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9 ideas for better on-demand binding

Mar 1, 2003 12:00 AM

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On-demand projects offer different finishing challenges than long-run, high-volume jobs. Quick setup and turnaround times are essential — poor planning will severely impact production schedules.

Saddlestitching, perfect binding and mechanical binding all have different layout and trim requirements, which may affect how the book is printed. The same is true for other finishing processes, such as folding, gluing and laminating. Here are some key considerations.

  1. Perfect binding

Grain direction is critical — for the binding to be attractive and durable, the paper grain should be parallel to the spine of the book. Maintaining proper grain direction, however, may compromise layouts that are optimized for fastest print throughout. A project printed two-up on 9 × 14-inch stock — a common size for quick-print applications — will likely have the wrong grain direction for perfect binding.

Proper trim margins are also important. In addition to a ⅛-inch grind-off margin at the spine, leave at least a ⅛-inch trim margin on the other three sides. In addition, a ¼-inch glue trap at the foot of your covers will help prevent glue from seeping onto subsequent covers during binding. This may require you to print covers on a different-size stock than the text sheets.

  • Mechanical binding
  • Be sure to leave ample punching margins between your copy and the spine edge. For Wire-O projects punching 3:1 (three holes per inch), leave a margin of at least ⅜ inch. For 2:1 Wire-O books, the margin should be at least ½ inch. To clarify, that's the margin from the spine edge of the sheet to the edge of the hole closest to the spine.

  • Saddlestitching
  • Because it can be performed inline with several ancillary functions, saddlestitching is often the most economical binding option. At Seaboard Bindery, we can gather sheets, stitch, fold and face trim in a single pass, which is ideal for short-run, fast-turnaround projects. Saddlestitching is most appropriate for thinner books, such as guides and newsletters.

  • Folding
  • Layout is critical. Most binding styles have defined margins that must be met to bind the book. Folding layouts, however, can be tweaked for optimized production, or to allow an intricate diecut. A slight variation in layout can mean the difference between smooth, automated production and costly, time-consuming handwork.

  • Collating
  • Many quick printers automatically collate sheets once they come off the press. Although this may save time for some applications, it may increase turnaround time on others. Index tabs, for example, may need to be kept separate from the text. This allows both the tabs and text to be punched automatically, although the tabs may have to be inserted by hand.

    Pre-collating may also be detrimental to some mechanical-binding projects. Thick covers on a Wire-O book, for example, may need to be punched separately from the text sheets prior to collating and binding.

  • Tab reinforcement
  • If your application will include index tabs, it may be a good idea to reinforce them — especially if they will be used in a ring binder. Mylar is a laminate that can be applied to both the tab area and the spine, ensuring that your tabs will last even in high-abuse applications. It's also available in several colors to match the rest of the book.

  • Gluing
  • Keep glue areas free of inks, toners and coatings. Any substance that gets in the way of a paper-to-paper bond can compromise glue adhesion. For projects such as self-mailers and portfolios, it may be necessary to knock out inks, toners and coatings from all glue areas.

  • Laminating
  • Film laminating is a great way to make book covers and other applications more durable. But toner chemistry is incompatible with many types of laminating films, which could pose finishing problems. Fortunately, there are laminating films formulated specifically for use with toner. Talk to your trade binder or postpress department before printing to prevent any surprises later in the production cycle.

  • Scoring
  • Thick stocks may require scoring. Projects printed on 80-lb.text stock and heavier or with heavy ink coverage may need to be scored prior to folding. Scoring can be performed inline with folding or as a separate production step, depending on quality and turnaround requirements.