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ADHESIVE BINDERS -- Perfect Fit

October 2002
BY MARK SMITH


Adhesive binding has long been a benchmark of quality for finishing, but equipment costs and setup times traditionally had kept the process in the realm of long-run and/or higher end projects. The prevailing trend now in "perfect" binding systems is increasing their flexibility to handle shorter runs. This is true for all levels of equipment, but particularly for the relatively new product category of units designed to work in conjunction with digital printing systems.

A related trend is the industry's move to computer integrated manufacturing (CIM) that is trickling down to postpress operations in general. Unlike prepress and printing, though, digital advances in bindery and finishing equipment are basically just interface enhancements to processes that, at their heart, remain unchanged.

"Everyone talks about the electronic bindery and pushbutton operation, but you can't digitize a mechanical process," points out David Spiel, co-owner of Spiel Associates in Long Island City, NY. "You can streamline the process a bit, however."

Buyers of perfect binders today definitely want systems that reduce makeready time, says Kerry F. Burroughs, manager of the Perfect Binding Div. at Muller Martini in Hauppauge, NY. "Every prospect we talk to doesn't ask about run speed, but does ask: 'How fast are the makereadies?' Their customers are bringing in shorter runs, so they need equipment that can be adapted quickly from job to job," Burroughs explains. "Muller Martini is responding with systems that feature menu-guided make-readies—like our Tigra binder."

While shorter runs head the list, there are other developments impacting the market, points out Mark Hunt, director of marketing at Standard Finishing Systems in Andover, MA. "The major trends affecting perfect binding are shorter run lengths, faster turnaround times, a lack of highly skilled operators and customer demand for superior book quality—regardless of run length," Hunt explains. "To address these challenges, shops need commercial-grade perfect binders that are highly automated for quick setups and changeovers, easy to learn/ operate, and that produce quality books at an affordable cost."

Quality is a relative term, though, since perfect-bound books never look as classy as case bound books, says David Spiel of Spiel Associates. There are very definite points of distinction within the adhesive binding segment itself, he adds. "Some of the less expensive perfect binders just notch the book block. Since only those areas get good glue penetration, the books can fall apart with heavy use. You need full milling and notching to get a strong book.
 

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