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A staple offering of many print businesses, Print Monthly takes a closer look at some of the latest developments and advancements in bookletmaking technologies, analysing the core advantages for users

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Duplo rolled out its DBM-700 bookletmaker in November last year

Bookletmaking Brilliance

While much is said and written about the importance of diversification – and rightly so given the level of competition in the current market – print service providers (PSPs) should also ensure that they continue to offer high quality core services to their customers.

Staple services such as business cards, flyers, leaflets, and brochures will always be in demand from customers, and ensuring you have the right sort of equipment in place to deliver such work will help retain customers in the long run. Also included in this group of services is booklets, with demand for these products constant.

With this in mind, Print Monthly speaks with several manufacturers and suppliers about the latest and most popular offerings in bookletmaker technology and how these machines can help PSPs continue to deliver quality work to customers across a range of markets.

Rising Demand

Duplo has a number of bookletmakers in its range, with the latest being the new iSaddle Senshi, its flagship booklet production system that launched in March this year.

iSaddle Senshi, Duplo’s new flagship booklet production system, launched in March

The Senshi introduces multiple tower collators and a chain-driven saddle while also using stitching and trimming technology from the existing iSaddle 5.0. A typical configuration would have six collating towers, feeding flat sheets into a folder to drop on a saddle or a previous section.

“Designed to meet the demands of fast-paced operations, this machine offers unmatched performance, ensuring high-quality saddle-stitched booklets with efficiency and reliability,” Duplo UK head of sales Craig Harry says, adding: “Key advantages and impact for PSPs include flat-to-finished book, meaning no need for folded sections; significantly reduced makeready times; increased productivity; end-to-end automation; and the intelligence to handle the increasing number of short runs and complex jobs with ease.”

The new launch means Duplo now has five stages to its bookletmakers: DBM-150, DBM-350, DBM-700, iSaddle 5, and now the iSaddle Senshi. The entry-level range is the DBM-150 bookletmaker, available as hand-fed with a four-edge trimmer but can also be fitted with intelligent towers or a digital sheet feeder.

Next, the DBM-350 range has options for either digital or light commercial print runs with the same towers and digital feeder as the DBM-150. Moving to the next stage and the range for the DBM-700 bookletmaker launched in November last year.

“We’ve already upgraded several customers to the DBM-700 because of the improvements to the last generation, but mainly due to the high quality of the square spine module and the fact that the range can now process 60 sheets/240-page booklets at high speeds, consistently and at very high quality,” Harry says.

The Duplo DBM-700 bookletmaker range can process 60 sheets/240 paged booklets at high speeds

With this, Harry goes on to talk about the importance of investment in new bookletmaking technology, saying standing still in this market and relying on older, outdated equipment could mean degrading the quality of booklets being produced.

“Quality will always play a huge factor in any finishing system, but because booklets are so commonplace, producing a poorly executed booklet or a run of booklets that are not consistent will damage both the brand of the printer and the customer,” he says, adding: “Since most designers don’t understand print, they don’t factor in errors in registration or take into account the difficulties of lining up pages, so a printer has to take extra care to produce a better-quality product so as not to enhance any mistakes from print to finishing.

“Automation in booklet production adds to this. It helps the production remain consistent and highlights errors early on. This is increasingly important simply because the number of jobs at shorter run lengths are increasing and are the new norm – so we’ve made job and format changes much easier and faster to complete throughout our bookletmaker range – allowing operators to concentrate more on the quality of the products being produced.

“Despite shrinking print runs, demand for high-quality, personalised booklets is still high and rising.”

Stand Out from the Crowd

Elsewhere and Morgana Systems also acknowledges the demand for booklets, with Ray Hillhouse, vice president of sales and marketing for the Plockmatic Group Offline Business Unit, saying this is stronger than ever.

“Our customers are certainly seeing growth in the demands for booklets of all shapes and sizes,” Hillhouse says, adding: “With the continued growth of digital production, end-users are recognising that short runs are now very affordable. Runs that might well have been prohibitively expensive to print on a litho press, because of the fixed pre-press costs, are now possible with digital equipment, where even a run of just a few copies is now quite possible.

O Factoid: Plockmatic Group acquired Morgana Systems in February 2013 O

“Printers should always be keen to make their offering stand out from the crowd. In bookletmaking that could be finishing a product with a square back, or in the range of sizes that it can produce. Printers that fail to invest can easily find themselves missing out on orders because of a lack of finishing solutions available in-house.”

Printers should always be keen to make their offering stand out from the crowd

As for what is available from Morgana, the manufacturer used The Print Show 2022 to launch its Morgana BM4000 Series of bookletmakers. These machines can produce both A4 landscape and 297 x 297mm booklets, with the ability to staple and fold booklets of up to 140 pages (BM4035) or 200 pages (BM4050).

For those PSPs looking to bring this process in-house, Morgana offers the BM 60, which is billed as an entry-level bookletmaker that can saddle staple and fold booklets of up to 22 sheets of 80gsm paper, giving up to 88-page booklets to the user.

Morgana’s DigiBook 450 comes as standard with an automatic cover feeder

Moving up, the BM5050 and BM3050 can staple and fold up to 50 sheets of 80gsm, as well as handle sheets of up to 620mm in length, to create booklets of up to 200 pages. Models are equipped with heavy duty and low maintenance stapling heads, also using 5,000 staple cartridges.

For additional options, Morgana offers the BM5035S and BM5050S, both of which are equipped with the latest stitching head, giving operators the ability to adjust the length of the stitch for thicker books without using tools.

Delving further into Morgana’s expansive range, the manufacturer supplies the Morgana PowerSquare 224VF and 160VF, both billed as complete book-making systems for the production of offline books of up to 224 pages and 160 pages, respectively.

Meanwhile, a second, perhaps more significant change, in post-press book binding has seen the development of short-run PUR binding products over recent years. Hillhouse says Morgana has led the way here with its DigiBook range, which features machines that he says offer a variety of production speeds to suit almost all print businesses.

“The DigiBook is a truly innovative binding machine designed and built for today’s market requirements,” Hillhouse says, adding: “It is easy to use via a touch screen panel with icon graphics that allow the programming of all precision operations in just a few seconds, including start-up and shutdown.”

The entry-level PUR product in the range is the DigiBook 200, suited to both litho and digital printers that require short to medium runs of PUR perfect bound books to a professional standard, and runs from a standard power supply. The machine can produce up to 200 books per hour.

Also in this range is the DigiBook 300XL, which provides for up to 300 copies per hour, a binding length from 100mm through to 450mm, and a spine thickness from 2mm up to 50mm, and can also run from a standard power supply. The top of the range DigiBook 450 comes as standard with an automatic cover feeder, as well as production of up to 450 books per hour.

 In addition, addressing trends related to mechanical twin-loop wire binding, Morgana offers the DocuBind Pro VFX. This features the high-speed Morgana VFX vacuum feeder, running at up to 140 pages per minute, the StreamPunch VFX heavy-duty punching and creasing module, and the eWire VFX twin-wire automatic binding solution, engineered by GBC.

Excel With Automation

Also weighing in here is Intelligent Finishing Systems (IFS), whose managing director, Eric Keane, says booklets and related materials remain a trusted way to communicate and share information, and as such demand very much remains.

“What has changed, however, is the way they can be produced,” Keane says, continuing: “Moving away from long runs towards short runs, runs of one, print on demand. This ensures cost-efficient production of the volumes required. With highly responsive post-production solutions a diverse range of jobs can be quickly and easily completed.

“With increasing focus placed on highly automated solutions the latest systems are more able to eliminate bottlenecks and aid smoother throughput. These have been specifically designed for minimal operator intervention, perfect for when finding skilled employees is a challenge, and light indicators provide real-time production status that can be easily viewed from a distance. Jobs can be programmed, stored, and queued for seamless production. Affordable automation elevates productivity and profitability.”

So, what does IFS have to offer? Keane says the next evolution of the StitchLiner Mark III saddle stitcher achieves high quality booklet production at speeds of up to 6,000 booklets per hour. The new system also incorporates Horizon’s cloud-based iCE LiNK workflow as standard.

Keane explains that improvements have also been made to productivity, such as the ability to manage changeable speeds without stopping while the fully automated system can better cope with a sequence of very short run products in a range of paginations. Users can set up the machine using its intuitive touch panel.

The Horizon iCE StitchLiner Mark IV also has a number of new design features that Keane says aid easy operation. These include a status light that indicates, at a distance, how the system is running, and an ergonomic design where all the operator-required actions are on the same side.

Also available from IFS is the Horizon SPF-FC200L, an A4 landscape booklet production line incorporating the highly automated features of the SPF/FC-200A bookletmaker, combined with the ability to feed A4 landscape sheets up to 640mm in length.

The feeding system can run at a speed of up to 42,000 sheets per hour with A4 short-edge feeding. In addition, the main feeder, cover feeder, accumulator, CCD camera device, and barcode reading device can be arranged in various configurations, while a CR-400 bleed crease can trim the head and tail of each sheet from the HOF (high ouput feeder) and crease each page to improve the flatness of the stitched book.

With demand for booklets showing no sign of slowing down, the onus is on PSPs to ensure they have the machinery in place to be able to provide quality printed pieces to customers across all markets.

The good news for print companies is that there are plenty of options out there for them to consider adding to their production line-up; careful examination of the market and speaking with suppliers and manufacturers can help them make the right choice and put them on the path to more success.

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