Finishing — Caught in a Bind?
Automation and flexibility are the two key issues facing Quad/Tech International (QTI), according to Randy Freeman, vice president of sales and marketing. Reducing tougher and more mundane jobs on the line, namely material handling, is being demanded by customers.
"There's a range of specialized material handling equipment being developed for the bindery," Freeman says. "Namely, in terms of stream feeders that handle the signatures as they're being fed into the bindery machines, and the stackers and palletizers in the pressroom which, in turn, feed the bindery."
More sophisticated controls are being implemented on the equipment, Freeman notes. Machines boast a higher level of electronic sophistication and are now PLC- or computer-controlled. Quality control sensors are also being added to machines to detect that the right signature is going into a pocket.
QTI also manufactures ink-jet controls that allow a customer to do demographic binding. "There's a rising interest in that type of binding," he says. "It provides flexibility for the customer to do more varied types of jobs on that machine."
Another growth area is mechanical binding. Cerlox (plastic comb) binding, double-loop wire and plastic coil are among the most popular, according to David Spiel, an owner of Spiel Associates. Manufacturers like Spiel are coming out with more machinery to address those needs, including automatic plastic coil inserters.
Spiel's Coilmaster permits productivity of up to 700 books/hour in contrast to between 100 and 150 books/hour done by hand.
Index tabbing is an enigma of sorts; Spiel believes there is more demand for index tabbing work than there is machines. Locating a used tab laminator can be as difficult as finding an eight-track music player.
"I have 400 to 500 used machines here, and in the past five years perhaps I've sold one used automatic tab laminator," he says. "Nobody sells them. The only way they sell them is if a company goes out of business, and that's rare."