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Saddle Stitchers--A Stitch In Time

August 2000
BY ERIK CAGLE


When is a floor model saddle stitcher not a saddle stitcher? When does it become a perfect binder?

Ask Bob Morton, president of Best Graphics, one of the nation's leading bindery product distributors. Best Graphics will be introducing the Best Osako 612 UB 'reverse stitcher' to the U.S. market later this year. The innovative machine will produce books that appear to be perfect bound, despite the fact they are produced on a stitcher.

In essence, it's the look of a perfectly bound book at saddle stitcher cost; but there's more to it than the bottom line. The reverse stitcher is designed for the children's book market, and the durable bind withstands the constant opening and closing. Additionally, stitch legs are not exposed to prying little fingers.

"Instead of stitching from the top down, it goes from the inside out," Morton explains. "The glue strip is laid as it comes into the cover feeder, and then it goes into the former. It looks like a perfectly bound book."

It appears that the venerable saddle stitching machine is striving to reinvent itself. Already a bindery darling, a stitcher offers lower costs and quicker turnaround time for books, catalogs, brochures and direct mail, among others. Still, that won't stop printers from demanding—or manufacturers from researching, retooling and redefining—more attractive stitchers.

Morton notes that the days of catering equipment to grizzled, veteran craftsmen are declining. The job market is still reasonably tight, making qualified labor a premium.

"It's pushing manufacturers to build machines that are easy to operate and can still maintain higher production speeds," Morton remarks. "Machines that don't require a journeyman mentality, of needing 10 years' experience to run at 80 percent production speed."

Best Graphics unveiled its 368 model at DRUPA this past spring. The unit features fully automatic, 15-second chain timing, as well as high and low folio gripper. All controls on the rotary feeders are adjustable while the stitcher is in operation.

Buyers in the market for a new stitcher seek low maintenance combined with high reliability and longevity, according to Tom Hagemann, product manager for ISP Stitching & Bindery Products.

"In today's world of short turnaround printing, the saddle stitching machine needs to be user-friendly and fast, without a lot of setup time and maintenance," Hagemann notes. "The issue is being addressed with stitching machines that are adjusted easily and don't require high lubrication intervals."

ISP has enjoyed much success with its BinderyMate, a compact, 1⁄4˝-capacity wire stitcher that switches from flat to saddle stitching and back again in seconds. The unit was recently upgraded with the new M-2000 stitching head, which boasts reduced operating force and wear-resistant components.
 

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