Binding for Digital Short-Run Book Projects
A lot of progress has been made in offline hightech bookbinding equipment, as well as with inline systems. The good news, Clockel says, is that equipment manufacturers have devised exciting and practical prototypes for the future. He predicts that in about a year, case binding will be as efficient as digital binding.
"Staffing, makeready time and throughput have always been obstacles when dealing with traditional binding quality requirements, as well as with the collated sheets output by digital sheetfed and web presses." In the past, Clockel says, long makereadies and skilled-labor requirements reduced digital print engine efficiency and made shorter print runs difficult.
"At Drupa this year, we saw a future that included a perfect binder, where every book could be a different size, a casing inline with a five-minute makeready, and casemaking equipment with virtually no makeready. There was even thermal stamping equipment, whereby in less than 15 minutes you could produce a quality product," he says.
However, in the short-run book manufacturing business, Clockel says, speed isn't as much an issue as it is in conventional manufacturing. "When your typical run is 100 to 300 copies, you worry far more about the makeready time on the piece of equipment than the running speed. Moreover, with the advances in computerized set-ups, the training time for operators is greatly reduced. So, the reduction in makeready times, the skill level requirement of the operators, and the overall cost of the equipment has shed new light on the future of ultra-short-run, digital book manufacturing."
Clockel sees good competition among bookbinding equipment manufacturers who are recognizing the changes in business dictated by the efficiencies of digital print engines. "If the product is going to change, and digital print engine sales would strongly indicate that it is, these bookbinding equipment manufacturers are going to have to change, too, or be left out of the market," Clockel says. "The hyped e-book business is only going to impede so far in the traditional book market. What will always be left is shorter runs of a conventional book product."