medicine and uses

A good day for perfect binding

Jan 31 2013

Amy and Honey at the Horizon BQ-270

Here at 1984 we do a lot of perfect binding. No, no, we don’t mean that our bindery skills have gone to our heads! Rather, “perfect binding” is how you put together a paperback book with a flat spine. By contrast, a zine or magazine usually has a “saddle stitched” binding — which isn’t stitched at all, it’s stapled. Confused yet?

Here’s a more technical description of the journey of a perfect bound book:

For a typical, half-size perfect bound book, we start by collating large flat sheets of your book with four pages that have been printed on each side of each sheet and a blank colored slip sheet added to the end of each set. We cut these sets in half and marry the two sections together. Then we cut it in half again, and voilà! we have a book block ready to turn into a softcover paperback book.

Next, we drop the book block into a slot on Amy’s favorite machine at 1984, the Horizon BQ-270 perfect binder. This machine clamps the book block and moves it over a fast spinning saw blade, which mills notches and ridges into the book spine so that it will hold onto glue easily.

That’s the next station on the machine: spinning rollers coat the book block with melted hot, animal-free, starch-based glue. Then it quickly travels to the next station where a cover has been automatically fed in from a stack at the right side of the machine. Before getting this far, the cover already has passed over some scoring wheels to give the finished books a square spine and a lovely hinge score.

The fancy awesome machine places the gluey book block right on top of the cover. The table beneath the cover rises up and nips the cover around the book block. The machine brings the newly-bound book all the way back to where it started. A trap door opens and the book drops underneath to a vertical stacker. And then we do it all over again. The whole process for one book takes about 10 seconds. Once we have a stack of books, we bring them to the cutter, trim the excess paper off of three sides, and box ’em up!

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