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Saddle Stitching Machines -- Saddling the Right Machine

January 2003
By Caroline Miller


When it comes to saddle stitching, every printer or trade finisher has a different set of needs. Some are looking for increased speed; for others, it is ease of operation or fast make-ready capabilities. And there are those in need of a stitcher that can integrate easily into a larger in-line system. Vendors of production saddle stitchers are responding to all of those needs thanks to a new generation of technology.

"We've just seen a quantum leap in technology," says Chris Azbill, vice president at United Litho, a short-run publication printer that recently installed a Muller Martini Tempo saddle stitcher.

When United Litho went shopping for a stitcher, speed was the primary factor in its decision, according to Azbill. The Asburn, VA-based operation was facing increasing pressure from its clients to shorten schedules.

The 185-employee company, which is part of the Sheridan Group, specializes in association and special-interest magazines. Their average run length is 30,000 to 50,000 copies, and the typical magazine is 64 pages with significant advertising and four-color throughout. Previously, United operated two 20-year-old stitchers.

"We are somewhat unusual in that our jobs feature pretty consistent makeup. Our clients weren't really looking for all of the bells and whistles," states Azbill. But, like everyone else, they were clamoring for faster turnaround times. United Litho also knew that it required in-line mailing capabilities, so the new stitcher needed to integrate into that system seamlessly.

"We were looking for a configuration that offered high speeds and significant quality improvements," he says. "What most impressed us about the stitcher are the stream feeders. We bundle everything coming off the presses, so we were looking for the capability to bundle load," he reveals.

In the end, United Litho opted for an overall in-line system that consists of a QTI controller, a MachTronic paper labeler, Domino Amjet ink-jetting, an Arpac shrink-wrapping machine.

Another capability that was important to Azbill was the optical signature recognition feature on the saddle stitcher. "It is not impossible to make a bad book, but it almost requires human intervention to do it," remarks Azbill, who notes how the new stitcher has made a positive impact on United Litho's operations.

For example, the new generation of saddle stitchers run significantly faster. "We are running faster with one machine than we were with our two previous machines. In-line mailing also saves us a tremendous amount of time. It literally hits the binder and is out the door the same day. We've cut three to four days out of the schedule," claims Azbill.
 

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