Muscle Bound Bindery — Strength and Flexibility

“Children are rough with everything they touch, and books are no exception,” says Welsch. “Schools and libraries are environments where books receive heavy and extended usage. Also, many children’s books tend to be short, easy reads. The advantage of side sewing is that it lends a great deal of strength to even the thinnest hardcover books.”

In 1983, the company moved operations to a 45,000-square-foot facility just west of downtown Minneapolis. Along with the move came some new equipment, including a Muller Martini perfect binder and a Kolbus case binding line. For the next several years, Muscle Bound enjoyed a steady pace of growth as the company honed its quality and efficiency.

In the early 1980s, a publishing company in Finland noticed that many of the softcover school books it was producing were falling apart. The problem had two sources: The harsh Finnish climate was causing cold cracking of the binding adhesive, and the school kids were bending their books to get them to lay flat.

The solution to this one-two punch was Otabind, a binding method the publishing company co-developed with equipment manufacturer Muller Martini. In the Otabind system, the book is attached to the cover via the first and last pages of the book block using coldset glues. This allows the spine to float free of the cover, and the coldset glues allow the book to lay flat.

Former Muscle Bound president Jerry Hanson learned of the Otabind system and saw a natural fit with Muscle Bound’s existing markets. In 1989, Muscle Bound became the second company in the U.S. to license the Otabind method. To handle the addition of an Otabind-equipped binding line, the bindery expanded its facility to 70,000 square feet.

Since the day Otabind was brought to Muscle Bound more than 15 years ago, the company has not deviated from the patented technique.

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