Book/Booklet Binders — Fast and Easy, Rules
BY ERIK CAGLE
The evolution of book publishing has some parallels with that of the computer. Smaller and quicker are the operative words in this comparison.
Before the PC became a household fixture, computers were hulking boxes with reel-to-reel tapes and other round objects that made those cute little concentric circles. And they weren't the sharpest knives in the drawer, boasting the processing speed of a can opener. Book publishing was also big and scarry—1,000-page megatomes were loaded onto presses to churn out millions of copies. "War and Peace" was followed by hundreds of thousands of 500-page copies of biology books. Obviously, they took awhile to print.
Naturally, best sellers haven't gone anywhere—Stephen King may hawk his wordsmith abilities via the Internet, but he still can peddle a million-plus copies of whatever he puts his name to. But while the big runs remain viable for some, many printers have found golden opportunities with shorter runs and equipment that offers the flexibility to change from variable sizes in a short amount of time. Versatility can allow printers to accommodate publishers with varying run size and length requirements.
Naturally, any equipment that can decrease makeready time will allow the printer to jump from one run to another without being bogged down in adjusting for differing needs. The same holds true for presses and binding equipment, the latter of which can present a challenge for manufacturers looking to address the needs of the book and booklet printing populace.
"In today's market, short runs with quick changeover to other sizes are very important," stresses Tom Hagemann, product manager for ISP Stitching & Bindery Products. "Along with this, reliability over time and low maintenance intervals are attributes that customers demand. "
ISP is addressing needs in the booklet-making segment with its new B-2000 Stitch'n Fold BookletMaker. It features an economical, EZ-Thread stitching head, and Hagemann feels customers appreciate the savings garnered by using stitching wire as opposed to staples. ISP also offers a face trimmer that can be used in-line and off-line with the B-2000.
According to Peter Tu, vice president of marketing for Duplo USA, customers are seeking features such as versatility, quick changeover, modular design, high quality and productivity—all at a reasonable cost. Thus, he notes, choosing the best machinery to achieve maximum versatility and productivity is critical in the high-demand, short-run environment.
"Printers prefer bindery equipment that is easy to use with quick setup and changeover," Tu remarks. "Equipment that is geared for short-run work and that is easy to use will subsequently lower labor costs for on-demand products."
Duplo offers the DBM-400 and DBM-120 systems. The DBM-400 booklet maker is the automatic stitcher/folder online to the System 4000 vertical collating towers. Setup and changeover are done automatically, without the need for manual adjustments, reducing the need for highly skilled operators and saving equipment training time.
The small commercial end user is looking for a sturdily constructed binder with with quick makeready enhancements, notes Steven Calov, product manager for Heidelberg USA. To that end, Heidelberg has produced the Quickbinder 200 for the entry-level, standalone market with a speed of 1,500 cycles per hour. The QB200 boasts automated glue length, air table transport for the cover feeder, thermostat control of the glue pot and side gluing for a quality hinged book.
"In-house perfect binding increases the value-added, saves time, reduces costs and eliminates the intermediate transfer of the job to an outside source," Calov states. "Deadlines can be met independent from other suppliers."
In terms of value-added features, Calov notes that the enhancement of the PLC glue length control unit enables the scraper to regulate the glue cutoff on each end of the spine. The QB200 is also supplied with a top loading and bottom feeding cover feeder.
Vivian Sassi, vice president of American Binding, sees a trend toward more economical, semi-automatic machines, along with a tendency toward integration for fully automatic units. She feels customers are interested in customizing the desired equipment to be fully integrated and working in-line.
"After many years of increasing market shares for mechanical binding, customers are turning to glue binding," Sassi states. She adds that American Binding is showcasing an integrated collator/glue binding machine at the TPG show in Paris.
Versatility is a key factor for the equipment in order to accommodate different "gimmicks," according to John Morgenstern, director of product management/product planning for Heidelberg Web Systems. This is particularly true in the selective content that is popular in the catalog and publishing market.
"There's been a significant increase in the number of gimmicks, especially in perfect-bound books," Morgenstern remarks. "The number of pockets required has increased significantly, while the editorial content has not grown."
The Universal Binder family of perfect binders has migrated into a new control architecture, which makes troubleshooting, expansion and the integration of auxiliary equipment easier, he says.
A majority of the enhancements Rosback has made to its book binding equipment in recent years has been directed at increasing operator setup speed, reports Ron Bowman, vice president of sales. A lot of the electronic components have been eliminated, replaced with PLC touch controls that harness a number of functions. In the process, Bowman notes that are no sacrifices in terms of speed or capabilities.
Rosback offers the 880 perfect binder and optional 885 cover feeder. The 880 can handle up to 600 cycles per hour with spine milling and notching. Features include a knock-up device for perfect cover register, precise pulsed temperature controller, conveyor delivery or vertical stacker, and side gluers.
Some of the driving forces behind the manufacturing proclivities of companies that assemble and/or distribute book binding equipment—according to Mark Berkey, vice president of sales and administration for the Book Technology Group—include product and process quality improvement, process/layout optimization and customized production modules. BTG is a distributor for Hörauf's BDM Universal Casemaker.
"New products are manufactured in a controlled process where common components and sub-assemblies are utilized in multiple machines," Berkey states. "Servos, PLCs and computer software are common to multiple machines in our product stable, allowing for familiarity in both manufacturing and maintenance once machines are installed on the customer's floor."
Trade Show Success
The Graphics of the Americas show in Miami last month turned out to be a successful one for Spiel Associates, according to David Spiel, president. The Coilmaster II coil binder, which produces coil on an as-needed basis, and the Sterling Minibinder perfect binder, were among the items that moved the quickest.
"It's automation, automation, automation," Spiel underscores. "It's what customers want, untouched by human hands."
The Minibinder can cycle up to 600 pieces per hour and is a heavy-duty machine geared toward runs of under 10,000. Spiel notes that the unit's milling station features a 72 carbide blade that also notches.
With the move toward digital technology, customers are seeking easy-to-operate equipment that can handle online production, according to Buddy Ayers, director of branch operations for C.P. Bourg. He adds that the limited labor pool is causing print providers to look for more automated methods to approach certain applications.
In response, C.P. Bourg has developed the Bourg Book Factory, a fully automated, in-line booklet finishing system that also incorporates Xerox technologies. Sheets are fed in-line into a Xerox DocuTech or DocuPrint, which prints digital images. The printed sheets exit the machine and are fed into a choice of C.P. Bourg finishing devices, where documents can be stacked, perforated, rotated or folded. They are then transferred to the Bourg BBF2005, which binds these signatures into perfect-bound booklets. For applications requiring commercial-quality, saddle stitched documents, sheets can be bypassed in-line directly to the Bourg Document Finisher (BDFX).
In automating the bindery processes—notes Jennifer Moffa, customer service rep for Smyth s.r.l./Mac Manufacturing—some of the benefits include increased production, less labor requirements and higher product quality.
"By employing new technology, gathering and sewing costs have been dramatically reduced, minimizing labor costs and increasing production," she says. "With computerization, setup times are kept at a minimum, and with better utilization of floor space, efficient and profitable gains are made in the production and organization of the bindery."
Jules Fried, vice president of marketing and business development for Roll Systems, feels that the trend toward shorter run lengths, which require quick setups due to size changes, is having an impact on binding machine technology. He notes that a cross trend is the standardization of page formats.
Getting In-line With Digital
Roll Systems manufactures in-line equipment for the digital printing environment, including the BookMaster CS for black-and-white, cut-sheet printers. Other units include the BookMaster CF2 and CF3 for continuous web, and the CFM merge model.
Ease of operation and reliability head the list of customer importance, according to Arthur Crowley, southern regional sales manager for Kolbus. New designs in hardcase and softcase machines by Kolbus have greatly aided operators in making size adjustments, he notes. Kolbus' latest offering, the ZU 840, is a belt-style gathering machine.
Ralph Zaengerle, product manager for the Muller Martini book binding division, believes reproducable settings, automation and a lack of skilled labor are driving the manufacture standards for book binding machines. The company boasts an array of perfect binders, from the 1,500 cph Amigo, to the mid-range Acoro and the 12,000 cph Corona.
In terms of perfect binding, Standard Finishing offers the BQ-440 binder, which is combined with the SL-40 lifting conveyor and HT-70 three-knife trimmer. Another product, the Horizon SpeedVAC collating and saddle stitching system, is expandable to six towers, or 60 bins. At more than 9,000 sets per hour, its dual directional feeding system increases productivity. A touch-sensitive screen makes for simple setups and a remote, hand-held control enables full operator mobility.
Booklet-making equipment from MBM Corp. includes the Booklet-Pro 8800 document finishing system, which produces flat-finished, folded booklets at a rate of 2,700 per hour. Other offerings include the Sprint 2000 and 5000 (1,500 sets per hour), as well as the Booklet-Pro 6100 and 7500.
Baumfolder has introduced the Baumfolder B2000 and the QuickBook booklet makers to the market. The B2000 can jog, stitch and fold more than 65,000 booklets using stitching wire before reloading.
Heat Systems Make the Difference
The following was supplied by Louis R. Hollmeyer, director of marketing for Valco Cincinnati.
Postpress bookbinding equipment, such as perfect binders and casing-in machines, require energy-efficient adhesive delivery systems that can quickly meet full production melt rates for back spine and joint gluing.
Today, hot-melt systems are available with energy-efficient tank designs that make it possible to heat and deliver large quantities of adhesive in short periods of time. Automatic level controls allow these units to melt glue on-demand as required by production speeds, while eliminating degradation and char.
These same systems can also effectively perform side-seam binding operations and hinge gluing. Some use of the pot and wheel method is still prevalent in this area. However, utilizing an effective extrusion system can deliver a more precise glue application. Bead placements are more accurate and glue volumes are uniform, producing a superior book.
An effective hot-melt extrusion system utilizes a pattern control for valve activation. If more or less glue is needed the pressure is easily adjustable. These same extrusion systems can also effectively perform precise tipping and inserting operations.