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Go-to glue

Jul 1, 2009 12:00 AM

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For some printers, polyurethane reactive adhesive (PUR) has replaced EVA as the go-to adhesive of choice for perfect binding. PUR can be a more challenging material to work with than standard hotmelt adhesive, but for many jobs, nothing but the strongest, most durable bond will do. According to Stan Smith, vice president of manufacturing for Progress Printing (, “Many customers, especially if they've had bad experiences or they're technically savvy, want the assurance of secure pages and demand PUR. We have taken the approach that PUR is the right material to use — it's the right technology, the most current and the most advanced.”

In business since 1962, Progress Printing is a general commercial and high-end catalog/publication printer with a 200,000-sq.-ft. operation in Lynchburg, VA. “Our history with perfect binding goes back a long time,” says Smith. “We do high-quality, short-run work, both saddlestitched and perfect bound.” The pressroom houses three manroland offset presses — one 40-inch sheetfed, one 16-inch web and one 32-inch web — and two HP Indigo digital presses. Progress recently upgraded its postpress operation with the 12,000-cph Corona C12 from Muller Martini (Hauppauge, NY). “With that machine, we increased our pocket count and added a fair amount of automation,” Smith notes.

Confidence in the finished product

With the new Corona C12, Progress Printing chose to make PUR the standard offering on all of its perfect-bound jobs. “[It] allows us to deal with virtually any substrate, and coatings aren't a problem,” says Smith. “It's really raised our confidence that we know if our operators apply the right film of PUR glue, we are not going to have books falling apart or pages falling out.”

Progress does make use of EVA for jobs with a high page count and those that are going to be stored and finished on demand. “If we have a job that exceeds our pocket count, we will use hotmelt EVA to make book blocks and then come back through for a second pass,” Smith explains. “If we're making book blocks that are going to get digital covers, or if we're going to store them for a customer, we'll use EVA, then later grind the EVA off, apply PUR and apply the cover.”

Most of the perfect-bound jobs Progress produces range from 25,000 to 50,000 books, occasionally running over 100,000. Smith and the Progress Printing team worked with Muller Martini to incorporate an automated palletizer and streamfeeder for the perfect binding line. “We tried to build as much automation into it as we could,” says Smith. “The binder line itself is integrated, from the master control panel to the trimmer to the palletizer.” Currently, Progress Printing is exploring further automation through integration with the pressroom.

Tips from a bindery pro

“You've got to have a lot of experience. It's not something just anybody can run,” says David Jacobs, president of Atlanta's oldest trade binder, H&L Binders ( Jacobs and partner Marty Grogan have 60 combined years of bindery experience. H&L's current Pantera perfect binder is its fourth Muller Martini machine, and Jacobs says a fifth is on the horizon.

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“The milling stations that grind the spines off [for PUR binding] are a lot different than just perfect binding. You've got to have a perfectly clean book block to put that stuff on,” Jacobs explains. “I think it's more efficient than EVA, but EVA is easier to work with. PUR is more expensive, and we use it mainly for annual reports, high quality books, and coated and difficult stocks. You don't necessarily have to use it for newsprint or offset sheets.” The Pantera, which H&L started up in November 2008, can run both types.

“PUR is a scary glue,” Jacobs says, explaining that you can control how much glue you're putting on the spines, but you can't open the books for several hours while they cure, and you can't rework them. “Once they've set up for their max curing time, you can't pull them apart with two cars. You've got to hit it right up front.”

H&L Binders has increased its output by 25 to 30 percent since November, in this tough economic climate, which Jacobs credits to the new Pantera binder. “You've just got to keep up with technology and you've got to know what you're doing with it when you get it,” he says.

Flexible product options

“A great thing about PUR is the ability to run all different stocks,” says Greg Sookiasian, operating manager for “It doesn't matter what kind of paper is on the inside of the book or the cover — the PUR binds it.”

With a total of 150,000 sq. ft. in its two locations in California and Kentucky, runs two Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 105 and two Speedmaster CD 102 sheetfed offset presses, as well as five digital presses. It also has a full stable of postpress equipment, including automated Polar cutters with Compucut programming. The firm's more than 300 employees provide promotional marketing and general commercial printing services.

In September 2008, Sookiasian and his team stepped up to meet their customers' demand for PUR binding. They installed Heidelberg's (Kennesaw, GA) Eurobind 1300 PUR four-clamp adhesive binder, which made its debut at drupa 2008.

The Eurobind 1300 runs at up to 1,300 cycles/hr. and can be supplied with hotmelt or PUR adhesive. Its sweet spot falls at 7,500 books, and it accepts up to 11.81 × 14.17-inch books at up to 1.77-inch thickness. Built to provide fast makeready and changeovers, it features an automatic jogger in the block infeed, high-performance spine preparation, nozzle application, and a vertical cover feeder with integrated double scoring. The cover pressing time can be adjusted to the product for a reliable bond and precisely shaped block spines.

Today, sends prospective customers a PUR-bound book promoting its ability to produce and bind a wide variety of stocks and printing methods. The company offers standard jobs from saved templates as well as custom work. “When our customers ask for something, we do what is needed to provide it,” says Sookiasian.


Better bond for books on demand

“We wanted to get away from EVA, especially in the winter time,” says Rob Wilkinson, plant manager for Nies/Artcraft (, a Consolidated Graphics company based in St. Louis. In winter, he notes that cold temperatures and shipping times can have a big effect on EVA glues. “PUR is a little more pliable and a stronger bond,” he says, adding that working with a PUR glue system allowed the company to continue to increase page counts and expect a positive end result for the customer.

The company runs a full range of digital, offset and flexographic equipment, and also provides mailing and fullfillment services. “We are very diversified in what we do here,” says Wilkinson.

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Nies/Artcraft installed a Horizon BQ-470 PUR binder from Standard Finishing (Andover, MA) in August 2008, when the company launched a new on-demand book business with a fleet of 15 HP Indigos. “We felt the BQ-470 was a very good fit for our application. It had been in the market and was proven with the Nordson glue system on it,” says Wilkinson. “We also have local service available, and the technical staff is outstanding to work with.”

The BQ-470 four-clamp perfect binder features automated setup and touch-screen control. It is rated for up to 1,350 perfect bound books per hour, with four clamps that travel on a vertical elliptical track. It can bind books up to 2.5 inches thick, and interchangeable glue tanks support EVA and PUR adhesives.

This one binder keeps up with Nies/Artcraft's digital book output. “We haven't reached capacity yet with this machine, which would be 24 hours a day,” Wilkinson notes. “We have this unit running strategically over several shifts, but only for a certain amount of time.” The binder produces 700-800 books/hr. on long runs. Nies/Artcraft is yielding 100 to 350 books per hour, depending on format and page count changes. “We don't do all the same page size,” he explains. “There are eight possible products that might be going through that machine at any given time, with different spine widths.” The simplicity of changeovers and ease of operation factored heavily into this equipment purchase.

Another benefit of PUR, Wilkinson says, is that you can print to the edge of the paper. “When you grind off and open up the paper fibers, the glue stays bonded to [the surface],” he explains. “With EVA, you cannot run the ink all the way to the spine edge. With PUR, we print with no holdouts needed.”

Wilkinson and the Nies/Artcraft team are investigating adding an automatic calibration system to the binder. “For us, the BQ-470 PUR has been a good, solid purchase,” he says. “It's helped us reach a new plateau in this digital world, and I only see it continuing to grow and progress.”

No-sew textbooks

Bound to Stay Bound (Jacksonville, IL), a third-generation family owned prebinder of juvenile books, prints only covers and adheres them to bought-in textbooks using the Horizon BQ-470 PUR binder. The firm has a 106,000-sq.-ft. facility, 235 employees and a $35,000,000 sales volume.

“We use the PUR binder as an alternative to sewing on narrow-margin books, attaching an endsheet with reinforced back lining to the book and then case-in with a hard cover,” explains supervisor Joe Eilering. “We made the decision to add PUR after extensive testing proved that a PUR-bound book met the high standards required by the Library Binding Institute. We felt that the addition of the PUR equipment would allow us to expand into on-demand binding and some other specialty type binding, including paperbacks.”

The firm currently binds 10% of its books on the BQ-470 PUR. An additional 10% are double-fan adhesive bound, 70% are side sewn and the remaining 10% are oversewn. The average run length for Bound to Stay Bound's BQ-470 is 140 books, at an average format of 8.75 × 7.25 inches at 0.25-inch thickness.


Short to medium-run options

Duplo USA Corp. has added PUR functionality to its single-clamp automated perfect binder line. The DPB-500 PUR, which launched at Drupa last year, is built for short to medium runs on coated or digitally printed substrates.

It uses a closed glue tank system manufactured by Nordson, which doesn't require draining after each use. Closed tank systems are also unaffected by dust and do not require fume extraction. Its integrated touchscreen control panel can be used to adjust the movements of the Nordson system.

Like Duplo's standard-adhesive DPB-500 perfect binder, the PUR model runs at up to 525 cph and handles a maximum booklet size of 12.6 × 14.17 inches (minimum 4.72 × 4.72 inches).

Sealed PUR applicators

Valco Melton's (Cincinnati, OH) MPUR series hotmelt slot coat applicators are designed specifically for use with polyurethane adhesives. MPUR sealed systems offer considerably reduced maintenance and associated labor costs. Zero-cavity module design prevents premature adhesive cure and eliminates adhesive buildup. Standard coating thickness ranges from 0.3 to 1.5mm with pattern widths up to 720mm.

Modern bookbinding

“I was sure that producing short-run books on demand was where we needed to go, and that Internet order entry, digital printing and automated perfect binding was how we were going to get there,” says Rob Lehmann, production manager for Lehmann Bookbinding (Kitchener, Ontario), a family-owned business founded in 1913.

The firm is Canada's largest bindery serving the library community. It recently extended its trade and on-demand services to customers across southern Ontario, specializing in short to medium runs of softcover and case-bound books. As demand grew for quick turnarounds, Lehmann and his sister and co-owner, Lisa Cvar, found it was time to make some major updates.

The company upgraded its digital print operations with a new, larger-format Xerox color printer and a high-speed monochrome system. Lehmann discovered C.P. Bourg's (New Bedford, MA) BB3002 binder. “It allows a range of setups and it's easy to control, right down to the amount of glue that's applied, just by pushing a button,” says Lehmann. “There are no screws to turn, no nozzles to fix, and it can be set up in seconds.”

The BB3002 near-line binder, with a Nordson PUR application unit, features an icon-driven operating system displayed on a color touchscreen. Most functions are set digitally. Bourg's Symmetrical Cover Registration enables the binder to measure thickness automatically as it clamps the book block, then calculate the center line to account for varying book thicknesses. The BB3002 binds up to 600 books per hour from 3.5 × 3.9 to 12.59 × 15.15 inches.

“PUR opens new doors for us by giving us a lot more flexibility,” says Lehmann. “Books coming off the machine are nice and clean, square and solid. They're a pleasure to send out to our customers.”