Impel’s book yatra ensures a user workshop at Thomson

Mumbai-based Impel Services (Welbound), the post-press and book specialist has marched on with their Value Add Adhesives programme at the book major’s factory

17 Sep 2019 | By Sriraam Selvam

The day-long event held at Thomson Press’ Faridabad unit saw the participation from the company’s sales, planning, and quality control departments.

“The objective of the training was for the sales team to understand customer requirements better. Communicate with the production planning team, and ensure the production and QC have a clear understanding of the requirements and thereby improve delivery,” said P Sajith, director, Impel Services. The initiative called Value Add Adhesives was launched by Impel’s partners Henkel Adhesives. A brainchild of S Sunilkumar, the business director of Henkel Adhesives India, these engagements aim at helping the Indian book print industry to understand costs as well as quality in the right perspective. 

Suresh Nair, CTO, Impel, who is known as one of the bookbinding experts in India, held the session which was attended by 25 people. “Sometimes the customer’s demands are not as per standards like thick covers with thin books, lamination inside covers, text on book spine that cannot be read with the naked eye, colour breaks on thin spine, covers without opening creasing and so on. The need to communicate with the publisher or the design agency to follow standard practices is much higher than ever before,” said Nair. 

He helped the sales team understand these requirements, better than before. Nair, however, feels that this would need more significant interactions between the print buyer and the printer.

“In their need to stay differentiated, the print buyers are probably employing impractical methods,” he added.

The quality control department wanted to understand the acceptable tolerances, be it for spine thickness, adhesive coat layer, spine to fore-edge, and so on. The session also saw discussions on frequently encountered issues like first and last page opening, web growth, mouse trapping, etc.

As one of the leading players in PUR binding in India, Thomson’s production team had innumerable questions. Nair feels this is an indication that India is PUR ready.

The training then focused on the machines with the settings of the Muller Martini Allegro discussed elaborately with hands-on ways to improve the finishing better, including the setting of milling station. Thomson Press recently installed the Muller Martini Allegro and has state-of-the-art facilities for producing high-quality books, efficiently.

“The missing link of this value chain knowledge adoption was the print buyer, and we hope one day we will be able to have them join the printers, discussing these issues,” concluded Nair.

Commandments for a perfectly bound book

Sriraam Selvam (SS): Grain direction should always be parallel to the spine?
Suresh Nair (SN): There are no exceptions to this golden rule unless you want a book to flip back when you try and open it. So maybe, “A book on mousetraps” could use grains perpendicular to the spine.

SS: Can a book with 600 pages be section sewn plus bound with PUR. Any specific advantage? 
SN: By cover pasting a thread-sewn book block using PUR, the book printer can provide better flexibility and lay flatness. It also offers protection against extreme temperatures where EVA hotmelt could crack or melt.

SS: Is end paper compulsory? What is the function?
SN: End papers are compulsory for hardbound books. They are used for casing in the book block onto the hardcover. It ensures that despite the stress of heavy hardcover on the joint, the book block does not come off from the cover.

SS: Is the cooling time for PUR application different for different page counts?
SN: The quantity of adhesive applied and the time to cool is directly proportional. However, there is no limit for PUR with respect to the maximum or minimum number of pages. Adhesive binding, in general, is suggested for books of a thickness of more than 5mm, so that rule applies here as well.

SS: PUR seemed ineffective for books printed on thicker paper (150-175gsm+) in terms of lay-flat. Why? 
SN: In the case of thicker paper and thick books, the process of milling and micro-notching will influence the open-ability of the book. PUR as an adhesive is best suited for lay-flatness due to its elastic nature. However, the glue cannot help if the grain direction or the back milling and notching processes are incorrect.

SS: Lay-flatness issues have been observed in most Indian books. Few samples had an exposed spine or they had a dual bind to overcome this problem. Your view?
SN: These processes are used when the cover – hard or soft – prevents the book block from laying flat. So by leaving a gap between the two, one can achieve the lay-flatness (Otabind).

SS: What is a good stitching thread that you recommend?
SN: Best threads are the ones with a polyester core and a cotton-blend on the outer. Surface polyester provides the strength and machinability and the cotton ensures anchoring and bonding strength.

SS: How can a publisher or an end-customer ensure spine correctness?
SN: There are calculators which help you arrive at the thickness of a book, given the number of pages, grammage of the paper, and bulk. A good idea is to have dummies made using the same process as you would finally do (with the same machines and consumables), in the case of a large project.

SS: There are tremendous amounts of value addition on covers. Does it affect the binding quality?
SN: There are many considerations for selecting the hard cover, be it size or thickness that are based on the book block. The post-press process on the cover or the material used need not affect the quality of binding.

SS: What is Flexi Binding?
SN: Flexi Bind is something between a paperback and a hardback binding. The end result is a lightweight book with a flexible cover and usually with a signature round spine and endpapers. The book will lie fairly flat when open, which makes it convenient to use.

SS: Slipcase has become “mandatory” for a lot of specialty books this year. Why and for what is this slipcase trend?
SN: Slipcases not only turn your project into a beautiful display that stands out on any bookshelf but also protects your books from dust, light, and damage.

SS: A lot of book blocks in India continue to be a manual process. What is the cross-over unit for making book blocks through manual operations?
SN: The fully automatic machines for case-making, casing-in and making the book block are all expensive. The entry-level machines do not provide the quality of what can be achieved through skilled manpower. Till date, we do not have affordable machines that make top-quality cases, book blocks or to do the casing-in job. We are working on developing the same. 

SS: What is the best way to pack the books during transit, so that the edges don’t curl or books don’t get damaged?
SN: Stack the books on top of the other, in a manner where a book just below another will be inverted, with the fore-edge aligned with the spine of the other book. Packing them into good quality corrugated boxes/shipper cartons is absolutely essential.