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Back to Basics


Bookletmaking remains a staple part of many printing companies across the UK. Rob Fletcher takes a look at the latest technologies in this market

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Making your mark

In Print Monthly, we often write about the many new and exciting markets that offer growth prospects to printing companies. However, the same can be said for some of the more established areas of print, with those active in these sectors seeing demand for certain products increase.

One such market is bookletmaking, which is a staple part of daily life at many UK print businesses, and the main reason for this is that there is always a steady supply of work from a wide range of customers. After all, we’re always going to need booklets of some description.

With this in mind, we catch up with some of the leading manufacturers and suppliers in this market to find out a bit more about the latest technologies available to print-service-providers (PSPs) and learn how this kit can help them to gain an advantage of their competition.

Affordable automation

As its name may suggest, Intelligent Finishing Systems (IFS) offers a wide range of finishing solutions, including several bookletmaking machines from a number of manufacturers. Managing director Bryan Godwyn says investment in new kit, especially those models with automation, offers huge advantages to PSPs.

“With the latest solutions, PSPs can reduce production costs, elevate product quality and improve delivery times and margins,” Godwyn says, adding: “Highly automated systems deliver workflow efficiencies that ensure maximum uptime and ultimate productivity. Smart automation will continue to move forward and enable operations to embrace systems and solutions that link as many processes as possible to create a highly streamlined end to end production.

With the latest solutions, PSPs can reduce production costs, elevate product quality and improve delivery times and margins

“Affordable automation that elevates productivity and profitability is what our customers are looking for because they have fewer skilled staff delivering more services. They want fast to set up and easy to operate solutions that deliver high quality results, quickly and effortlessly. “

With this in mind, Godwyn draws attention to some of the kit on offer from IFS, primarily from manufacturer partner Horizon. The next-generation StitchLiner Mark III runs at a maximum speed of 6,000bph and up to 12,000bph with two-up production and is capable of producing A4 landscape booklets at speeds of up to 5,300bph.

Available from IFS, the Horizon StitchLiner Mark III boasts a maximum speed of 6,000bph and 12,000bph with two-up production

The StitchLiner targets booklet production for general commercial printers, inplants and CRDs, featuring a large HD colour touch screen that Godywn says offers enhanced operation, with fully automated job set up in less than a minute making it 30% faster than the StitchLiner 5500.

Also available from IFS and Horizon is the SPF/FC200L A4 landscape booklet production line, which incorporates all highly automated features of the SPF/FC-200A bookletmaker, combined with the ability to feed A4 landscape sheets up to 640mm in length.

The Horizon SPF/FC200L A4 landscape booklet production line has a top speed of 42,000 sheets per hour with A4 short edge feeding

The feeding system can run at speeds of up to 42,000 sheets per hour with A4 short edge feeding. The main feeder, cover feeder, accumulator, CCD camera device and barcode reading device can be arranged in various configurations.

O Factoid: Available from Intelligent Finishing Systems and Horizon, the SPF/FC200L A4 landscape booklet production line features a feeding system that can run at speeds of up to 42,000 sheets per hour with A4 short edge feeding O

In addition, the Horizon VAC L600H is a six-bin collator, designed for the efficient A4 landscape booklet production of digital and offset jobs. Godywn says that the machine delivers improved digital sheet feeding performance by incorporating smooth air flow with individual air-blow fans at each bin, and also features overlap and speed adjustment, as well as a range of suction and blower levels.

Simplicity is key

Also active in this sector is Ashgate Automation, with managing director, Lewis Price, saying that constant contact with its customers is key for the development of new bookletmaking technologies.

Price expands: “The main feedback was that simplicity had to be key; they didn’t want over-complicated systems, with the high support and repair cost that can come with those in years to come. The ability to simply set up jobs and make adjustments was key, with set-up time minimal.”

Ashgate fed this back to manufacturer partner KAS, which responded with the KF640 bookletmaking system. Designed and built in the UK, the machine is able to deliver booklets measuring up to up to 320mm x 320mm.

Price comments: “The largest booklet size of 320mm sq was requested, but also key to the system was the ability to produce smaller booklets; the KF640 can produce down to A6 booklets. In addition, offering the bookletmaker/trimmer system at under £16,000 allows this system to fit into most customer budgets.

The KF640 bookletmaking system from KAS can deliver booklets measuring up to up to 320mm x 320mm. The device is available from Ashgate Automation

“Taking advantage of the new generation of print systems can only be maximised if they are finished to the best standards. While not looking at the longer run lengths, we concentrate on the finishing of high end, bespoke booklets, with an option of standard or squared spine finish.”

Keep up with developments

Elsewhere and Morgana Systems has a plethora of finishing technology available, including solutions for bookletmaking. Ray Hillhouse, general manager for UK operations at Plockmatic Group, the parent company of Morgana, says new kit is key.

Hillhouse expands: “The latest models have increased the sheet size, thickness, and format of booklets that can be printed, giving printers more options than they have ever had.

“The new BM5035 and BM5050 products deliver these new applications by handling sheets of up to 620mm in length. The machines have been engineered for mid-to-high volume customers with the highest quality and functionality.”

Going into more detail on these new machines, Hillhouse states that the BM5050 and BM3050 can staple and fold up to 50 sheets of 80gsm, to create booklets of up to 200 pages. The two devices are also capable of handling 35 sheets to create up to 140-page booklets.

Hillhouse says: “I should also add that the entire Morgana offline and Plockmatic inline range of bookletmakers can produce booklets with the unique, patented SquareFold spine. This gives the booklet the look and feel of a perfect bound publication, where the spine of the booklet can be printed and finished product is much easier to store, pack and ship.”

Also available from Morgana are the recently launched Morgana PowerSquare 224VF and 160VF, which Hillhouse bills as innovative and complete bookmaking systems for the production of offline books of up to 224 pages and 160 pages, respectively.

PSPs need to keep up with productivity advances in order to stay ahead of their competitors

Hillhouse adds: “For the print producer it is important to maintain good dialogue with his finishing equipment provider to keep up-to-date with the very latest developments and trends in the market. PSPs need to keep up with productivity advances in order to stay ahead of their competitors.”

Imagination and creativity

Also weighing in with advice is Duplo, whose head of UK sales, Colleen Hankin, says that the manufacturer has a system to suit any printer regardless of size or production capacity.

Hankin comments: “Duplo’s excellence in bookletmaking is known worldwide with the world’s first fully automatic booklet makers DBM100/200 in 1995. From small, hand-fed desktop machines to fully automatic, high quality production systems that can feed collated and uncollated sets intelligently and efficiently.”

Popular devices in the Duplo portfolio include the 150 bookletmaker entry-level range, as well as the DBM 350 bookletmakers that are more robust and fully automatic, and also the DBM 600i that can handle a higher range of applications such as bigger sheet sizes to allow for A4 landscape and 300mm square books.

In terms of what is new from Duplo, Hankin picks out the iSaddle X, which she says “stands on the shoulders of the iSaddle 2”and is designed to be flexible across format sizes and different substrates along with additional capabilities for data integrity.

Duplo’s new iSaddle X offers variable format change in one pass, where different sized sheets can be collated and added to the product automatically

Key features on the iSaddle X, according to Hankin, is variable format change in one pass, where different sized sheets can be collated and added to the product automatically at the touch of the on-screen controls. Another benefit is that the device can produce publications similar to traditional saddle-stitchers and combines this with intelligent automation.

Hankin says: “Due to the modular nature of the iSaddle X, customers can customise it to suit all production requirements thus, the focus for the iSaddle X will be to help commercial printers combat the online printers to offer something different to the customers in order maintain their appeal. Where the online printers sell based on the higher volume, we can help commercial printers sell on the variety, quality and flexibility that can be achieved.

“Our modular systems are developed for the ever-changing print environment offering complete integrity and security of the bookletmaking process.”

Bur how do PSPs know which machine is for them? Hankin advises printers to understand the full range of products that can be produced using its range of bookletmakers so that they can maximise the potential of the equipment.

Hankin adds: “Simply selling an A4 or A5 booklet job to a customer and not exploring their full requirements can mean that the printer can miss out on the potential for extra spend. As will all Duplo equipment the imagination and creativity behind the products are the only limits to what can be achieved.

“Any product between 300 x 300mm and 75 x 120mm can be produced and set up within 60 seconds using coated, uncoated, textured and speciality finished stock can be used, from multi-sized products, long covered as well as six-page covered booklets. Personalised pagination is also available in one pass.”

Hankin’s advice is true for bookletmakers from all manufacturers and suppliers; PSPs should understand exactly what they can get out of a device before making a commitment to purchasing it. Once they have this knowledge, they can invest and open up a range of new services to their own customers.

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