Adhesive binders--Tightening the BeltOctober 2000
J.M. "Mike" Murray, president of Brackett, notes that two variables have affected the perfect binding and pad manufacturing industries over the past 10 years. Technological advances have enabled printers to move up the capabilities ladder. He says quick printing work is now done in small offices with laser printers, which enabled the quick printers to move into two-color work previously reserved for the medium-sized printer. It set off a chain reaction in the industry, and manufacturers needed to address these changes.
Secondly, at the high end of the printing spectrum, the larger printers became more competitive, making speed, automation and various efficiencies hallmarks of successful companies.
"The type of machine we used to sell to the small- and medium-size commercial printers is now sold to quick and instant printers," Murray notes. "The large companies are now requiring all new technology that gives them the higher volume, lower cost, more efficient type production. For that we have to add additional design. We must invest much heavier in R&D and do more one-to-one type projects and applications.
"We have to develop smaller, more multifunctional, less complicated equipment to go into the office environment," he adds. "We find that in the office environment, rather than having bindery or graphic arts people operating this equipment, you now have computer and office staff individuals who are not necessarily mechanical. Consequently, the equipment must be fool-proof and user-friendly."
Brackett offers several padding machines, including the Circular Padder, an advanced, hot-melt adhesive floor model system that features variable machine speeds up to 3,400 units per hour.
Brackett also markets the Kansa Padder Series III from Baldwin Kansa, another leader in the adhesive binding manufacturing circle. Rated at 2,300 cycles per hour, the Series III can handle from two sheets to 1˝ in thickness. Among the features is strip padding for multiple-part forms.
Greg Norris, marketing communications manager for Heidelberg Web Systems, notes their customers are seeking high-speed productivity with increased product personalization. He feels the company's line of Universal Binders—with speeds up to 20,000 units per hour and independent hoppers to allow the machine to excel at selective binding—addresses those needs.
One feature is the Omnicon Control System, which controls selective binding and ink-jet personalization. The ink-jet personalization can be done anywhere inside or outside the book. He feels it is sophisticated personalization, along with increased dependability and speed, that will enable print to remain competitive with electronic media, making messages more personal and immediate.
"The fact that we make both printing and finishing equipment makes for easier integration," Norris notes. "You can streamline purchasing, service and operation when dealing with one supplier for press and postpress."
With the shortage of skilled labor in the industry, states Kerry Burroughs, manager of the perfect binding division at Muller Martini, customers want all equipment as automated as possible. That entails motorized makereadies, reduced makeready time, touchscreen controls and PLCs. Keeping the equipment simple and straightforward, with all the necessary safety features, is vital.
Burroughs notes that the 5,000 copies per hour Acoro, Muller Martini's latest offering, requires 25 percent less for users to absorb as opposed to non-automated models. The Acoro features Commander software, touchscreen controls and 20 servo motors for making 30-plus adjustments. Changeover time is less than five minutes.
Steven Calov, product manager for Heidelberg (USA) Finishing, concurs that there is a premium placed on qualified, experienced help due to the lack of it. Printing and finishing companies are looking to take the phrase "trade" out of trade binder and teach new employees how to operate the equipment inside a day.
In manufacturing its QB 200, Heidelberg USA added a PLC control panel that regulates the length of glue applied to the spine. The glue is applied after a sensor registers the length of the spine.
"It took some of the skill level that was required before out of the loop and replaced it with an electronic eye to enhance the makeready time of the equipment," Calov says.
"If you look at the industry and all the automation there is on presses—automatic plate and blanket washing devices—you're starting to see some of those innovations on postpress. We're playing catch-up to where the presses and prepress are; look at how prepress has evolved, from movable type to where it is today. Now postpress is starting to see the advancements to enhance the product for throughput."
It's the age of shorter runs, and adhesive binders are being affected in much the same manner as saddle stitchers, according to Ron Bowman, vice president of sales for Rosback. Ease of operation is the oft-repeated key, and maintaining price levels—especially with the run lengths—is highly critical.
"People are looking for all the features of floor models in table tops," Bowman says. "They're trying to get the price down. . . but there's certain, basic elements of perfect binding one has to maintain in order to have a book that's going to hold together."
No-fault setup and side gluing are among the features included in Rosback's 880 floor model binder. It boasts a 24/7 programmable timer to heat the glue prior to schedule. The company also markets the 885—a cover feeder for the 880—and the 850 desktop unit.
Also recognizing the need for easy setup parameters, Duplo USA has addressed the issue by designing the unit with respect to book thickness variation, according to Paul Steinke, marketing director, so that there's no setup adjustments for that area of perfect binding. Thus, the only change that needs to be made from book to book is spine length.
"One trend I've noticed is the book-on-demand environment," states Steinke. "We've seen them from the highly productive binders requiring the capability of doing varying thickness in a production environment. There's also been a lot of interest in our small tabletop model for localized book-on-demand environments."
Duplo carries a pair of floor models: the single-clamp MR 500 and the four-clamp Quadramax. Steinke points out that the Quadramax was the first unit to offer varying thickness when it debuted about three years ago.
Finally, Kolbus America offers the Systembinder KM491 P, which is available with 18, 25, 32, 39, 46 and 53 clamps. With speeds up to 10,000 cph, the Systembinder features horizontal infeed, precise book-block clamping and individual spine processing.