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Back to Basics

Binding Systems

As more print-service-providers look to bring finishing work in-house, Rob Fletcher takes a look at the latest advancements in binding technology

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Duplo offers a number of binding solutions for a range of print applications

Bound for glory

More print-service-providers (PSPs) than ever are seeking to take greater control over their finishing processes. While this was something that was previously outsourced to another company, businesses now are bringing this work in-house in order to become more efficient and ensure they are hitting quality targets.

Binding forms a major part of the finishing process for a wide range of printed work such as books, magazines, booklets and long-form documents. As such, this service is in high demand, which has led PSPs to turn to investing in equipment themselves, rather than send it out to be bound.

O Factoid: Book binding can be traced back to the sixth century, when monks would protect their manuscripts with wood boards, often encrusted with metal and jewels O

Here, we pick out some of the latest machines available to PSPs seeking to bring binding in-house for the first time, as well as those looking to enhance their existing setup in order to gain an advantage over their competition.

High quality results

One company well placed to help is Intelligent Finishing Systems (IFS), which has a range of solutions available across a host of finishing process. Eric Keane, managing director of IFS, says as print businesses are under pressure to offer more services, often with fewer skilled staff, bringing the latest technology in-house will help ease these pressures.

“Bringing binding in-house will allow PSPs to deliver high quality results, effortlessly,” Keane says, adding: “Some of the core benefits of this include automation that supports profitable productivity and the simple and easy completion of short-run soft cover books, including books-of-one.

Bringing binding in house will allow PSPs to deliver high quality results, effortlessly

“In-house binding will also mean PSPs have solutions that drive down production costs while improving product quality, delivery times and margins, while the integration of the different processes will, where appropriate, help them keep ‘up time’ at a maximum.”

So, what should PSPs be looking for when it comes to new binding kit? Keane recommends Horizon’s range of smart binding line, which, available from IFS, can be tailored to suit the customer and future proofed to support future growth plans.

The latest addition to the IFS binding technology portfolio is the Horizon BQ-500 four clamp perfect binder, which builds on its BQ-470 and BQ-480 predecessors. Keane says the new machine can support a broader range of run lengths, thanks to its unique combination of productivity, efficiency and operator friendly features.

Available from IFS, Horizon BQ-500 offers memory storage for up to 999 jobs, pre-installed variable software capability and variable thickness production of 5mm up to 800bph

Keane says these features include smoother, faster more highly automated set up via a large 12.1” colour touchscreen, as well as 21 automated sections from cycle and milling speed to roller height and guide positioning, memory storage of up to 999 jobs, pre-installed variable software capability, and variable thickness production of 5mm up to 800bph.

The new system is also one of the first to be pre-installed with Horizon’s cloud-based iCE LiNK workflow. It provides access to a dashboard that reports real-time production analysis for improved efficiency and profitability, remote update capabilities and scheduled maintenance resulting in less downtime.

“This latest evolution of Horizon’s highly successful series of four clamp binders elevates automation and ease of use to new levels supporting greater productivity and efficiency,” Keane says.

Keeping hold of costs

Elsewhere, Morgana Systems, part of the Plockmatic Group, has a range of options for binding. Ray Hillhouse, vice president of sales and marketing for the Plockmatic Offline Business Unit, says in-house binding gives the printer total control of the production schedule of the job.

“Sending work out to a third party means that you are putting your faith, your delivery schedule for the job, and some of your profit, into their hands,” Hillhouse says, adding: “Having binding available in-house means that you are taking control of delivery schedules, and, perhaps more importantly, keeping hold of costs and, therefore, the profits.”

In terms of what Morgana has to offer, Hillhouse says that solutions are available for both bookletmaking and PUR binding. For bookletmaking, Morgana devices are capable of folding and stitching publications of up to 224 pages, with an optional capability of creating a square back to the finished product, giving that perfect bound look.

“Stitching wire can even be provided in colour to closely match the colour of the print on the spine of the publication,” Hillhouse says, adding: “The product combines a very cost effective binding technique with the total security of bind that comes with a saddle stitch product.”

Turning to PUR binding and Morgana’s DigiBook range offers a variety of production speeds to suit a range of print businesses.

“The DigiBook is a truly innovative binding machine designed and built for today’s market requirements,” Hillhouse says, continuing: “Glue application is direct and hermetically sealed, without odour or toxic fume emissions, therefore not requiring extraction fans.

“PUR is able to bind different substrates in one publication. It also provides the strongest of binds, and one that does not succumb to temperature variations unlike other methods. PUR simply stays bound.”

Specific options in this range include the entry-level DigiBook 200, which is suited to litho and digital printers that require short to medium runs of PUR perfect bound books. The machine can produce up to 200 books per hour, is suitable for binding lengths from 110mm up to 380mm, and can handle a spine thickness from 2mm to 50mm.

The DigiBook 200 is equipped with a patented closed gluing system where the spine and side gluing are automatically applied by a slot applicator, providing for the utmost binding quality and accuracy.

Morgana also provides a growth path for users requiring higher capacity PUR binding with the DigiBook 300XL, and DigiBook 450. The DigiBook 300XL provides for up to 300 copies per hour, a binding length from 100mm through to 450mm, and a spine thickness from 2mm up to 50mm, and can also can run from a standard power supply.

Morgana’s DigiBook 300XL provides for up to 300 copies per hour and a binding length from 100mm through to 450mm

The top of the range DigiBook 450 comes as standard with an automatic cover feeder, as well as providing increased production of up to 450 books per hour. The cover feeder can be equipped with an optional scoring attachment, eliminating the need to pre-crease covers.

Gaining confidence

Casting the net a little wider still and Renz also has a host of binding solutions on offer. Iain Bullock, managing director of Renz UK, says the overriding benefit to bringing binding in-house is to gain complete control of the work with regard to quality, conformity, time schedule and cost.

“The confidence gained by being able to bind the whole job in-house enables printers to compete with far more certainty for a larger variety and higher volume of work,” Bullock comments.

“The customers of a company that has brought its binding in-house and have it all under their own control are reassured too, benefiting from the printers confidence regarding their ability to deliver quality within a specified time frame.”

With this, he draws attention to the latest automated entry-level, high speed punch from Renz in the form of the AP 300 Compact, the scaled down version of the established Renz AP 360 Digital. Both these machines have a fully digitalised makeready and, when sitting alongside a Renz Punch 500 ES, Bullock says they satisfy all possible punching requirements in terms of volume and format for books and calendars up to 500mm width.