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The Perfect Bind

April 2005
Finding and using perfect binding equipment can go a little easier with some advice from the experts.

Perfect binding is a growing business for in-plants. Already 39.2 percent of in-plants have perfect binders. Many others are eying them.

Before dropping any money on this equipment, though, it's important to analyze possible future business, not just current needs, so you're not stuck with an outdated machine.

"Too often, people buy what they need at the moment and do not anticipate the potential for growth and new business," notes Steven Calov, Heidelberg's postpress product manager for stitching and perfect binding. He suggests asking yourself questions like these:

• How often will you use the binder?

• What are your run lengths?

• How fast do you need to turn books around?

• What is your five-year plan?

• What is the potential for growth with the binder?

To help in-plant managers make the right decisions about perfect binding equipment, IPG spoke with some of the manufacturers to get their advice.

Features to Look For:

• When looking at new equipment consider features that allow for easy loading and off-loading, automated setup and changeover to minimize down time between runs—particularly if the run lengths are short—system reliability and a simple, easy-to-learn operator interface.

—Bob Flinn, Standard Finishing Systems

• For a floor model with runs of a few hundred to a thousand, we suggest a 500-cycle-an-hour machine. A user should look for pneumatic clamps, a jogger at the book block feeding position, a milling device with milling and notching, a hot melt tank with glue cutoff for the spine gluing, as well as a disk-side gluing device, paper chip removal, a glue fume absorber, and an automatic suction cover feeder with double in-line scoring.

—Steven Calov, Heidelberg

• Look for adjustments that can be made without stopping the machine. Make sure the size limitations are clearly documented and understood.

Jody Harrison, Muller Martini

• Don't confuse cycle speed with productivity. Rated production speed on most binding systems doesn't tell the whole story and can lead to dissatisfaction down the road. True hourly production is dependent upon workflow to and from the binder, setup time, machine up-time, run length and operator proficiency.

—Bob Flinn, Standard Finishing Systems

Analyzing Automatic Setup:

• When looking at automatic setting machines, make sure you understand the difference between systems that are set up automatically versus those that are self compensating in key areas. Tight tolerances are extremely important to consistent quality output. This is particularly true in the areas such as nipper table height, nipper jaw pressure, milling guide plates, and carriage clamp pressure. Systems that utilize self compensating systems, such as pneumatics or spring tension, are very forgiving for the operator but will not hold the tolerance required for consistent binding quality. Substations that are driven to tight tolerance settings via stepper motors will provide the same quality from one book to the next.


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