” shares James Kaeli, business development, hardcover systems, Muller Martini Corp.
Dubuque says this type of double-check—including bar codes and OCR in addition to cameras—is more popular in transactional, financial, and healthcare environments. “These customers need to be able to track and verify jobs at all stages of production,” he explains.
“One of the latest hardware trends in automated bookbinding is job programming via a PC. This technology has proven to be very important for operators to improve the overall efficiency,” continues Anthony Gandara, product manager, Duplo USA.
Incorporating bindery inline is another commonality seen in print and bindery shops. “The process is becoming more popular as run lengths continue to diminish and publishers no longer want to order large quantities,” admits Steve Kukla, U.S. sales and support manager, Magnum Digital Solutions.
Bindery machines must adjust to runs as low as one-off as personalized books and self publishing become popular. These influences are continued by consumer pressure, according to Muller Martini’s Kaeli. “This is facilitated by the Internet to deliver what they want, when they want, and as quickly as they want,” he continues.
A representative from On Demand Machinery says one-off runs have become a reality, which leads to different demands on operation. Machines that automatically adjust are necessary to make run lengths as low as one profitable.
Lance Martin, director of sales, MBO America, points to variable formats as a cutting edge trend. “Forward thinking print and bindery operations incorporate different degrees of variable-capable finishing solutions,” he says.
Martin provides an example of an MBO customer that produces aviation manuals for an aeronautic regulatory agency. The content includes data on both arriving and departing flights, which is essential for air traffic controllers. Each week this information is revised from information gathered from pilots representing 46 airlines and any new regulations put into action by the appropriate governing body.
“The extent of these revisions is unpredictable in quantity, importance, and format—which means the booklets are in a near constant state of change from week to week. Even so, they must be delivered in time to meet the strictest deadlines,” he explains.
To address these challenges, the customer purchased a digital web finishing line from MBO with selective folding technology. This feature allows the customer to cut different sheet lengths while the folder identifies and redirects sheets to the appropriate fold path. Manuals are printed in sequence with two different signatures to deal with the variability aspect.
Standard Finishing’s Dubuque shares that most of today’s automated finishing devices do not support variable formats for batch processing, however it is becoming more common. Intelligent automation built into newer solutions lends itself to supporting variable formats for batch processing.
Less Waste in Less Time
Today’s book finishing hardware must be equipped with the correct tools to maximize efficiency and minimize waste. “Any mistake in book finishing can be very expensive, which leads to the critical importance of highly accurate, precision engineering book finishing solutions, where zero makeready is the goal,” adds Dubuque. New hardware is manufactured to address continuing trends of one-off books and variable formats for batch processing. dps
Sep2014, DPS Magazine