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Allied Bindery : Quality Creates Confidence

March 2012
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While binding is only 10 to 15 percent of the cost to manufacture a book, its value is immeasurable. Allied Bindery, of Madison Heights, MI, has always endeavored to make receiving that full value effortless for its customers. Allied's primary goal is to produce a high-quality book, and a close second is to allow for flexibility. Being an early embracer of hot melt polyurethane (PUR) adhesive for spine gluing has helped it achieve both.

A trade binder in business since 1989, about a decade ago Allied noted an increased variety of paper stock coming in from printers. While traditional ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) adhesives were capable of handling many stocks, Allied recognized that PUR adhesives could accommodate virtually any stock. Combining that adaptability with PUR's tolerance for extreme temperatures and excellent layflat properties, the shop decided to make it the standard on one of its two Kolbus binders.

The Kolbus KM470 binder came with a wheel pot applicator. The wheel pot was adequate for PUR adhesive application, but the open system resulted in daily residual adhesive waste, as well as extensive maintenance. In addition to labor-intensive, daily startup and shutdown processes, wheel pots require regular maintenance and refurbishing to stay in good working order. And, the open wheels were susceptible to contamination and foaming of the PUR, both of which negatively impact adhesive binding properties. Additionally, application control isn't very precise, requiring over application of adhesive to ensure minimum coverage.

After some thorough research, Allied realized it could improve production efficiency and reduce waste and maintenance by using an extrusion application system. Working with Henkel, their adhesive supplier, Allied identified the Nordson BetterBook solution to meet the need for a closed extrusion system. The Better- Book solution incorporates a Nordson bulk melter and hose with its EP48V slot applicator to protect the adhesive from air/moisture exposure, while providing maximum application control.

"Some customers were initially concerned that PUR use would significantly increase the cost of the bookbinding process," says Ed Doyle, managing director of Allied Bindery. "But, while PURs are more expensive than EVAs, use of the PUR extrusion application solution allows a 50 percent reduction in the volume of adhesive needed for proper bonding. And, the low-maintenance system also helps to reduce some labor overhead costs. The net result of PUR use is less than pennies per piece for a longer-lasting, finished book."

Since Nordson's is a closed system, the adhesive is protected from premature curing that starts as soon as the moisture in air reaches the adhesive. This means optimum bonding properties are retained by the PUR adhesive and eliminates the adhesive waste of having to dispose of exposed, prematurely-cured adhesive daily. And as the EP48V applicator uses slot and sniffback technology to limit exposure to air, adhesive system shutdown and startup are reduced to a matter of minutes rather than up to an hour for each process.

A Leader of the Pack

Always striving to be a leader rather than a follower, Allied was the first trade bindery to introduce PUR in the Upper Midwest and the first bindery in North America to implement extrusion application technology.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for Allied has been educating its customers. PURs do not support the main critical in-process test of bookbinders—the page pull test. While PURs develop the initial strength to be trimmed and shipped immediately, the traditional page pull test can not accurately be performed for approximately 24 hours. So, Allied has in place numerous quality checks, both automated and manual, visual and mechanical, to confirm spine glue application consistency in real time.

"You need to partner with your customers and your customers' clients at the beginning of a project so that everybody understands the desired outcome and what is needed to achieve it," says Doyle. "Part of this is project-specific education, but we also proactively send bi-weekly technical tips to keep customers up-to-date on process and material trends."

Allied also became ISO 9001 certified to ensure a continuous commitment to structured, successful processes. It employees understand exactly what is important to the binding of every book, and the potential results if these exacting standards are not consistently met.

Currently, the ability to accommodate the increasingly short runs and finicky raw materials has Allied expanding into the world of digital print finishing. This is the next logical step for the establishment to continue to be a full-service bindery that's partnering with its customers. PI


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