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Mar 1, 2010 12:00 AM

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The digital camera has sparked a new generation of photo archiving, the photo book, bringing a new dynamic to consumers, commercial printers and equipment manufacturers. From glossy wedding albums to high-end marketing pieces, commercial printers and OEMs must stay ahead of current trends as photo books reign as the new standard in photo archiving. As many printers add photo book production to their mix of capabilities, industry experts agree that quality and automation are essential.

“After the initial surge of interest in producing photo books, many [printers] have now started to focus on producing books of a better quality. An example of this would be the migration from desktop systems that are dependent on proprietary supplies that are usually sold by the equipment supplier,” says John Jacobson, president, On Demand Machinery (Elizabeth, NJ). “While the desk-top systems offer a fine entry point, many quickly gravitate toward production solutions that rely on traditional bookbinding methods. Not only are these traditional methods more cost effective, they usually adhere to a higher quality standard,” he contends.

Jim Kaeli, manager of Muller Martini's (Hauppauge, NY) book and publication binding division, agrees: “Customers who purchase photo books are looking for top quality, fast turnaround time and product consistency. They also want an easy-to-use interface that allows them to customize the books to individual preferences without confusing or frustrating the customer.” Kaeli maintains this “customer experience” is one of the top issues for photo book manufacturers. “Photo book manufacturers want equipment that fits well with their current processes and workflow, is easy to use, is highly reliable, and can be expanded as their volumes grow,” he says. As volumes grow, Kaeli says some users are finding that manual production equipment for casemaking and casing-in cannot keep pace, and highly automated equipment is given greater consideration.

Makeready times and waste factors must also be considered before adding new equipment. “Because of the one-off nature of photo books, the equipment must have zero makeready, and the waste factor needs to be as close to zero as possible,” says Jacobson.

On the following pages, AMERICAN PRINTER offers the latest equipment in photo book production equipment. From manual photo book workstations to high volume binding machinery, today's equipment is readily available and designed to meet the still growing needs of the printing industry.

Lay-flat binder

This new, economical, lay-flat perfect binder binds books stronger than PUR, according to Spiel Associates (Long Island City, NY). The Sterling Doublebinder will bind up to 300 books per hour with no messy clean up. The books dry instantly. This new technology produces a lay-flat book by gluing not only the spine — but between the sheets. It will bind coated stock stronger than any other machine, the company reports.


Next Page: Automated casing-in

Automated casing-in

The automated Super Sticker casing-in machine is simple to operate, self-adjusting and requires no special skills or makeready, according to On Demand Machinery (Elizabeth, NJ). The machine is ideal for high-volume hardcover bookbinding production. This cost-effective machine can produce up to 600 books per hour. An optional auto-feed attachment works seamlessly with ODM's high-volume Super Smasher building-in machine. Additional features include an easy-to-use control panel, a roller glue station for rounded and backed books, three-position blade height control, and removable glue stations for fast and easy cleanup. An optional extra paste attachment (for additional hotmelt adhesive in the joint area) is available. Minimum size: 4 × 4 × 1/32 inches to a maximum 11 × 14 × 4 inches)

Smasher XXL is simple and safe to operate. The operator places the cased-in book into the machine and depresses a foot pedal that brings the top joint iron in contact with the book. Heated joint irons aid in forming the joint by reactivating the adhesive in the joint area and softening hardcover materials such as library buckram and film laminates.

ODM machines are said to be ideal for entry-level hardcover bookbinding production. They are built in the USA, work seamlessly with the ODM case-making system and are CE approved.


New line introduced at PMA 2010

Unibind's (Alpharetta, GA) new CBCC12, which debuted at PMA 2010 in February, binds covers and book blocks, along with case sheets if they are being used, using a special binding resin. It cases-in by crimping the heated spine and gluing the case sheets to the spine. It automatically cools the heated spine so that the finished books can be handled immediately for packing, etc. No special skills are required to operate this machine. A preprogrammed panel makes adjusting the binding temperature as easy as touching a button. For maximum operator safety, both the loading and unloading trays are closed while the machine is operating. Although designed to match the performance of the companion automatic bookmaker Casemaker 750A cover maker for offline production, the CBCC12 will work with any cover.

Introduced at Print 09, Unibind's CaseMaker 750A wraps personalized prints around the pre-assembled books, allowing printers to make unique hard covers. The system is capable of making, piece-by-piece, high-quality, fully personalized hardcover cases at 400 books per hour, the company reports. It can handle formats from 8 × 8 inches to 12 × 14 inches and different spine sizes according to the user's own binding equipment and preferences. The user-friendly machine offers fast operating times and is said to reduce inventory cost. Additional benefits include improved consistency of quality and speed, and reduced startup and changeover times.

This FSC-certified machine is environmentally friendly. The system does not use glue or chemicals during the casemaking process, to enhance the safety and cleanliness of the working environment.

Like the CaseMaker 750A, the BCC10 allows printers to improve output and productivity with a capacity of 400 books per hour. The machine uses Unibind's patented resin steel-binding technology and works automatically for firmly bound books with minimal labor. The BCC10 is loaded and unloaded manually. It guarantees maximum operator safety as it was engineered to only be operational when the trays are closed. The machine can be adjusted for various spine sizes and formats through the use of a crimping tool. The crimping tool pinches the steel spine according to the amount of pages inserted in the hardcover to reduce the amount of spine size needed, while at the same time improving the binding and the overall aesthetics of the books. The machine also comes with a touchscreen for easy binding temperature adjustment.


Ultrashort-run book binding

The Standard (Andover, MA) Horizon HCB-2 case binder brings ultra-short-run hardcover book production to print-on-demand environments. The system allows hardcover books to be produced with more automation and less operator skill than ever before, with a professional quality that is equivalent to the look and feel of a commercially casebound book. Applications for the HCB-2 include the on-demand color photo and memory book markets.

The binder is ergonomically designed and simple to operate. An optional barcode verification system ensures the correct matching of cover and book block, and it can produce up to 180 books per hour. Operators simply enter the book size on the color touchscreen, and the display guides them through all case preparation steps with a high degree of automation. Horizon has applied its automation and bookbinding expertise to simplify the case-binding process for short-run efficiency. Book blocks can be EVA or PUR adhesive-bound on a Standard Horizon BQ-series perfect binder.


Photo book production for quick printers

The compact Fastbind (Miramar, FL) FotoMount F32 workstation is an all-in-one solution that combines Fastbind's FotoMount F32 Photobook Maker, the Ideal 4205 Guillotine with stand, the Fastbind FotoCreaser C33 and ergonomic rack. The workstation allows quick printers to create high quality photo books with all kinds of printed materials; photographic paper, and laminated material. The book cover can be either a standard cover or a digitally printed custom made cover. The workstation is manually operated and offers short production cycles.


Servo powered setups

The Diamant MC digital from Muller Martini (Hauppauge, NY) is said to meet the specific demands of today's photo book manufacturers, and more. It incorporates extensive use of servo technology — in an innovative configuration so that there's no need for manual adjustment during setup.

No changeover parts are needed for most photo book productions, allowing the machine to produce efficiently with extremely fast changeovers between lots, even when the thickness or the trim size changes.

In addition, the Diamant MC digital can accommodate variations in thicknesses in one production run. Book blocks and cases are matched with the help of a propriety scanning system that enables the line to run extremely reliably without errors or waste.

The machine is the perfect solution for efficient and high-quality photo book manufacturing highly adaptable to today's ever-evolving business models.


Perfect binder with PUR option

Duplo's (Santa Ana, CA) perfect binder with PUR functionality was recently added to its existing single clamp fully automatic perfect binder range. The DPB-500 PUR perfect binder is ideal for short- to medium-run perfect bound books printed digitally or on coated stocks. Producing a strong and flexible finish, this machine is suitable for a wide range of applications such as text books, annual reports, art books, instruction manuals or photo books.

Designed for use with a closed-glue tank system manufactured by Nordson, the DPB-500 PUR offers huge cost and productivity benefits compared to open-tank systems as it does not require draining after each use which means less wastage and downtime. Closed-tank systems are also not affected by dust or airborne particles and do not require the installation of fume extraction.

The machine runs at speeds up to 525 cycles an hour and is capable of binding a wide range of materials with a maximum booklet size of 14.17 × 12.60 inches and a minimum size of 4.72 × 4.72 inches. Cover sheet sizes range from 14.17 × 27.40 inches and 4.72 × 9.84 inches.

The DPB-500 PUR offers state-of-the-art automation to accommodate a range of specifications to set up a job efficiently which in turn leads to a reduction in downtime and cost. The integrated touch-screen control panel, which can also be used to adjust the movements of the Nordson system, makes the DPB-500 PUR very easy to use and results in a book-bound quality finish with minimal operator skills.

See and

Versatile adhesive solutions

Nordson's (Westlake, OH) BetterBook binding solutions provide comprehensive hot melt and PUR adhesive systems for soft and hardcover bookbinding, including premelting, side and spine gluing of perfect bound books or book blocks, and end papering for book blocks.

DuraPail and VersaPail bulk melters and the EP48V bookbinding gun are said to improve spine gluing quality with PUR hot melt adhesives that provide strong bonds and excellent lay-flat characteristics.

ProBlue hot melt adhesive melters, MC series melters, SureBead pneumatic guns and EP11 slot guns are designed to achieve precise, repeatable side gluing.

Increase efficiency of open pot systems by premelting hot melt or PUR adhesives with bulk melters or DuraBlue hot melt adhesive melters.

Other products available in the Betterbook adhesive system include the Seal Sentry series bead detection system and the PUReCure UV-curing system for polyurethane (PUR) application.


High-speed one-off production

New Bind's (Berkeley, CA) Adventure perfect binder does not require an external glue system and is able to run both hotmelt and PUR glue with no mechanical change over. It is easy to clean, easy to operate and reliable. A professional grade milling and notching station is included as are true side-glue applicators. Featuring a patented 2kg PUR system, the Adventure operates at up to 200 cycles per hour.

The company's Explore Series provides ease of use, quick makeready time, on-the-fly format change, and some of the lowest maintenance and service requirements of any machine in its category due to the integrated closed-glue application system used in all New Bind machines. The Explore Series allows for the production of high quality bound books printed in signatures or loose leaf. Though the Explore Series utilizes a sophisticated binding process ensuring high quality output, it still binds up to 500 books per hour. Both PUR and Hot-Melt glue can be run on the Explore with no need for mechanical changeover.

The Supra series of binding equipment is designed to provide economical production of superior quality books, even for short-run jobs. The Supra is available in five versions, all of which offer fully automated makeready for on-the-fly format changes. The entire production process is controlled by a single color touchscreen panel. Available glue systems include a 2kg closed PUR application system, a 9kg closed hotmelt system and the flexible twin PUR and hot-melt systems with patented flash cleaning. The machine offers mechanical speeds up to 1,300 cph, and book blocks also can be fed manually for short-run jobs.


Multi-function finishing

MGI USA (Melbourne, FL) debuted its DF360 5-in-1 multi-function paper finishing unit at Graphics of the Americas 2010. Designed to complement both digital and offset presses, inline functions include: duplex lamination that can include matte, satin or glossy finish; no lamination, or multiple finishes (i.e., matte on one side, satin on other); cutting (horizontal & vertical); Double-cut (automatic trimming to document bleed specifications); creasing (horizontal and vertical); and perforation.

The DF360 can accommodate sheet widths up to 360 mm or 14 inches and lengths up to 740 mm or 29 inches, making it appropriate for applications such as book covers (including flaps), brochures, tickets, business cards, photo books, invitations (with tear-off response card) and menus.


Full-bleed printing for photobooks

Holmberg's (Minneapolis) FlexBind is a digital photo sheet or “page” product. Available in different base stocks and sizes, the sheets have a integrated, flexible hinge that allows even the heaviest weight sheets to lay completely flat when properly bound.

Printers will benefit from a unique technology that adds no thickness to the page, resulting in trouble-free production. The hinge is integrated into the binding edge of the sheet. Users load their paper trays and print. Extended sheet sizes allow for full-bleed printing and trimming.


Nsenga Thompson is associate editor for AMERICAN PRINTER. Contact her at

Watch the birdie

Here are some photo book related items from our Twitter feed.

Taopix drag-and-drop photo book software lets users' customers create multiple page albums in minutes and upload to print servers. See

Brian Segnit, Xerox “Photo Guy,” discusses market potential and shows examples of photo applications:

Output for HP Indigo presses has received a Wilhelm Imaging Research (WIR) Display Permanence rating of approximately 45 years, said to be the first of its kind for a digital press.

Pixfizz W2P solution provides a fully hosted platform for selling photo books, calendars, etc. Key features include an online editor, marketing support (to help users sell the photo products) and social network integration. See

Blurb reported 2009 sales of more than $45 million. Blurb created and shipped more than 1.2 million books in 2009 — more volume than the company had shipped in total since its launch in 2006. See

“We printed and sold in excess of three million cards last December - more than double our December 2008 sales,” says Joe Kenemore, COO of SendOutCards. The iGen3 user plans to expand into the photo book and calendar markets in 2010. See

DigiLabs software enables users' customers to easily create and order customized photo books, cards and calendars. DigiLabs private labels and customizes its software to licensees for online submission. See

M-Photo develops and sells production floor management systems for professional photo labs and print shops. See

Pixami's Photo Site is a brandable customizable Web-based solution for the sale of personalized photo products. The system includes a complete e-commerce platform and an extensive back-end that delivers RIP-ready files. See

TAP Custom specializes in on-demand book covers. See