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Faster finishing for quick printers

Aug 1, 2001 12:00 AM

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Entry-level bindery equipment gets sophisticated

The quick-print bindery is undergoing a transformation. Formerly an afterthought to the print shop's main business of offset printing and copying, binding and finishing capabilities are assuming greater importance among quick-print customers. In response, printers are investing in equipment that might be seen in a commercial bindery, including perfect binders and bookletmakers, perforating, scoring and slitting machines, and floor-model folders.

“More and more quick printers are moving up to heavier, more precise bindery equipment,” observes Paris Walker, charter member of quick-print group PrintImage International (Chicago) and retired owner of a Chattanooga, TN, print shop. “An example is the trend away from tabletop folders to console models with right-angle attachments.” Walker notes that the demand for higher-precision bindery equipment is in reaction to quick printers attracting longer-run jobs that demand better quality.

Mark Hunt, director of marketing at Standard Duplicating Machines Corp. (Andover, MA), concurs: “There seems to be a trend toward the ‘micro-bindery’ most basic bindery options in a commercial printer's environment are available for the quick-print environment.” He adds that developments in quick-print bindery equipment tend to mirror those in the high-end market, with a growing need for convenience, automation and pushbutton operation.

These qualities are especially crucial in small print shops, where skilled bindery employees are rare, and often the owner is alternating between ringing up purchases and operating a folder. In response, vendors are introducing bindery equipment that offer cost-effective yet efficient operation, a trend that will be noticeable at Print 01, which takes place in Chicago from Sept. 6-13. Following are some noteworthy show introductions, as well as newly debuted products for the quick-print finishing market.


“There are solutions available in the short-run quick-print arena that enable you to present professional-quality documents at a low price,” Hunt notes. “You can put product on the table comparable to that from a commercial-grade machine.” Standard will introduce machinery for booklet-making applications at Print 01. The company recently added the DocuFeed DF9 to its line of document-finishing systems. The automated, offline bookletmaking system finishes offset stacked documents that have been imaged on high-speed or clustered laser printers. It consists of a Standard DocuFeed and a Horizon SPF-9A bookletmaker, which staples, folds and face trims documents at speeds up to 2,100 booklets per hour.

A.B. Dick (Niles, IL), distributor of Watkiss finishing equipment, will feature the Watkiss SpineMaster at its Print 01 booth. According to postpress product manager Steve Cutler, the binding machine affixes a square back on stitched books to give a perfect-bound appearance. “It gives the appearance of perfect binding without the cost,” he explains. Also, Watkiss systems which were formerly custom-built to client specifications will now be available in standard low-, mid- and high-range configurations. Cutler notes this can speed up delivery time for printers that don't require a specialized machine.

A.B. Dick also distributes ISP Stitching & Bindery Products' (Racine, WI) Stitch'n Fold bookletmaker, an inline and standalone finishing system that can jog, stitch and fold more than 65,000 booklets at a maximum speed of 2,300 booklets per hour. Its variable work thickness capacity handles jobs from two sheets to 100-page booklets without adjustment or setup changes.

New at Heidelberg (Kennesaw, GA) is the Bindexpert perfect binder. The binder alternates between hotmelt and dispersion gluing, depending on paper type. It features three time programs for cover nipping and adjustable glue application via an adjustable glue-metering device. Its maximum speed is 300 cph with a maximum book length of 17.2 inches and thickness ranging from two sheets up to 1.6 inches.


Graphic Whizard's (Mississauga, ON) FinishMaster 100 portable tabletop perf/score/slit machine has individually adjustable accessory holders, which are said to provide easier blade change, and a production rate up to 10,000 sph. The floor-model FinishMaster 150 has a 30-inch register board and conveyor outfeed delivery. It operates at speeds up to 20,000 sph, making it ideal for mid- and long-run finishing. The FinishMaster 200 has a vertical air feed, reportedly enabling the operator to load up to four times more paper than a conventional air feed.

Rollem Corp. (Anaheim, CA) recently introduced the Auto-4 CPS automatic number/perf/score/slit machine, which has a computer console that stores specifications of frequently run jobs. The unit also offers batch counting and can apply multiple numbers on a single sheet. It accommodates sheet sizes from 4 × 4 inches to 18 × 23 inches, and up to 40-pt. board. According to marketing manager Susan Corwin, the machine is ideal for quick-print shops, “as owners can eliminate sending out jobs for finishing and increase their own profit on scoring and perforating jobs.”

Count Machinery Co. (Escondido, CA) just introduced its Count Air-Pro Plus automatic number, perf and score machine, which it will show at Print 01.

Müller Martini (Zofingen, Switzerland) is debuting the Valore entry-level saddlestitcher.


GBC (Northbrook, IL) will showcase its Modular Series of finishing stations, including the MP2500ix punch. Rated at 16,000 sph, it can punch up to 29 sheets per lift. The punch offers nine different die sets to accommodate popular binding styles. The die sets slide into place, eliminating tools and locking levers and facilitating quick changes.

“We're combining productivity and versatility, while giving users an expandable platform,” notes Amy McManus, senior product manager, desktop equipment. “The top of the punch is flat, allowing any Modular Series bind station to be stacked on top for space savings. For a large job, the units can be separated so that two operators can work simultaneously.”

The MP2500ix can be paired with GBC's CC2700 color-coil, TL 2900 twin-loop and PB 2600 plastic-coil binder finishing systems.

The punch features die set labels that mark the pins to be removed when punching different sized documents. McManus says ease of use was a key design consideration. “If the user knows exactly what to do, he or she becomes more efficient,” she notes.

GBC will also display the 4500 Pro Series Laminator for laser printer output. It uses thermal or pressure-sensitive adhesive pouches from 1.5 mil to 10 mil thick and up to 18 inches wide. Other applications include foil certificates, mouse pads, point-of-purchase signage and customized pocket folders.


Spiel Associates (Long Island City, NY) has debuted its Sterling Drill, which offers three-inch drilling capacity, variable stroke speed, a stepped side guide and 5.75-inch throat depth. The heavy-duty, floor-model hydraulic drill uses two- and three-inch drill bits, and drills holes from 0.125 to 0.5625 inch wide.

The Challenge Machinery Co.'s (Grand Haven, MI) EH-3C three-spindle hydraulic paper drill features multi-hole drilling, a 2.5-inch drilling capacity, flexible backgauge adjustments, an automatic drill return and an optional auto-trip side guard. Drill heads are available in sizes from 0.125 to 0.5 inch for two-inch capacity, and 0.25 to 0.5 inch for 2.5-inch capacity.


When upgrading folding equipment, it's amazing what improvements one feature can add. Nix On Time Printing, a quick-print shop in Columbus, GA, recently invested in a right-angle attachment for its tabletop folder. “It was obvious to anyone that folding an 11 × 17-inch sheet down to 5.5 × 8.5 inches with a single tabletop folder was a real time-eater,” says owner Roy Nix. “We had no idea! Next we will find a floor model so we do not have to hand-feed a tabletop folder.”

According to marketing manager Mark Pellman, Baumfolder Corp. (Sidney, OH) will introduce a floor-model folder featuring a proprietary technology that reduces setup time.

Graphic Whizard is debuting the FoldMaster 250, a 17-inch air-feed folder rated at up to 25,000 sph. It folds sheets up to 15 inches wide; remove the upper fold plate, and it perforates or scores stock up to 17 inches wide. Perforating, scoring and slitting are performed before the fold rollers via individually depth-adjustable accessory holders. The folder also features a counter, speed control and optional batching.

Heidelberg is introducing the TI-40 flat pile feeder. It comes standard with combination buckle plates, and has a small footprint, just like the company's entry-level Quickfolder tabletop folder. One feature of note is that the feeder including its pump and delivery system is on wheels, for greater mobility. Its handles stock with a maximum size of 15.75 × 25.5 inches. Heidelberg Stahlfolder product manager Brigitte Cutshall notes that an optional second station is also available with a pneumatic gatefold attachment for work requiring miniature folds.

Standard Duplicating Machines recently introduced its DocuFold suction-feed paper folder, which boasts folding speeds up to 21,900 sph. The fully automated folder features a paper-feed system that handles curled, static-charged or glossy paper.

Count Machinery debuted Count-Fold CAF-435, an 18-inch digital folder.


Robb Gould, vice president of marketing and sales at Challenge Machinery, notes that the Titan 200 20-inch programmable paper cutter is especially popular among the company's quick-print customers. The cutter features hydraulic clamping and cutting, adjustable clamp pressure, a menu-driven LCD screen, and optional false clamp plate and 12 × 19-inch side tables.

Swaneck Graphic Equipment Inc. (Boardman, OH) recently introduced its Pro-Cut 235 D cutter, which has a digital readout, microprocessor, two carbon steel inlaid blades and two cutting sticks. The 23.5-inch cutter reportedly has the same clamp and knife force as most 26.5-inch cutters, and features optional safety beams, book-trim guides and 12 × 21-inch side tables. The model 265 D 26.5-inch cutter has a digital display, power backgauge, variable-pressure clamp control, 20 × 26-inch side tables and 5,000-lb. hydraulic clamp and knife force.


At Print 01, Challenge Machinery will introduce the CMT 330, a fully automated three-knife trimmer. According to Gould, an operator can enter and store information for trimming up to 99 different book-block dimensions, ranging from 4 × 6 inches to 9 × 12 inches and up to two inches thick. After selecting the desired program, computer-controlled servo motors adjust the trimmer to the new dimensions, and the machine is reportedly ready for production in less than 15 seconds.

Duplo is debuting its 433PB three-side, semi-automatic book trimmer. Product manager Kevin Palmer notes the system is ideal for printers that “want to do near perfect-bound books but without a large guillotine cutter.” It can also be utilized for trimming oversized paper.


Baumfolder will introduce an affordable vacuum-feed collating system “for the customer that needs to collate coated and heavier covers, which a friction-feed collator cannot feed,” notes Pellman.

Standard Finishing's Hunt says his company has a new focus on entry-level collating applications, and will be making collator introductions at the show. The company currently offers suction and friction collators, including the SpeedVAC 100 series, which can collate 20 sheets at more than 7,500 sets per hour. Up to six of its 10-station towers can be combined for a total of 60 feed stations.


Although offline finishing is still predominant in quick-print shops, bindery vendors are introducing inline solutions that offer production efficiencies for smaller runs. A partnership between Müller Martini, Océ Printing Systems (Poing, Germany) and Hunkeler (Zofingen, Switzerland) has resulted in the Amigo Digital binder. Consisting of an Océ digital printer and front end; Müller Martini Amigo perfect binder, and Hunkeler unwinder, cutter, delivery mechanism, stacker and evacuation system, the machine boasts a rated speed of 1,000 books per hour. Its interface is a joint development between Müller Martini and Hunkeler.

The digital binder has a standard, 8.5 × 11-inch cover size, but can bind any book thickness from three mm to 40 mm. Océ will showcase the Amigo Digital at Print 01 in booth #5730. According to Andy Fetherman, Müller Martini manager of digital finishing, “This is just the beginning of our work with Océ.”

Duplo will be launching the DSF 2000, a medium-level sheet feeder for the digital marketplace. “It takes digital output from a Xerox or other brand of digital press, and then counts and numbers the sheets,” explains product manager Kevin Palmer. “It also has a paper inverter, so if there's a mistake in the job run, it can fix it without the operator having to reshuffle the sheets.” The sheet feeder also features an optional barcode scanner and feeder cover.

Duplo will also offer the DC545, previously sold through Xerox as the DC535. The device takes four-color output from a printer, and by reading a registration mark or bar code, can set up a job for four-sided trim, gutter cuts, three-knife slitting and scoring.

Rollem USA's new Champion 990 Turbo air-feed system features a patented feeding system that reportedly prevents cracking or marking. It also has adjustable scoring and perforating heads, and can handle stock up to 14-pt. cover with speeds up to 18,000 sph.

Mailing services for profit

Quick printers interested in transforming their bindery into a profit center may want to consider mailing services. Traditionally the territory of mailing houses, mailing services is a natural fit in many print shops. Quick printers have a reputation for great customer service, a selling point that can help them compete against mailing houses relying on an outside sales staff. In addition, small printers offer a special niche: mailings up to 20,000 pieces.

Nancy DeDiemar, president of $1.4 million Printing Resources of Southern California (Upland, CA), began offering mailing services about 10 years ago. “It is really a good fit with the bindery area of a typical print shop,” she observes. “With a committed sales effort, the results have been pretty spectacular now mailing services contributes 23 percent of our overall sales volume.” This number is twice the sales volume from copying.

As a result of such success, DeDiemar founded the Mailing Services Group (MSG), a special-interest group of PrintImage International (Chicago). MSG currently has 250 members. Its mission is to provide advice on technical, educational, operational and planning aspects of mailing services. Members also receive a bimonthly newsletter, written by DeDiemar, that covers all aspects of commercial mailing.

DeDiemar notes that to establish a mailing services operation, printers typically invest in about $30,000 to $35,000 worth of equipment, including mailing list software and a computer on which to run it, a tabletop inkjet addressing system, a mailing machine, postage meter and a label-affixing/tabbing machine. In addition, a pre-existing folder and collator can be adopted from the bindery for mailing use. Printers interested in handling insert work can perform it manually or subcontract it purchase of an inserting system isn't necessary.

In terms of personnel, DeDiemar says it is fairly easy to cross-train bindery employees on mailing equipment. In addition, you'll need a staff member dedicated to mail-list management and database operation. “He or she would be the same type of hire as a desktop publishing or electronic prepress person,” DeDiemar notes. She adds that it's not uncommon for the print shop owner to do the initial database development.

Printers also need to learn about postal rate categories and the delivery times for each mail class so they can advise customers. Production staff should know how mail is qualified and how to bundle it.

The requirements can be dizzying, but DeDiemar insists that shops can strike a balance with print work and mailing services. “You have to develop a workflow because mailing dates are much firmer than printing dates,” she cautions. But, “if you can hit the mail date, workflow is set up to hit the print date.” There is also more incentive and need to manage your customers.

One final word of advice for printers that decide to offer mailing services: Make friends with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). DeDiemar observes that although it is popular to deride the agency on its delivery capabilities and bureaucracy, printers would be wise to treat the USPS with respect. After all, it sets mailing guidelines and issues permits to prospective mailers.

For more information on MSG, contact DeDiemar at (909) 981-5715 or e-mail: Also see the August 1999 feature, “Stamp of approval,” at

Bindery and finishing survey

PrintImage International's (Chicago) 2001-2002 Binding and Finishing Survey, compiled by quick-printing consultant John C. Stewart, president of Q.P. Consulting, Inc. (Melbourne, FL), will be available on Sept. 10. A comprehensive survey of bindery pricing and practices, it features feedback from quick printers on such topics as shrink wrapping and boxing prices, scoring charges, folding rates and pricing on bookletmaking, perfect binding, drilling, padding and numbering. For more information, visit