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ADHESIVE BINDERS -- Short and Sweet

September 2001
BY ERIK CAGLE


If it is September, this must be Chicago. Change is in the air, and where else but the Windy City is more apropos for taking a reading of this change?

It is a special year for the graphic arts industry, as it seems to be in transition. Layoffs have rocked many of the big printers as a swooning economy has touched all. Manufacturers are crossing their fingers in the hope that PRINT 01 is successful; some have gone as far to call this a "make-or-break" show in light of some poorly attended trade shows this year. Manufacturers, suppliers, printers, trade finishers, publishers—each propping up one another, hoping there is sustainable strength all along the partnership chain. More than ever, equipment manufacturers are listening to printers, gauging their needs and, ultimately, the needs of print buyers.

This holds true in the bindery, where the adhesive binding segment is as competitive as it is particular, and value-adding auxiliary enhancements can "make or break" your customers' product.

Kerry Burroughs, manager of the perfect binding division of Muller Martini, states that shorter runs are influencing the manufacture of floor-model machines, as is the still-tight skilled labor market.

"Because of this problem, equipment must be manufactured with more automation and motorized makeready, with on-the-fly adjustments to reduce expense and increase production," Burroughs remarks.

The 5,000 cph Acoro from Muller Martini now has touchscreen technology for data input. The Acoro features 20-plus servo motors with the ability to make more than 33 automatic size adjustments. It also boasts a makeready time of less than 90 seconds, sans the cumbersome trial and error settings.

Time Saver
Burroughs adds that auxiliary equipment such as the in-line Universal stacker, endsheet tipper and book block feeders, allow users to fully automate the process in order to produce books without off-line operations that eat up production time, require more personnel and are more difficult to schedule. PUR and cold glue pots enable the production of stronger and more flexible (lay flat) books, and help when using recycled papers.

When it comes to the digital world, users require in-line and near-line finishing equipment, according to Steven Calov, product manager for Heidelberg (USA) Finishing. The Heidelberg Digimaster has been equipped with an in-line perfect binding solution for the digital market. For near-line applications,

Heidelberg Finishing has developed the Bindexpert for hot glue, as well as dispersion glue, perfect binding.

Bindexpert is an off-line perfect binder that offers the flexibility of hot-melt binding, as well as dispersion binding. Thus, the Bindexpert covers a wide range of perfect binding applications due to the ability to bind various types of paper. Easy operation and few device adjustments allow high flexibility and easy setup.

Bindexpert binds main U.S. and European paper sizes (clamping station) from 4.13x5.82˝ (105x148mm) up to 12.58x17˝ (320x432mm). Calov adds that Bindexpert is targeted towards black-and-white and color digital printing markets, as well as small-format offset printing markets.

Jose Alvarez, marketing coordinator for Duplo U.S.A., points out that binders traditionally have been difficult to use and relatively expensive, but that is no longer the case. Demand for single sheet binding has become more popular than signature, and unskilled operators are capable of working the equipment. Automated perfect binders, he notes, are the benchmark for today's printers.

"Developments such as automation, ease of use, quick setup and changeover have enhanced the value of perfect binders," Alvarez points out. "Because printers are constantly printing short runs with more jobs, they will need perfect binders that are equipped for short-run work, which demands quick setup and changeover."

Duplo offers the MR-500, which is designed specifically for short to medium runs, and the single-operator, single-clamp design allows output of up to 600 books per hour. The automated perfect binder enables operators to simply place flat sheets or signatures into the loading station.

Safety photo-beams act as a safety guard and stop the machine instantly in case of accidental contact with the machine's operations.

Heidelberg Web Systems' high-volume bindery customers are seeking a combination of high-speed productivity and increased product personalization, according to Greg Norris, marketing communications manager. He feels customers don't want to sacrifice productivity speed in order to personalize their adhesive-bound magazines and catalogs.

Heidelberg Web's Universal binder line of binders run at up to 20,000 books per hour and feature independent hoppers and advanced control systems for extensive selective binding capabilities.

"Finding qualified operators is a critical issue in the pressroom and in the bindery," Norris says. "Therefore, we continue to emphasize automation and ease of use in our bindery technology. While we have made the capabilities of our Universal binders more advanced, we have also made these systems easier to operate. Heidelberg has continuously improved the control system architecture for its Universal binder family of perfect binders to make troubleshooting, expansion and integration of auxiliary equipment easier. We've also implemented an enhanced makeready system that allows on-the-fly adjustments."

Norris adds that the demand for selective binding and ink-jet messaging continues to increase because this type of product personalization adds significant value to the printed product. "Product personalization—like print quality, timeliness and cost-effectiveness—is a key ingredient printers can use to make print more attractive to advertisers and readers, and more competitive with other media," he points out.

Mark Hunt, director of marketing for Standard Finishing Systems, notes that perfect binding technology is being driven by shorter runs and the need to make equipment that is quick, easy and reliable to set up and changeover.

"Those trends led to the development of highly automated in-line binders for Xerox class printers, like the Standard Horizon BQ-340 that adjusts dynamically for different book thicknesses, and there have been incremental advancements in multiple clamp binders," he says.

Standard Finishing debuted the new Standard Horizon CABS 5000 computer-aided binding system at PRINT 01. With a higher level of automation for the 5,000 books-per-hour class, the CABS 5000 employs innovative, error-free setup techniques.

The CABS 5000 is equipped with a digital caliper for fast, accurate book size input, but the system is also CIP3 compliant, so it's ready to directly receive digital setup data when printers are ready to serve up this data. Advanced error detection is also provided in two areas: The signature gathering stations are outfitted with CCD cameras to guard against the wrong or incorrectly loaded signatures. Post binding, a weight checking system automatically diverts any error books.

A majority of the enhancements Rosback has made to its book binding equipment recently has been directed at increasing operator setup speed, according to Ron Bowman, vice president of sales.

PLC Touch Screens
A large percentage of the electronic components have been replaced with PLC touch controls that harness a number of functions without sacrificing speed.

"Competitive demands are being felt by printers during the soft economy," Bowman says. "Shorter runs, quicker turnarounds and lower pricing are all squeezing profits away from printers. Our emphasis has been how to improve profitability for our end users."

Rosback offers the 880 perfect binder and the optional 885 vacuum cover feeder. The 880 can handle up to 600 cycles per hour with 151⁄2˝ spine milling and notching, with no reduction in speed. Features include double knock-up devices for perfect cover register, precise pulsed temperature controller, conveyor delivery or vertical stacker, and side gluers.

According to Arthur Crawley, director of sales for Kolbus America, print customers are demanding special products that will make their book or magazine stand out from the crowd, yet still deliver quick turnaround and better quality at a lower cost.

In response to these requirements, Kolbus offers the Publica perfect binding line, comprised of its ZU 840 gatherer, KM 410 perfect binder and HD 151P three-knife trimmer. Kolbus utilizes Co-pilot technology as a man-and-machine interface, which takes the operator through the setup procedure with easy-to-follow screens and questions. Setup time is reduced dramatically and settings can be saved.

Kolbus' ZU 840 gatherer can augment the overall package value. It runs a range of products, from brochures, CDs and diskettes in covers, to chip cards, product samples and bags with solid or liquid content.

A quick and easy setup that doesn't sacrifice quality is a vital element, according to David Spiel, president of Spiel Associates. To this end, Spiel offers the Sterling Minibinder, a very economical, heavy-duty perfect binder.

The compact unit binds books from 4x2˝ up to 11x17˝, and from 1⁄8˝ to 2˝ thick, and can turn out up to 600 books per hour. Its auto sensor eliminates the need to press a button.

The 70-tooth carbide saw blade and notching station ensure a professional quality. The nipping motor is so heavy-duty, most cover stocks don't need to be scored. It also side glues for hinged covers.


Making the Perfect Choice

(Editor's Note: The following was contributed by Mark Hunt, marketing director of Standard Finishing Systems, a division of Standard Duplicating Machines in Andover, MA. Standard markets print finishing equipment, including a full line of perfect binders, through a network of independent dealers in the United States and Canada.)

Increasingly, printers are turning to perfect binders to satisfy a variety of requirements, including quality, document integrity, economy, and short-run work with quick changeover. But arbitrary investments in this equipment won't ensure a profitable experience. Instead, printers and trade finishers should plan ahead to make the perfect choice.

How to Buy. . .
Before you purchase a perfect binder, consider the following:

* Forecast the future. Project where your business will be in a year and purchase a machine that meets future needs.

* Insist on selection. Find a full-line dealer who provides a full complement of equipment and can explain your upgrade path.

* Go for a ride. Test drive the machine to determine your comfort level.

* Take it easy. Look for a machine that is easy to use (for cross-training of staff) and quick to set up and changeover.

* Play it safe. Make sure your binder is equipped with advanced electronic controls and interlocks.

* Keep it clean. Buy a machine that uses odorless hot-melt adhesive or can be outfitted with an air filtration or exhaust kit.

* Go compact. Based on your shop's real estate, look for a compact design that doesn't compromise performance.

* Make the connection. With an eye toward future production, consider a binder that can connect in-line with a three-knife trimmer.

* Count on quality. For consistent, high-quality results and long-term returns, purchase the highest-quality machine you can afford.

* Ask around. Ask your dealer for references and prepare specific questions to review with end users.

* Accent automation and convenience. As run lengths become even shorter and skilled labor is even harder to find, it's important to buy equipment that is easy to set up and changeover. Today, a new level of "on-demand" automation and error-free setup is available in the 5,000 books-per-hour class.

How to Measure Quality. . .
A high-quality, perfect bound book is measured by a strong, tight and square spine that offers flexible, yet durable, performance. Here's what to look for:

* Check for tight tolerances throughout the machine. All-important binding stations must be aligned absolutely square to one another. If any of these areas is improperly manufactured, assembled or adjusted, poor quality will result.

* Make sure the spine is not rounded (often caused by improper adjustments and evident in low-quality machines).

* Look for "nail heads" (where the corners of a book flare out) and excessive wrinkling of a spine, caused during pressing and trimming. Both indicate quality problems.

* To measure overall bind strength, hold the book upside down by a center page and shake the book. As you pull harder, the page should tear before the bind releases. A strong bind securely holds every page, even the inside front and rear pages, which are the most difficult to adhere properly.

Before you purchase finishing equipment, do your homework. You'll find that prudent investments in perfect binding will help you finish first.
 

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