Bound to Last
"We are doing all these [short-run] procedures on a range of equipment from library binding equipment to older edition equipment," Larsen adds. "It works but not as efficiently as it needs to in the long term."
Reducing Return Ratio
Bilomatik, SRS Short Run Solutions and Mekatronics are all developing equipment that apply longer run technology to the shorter run and on-demand market, Larsen says. The ability to reduce the amount of returns is the money-saving feature driving their development.
"Up to 40 percent of the books that are published are never sold," says Bill English, vice president of sales for Bilomatik. "The business model is there to [produce] more short-run manufacturing. For runs of more than a thousand, traditional methods are indicated. But for short runs under 1,000, this is a better technology."
Bilomatik anticipates installing an on-demand bookbinding system in the United States this year. The Bookmaster 360 can manufacture 360 books an hour in different sizes, either from a digital press or by taking shredded signatures and binding those together. English says the opportunity to introduce a system for efficient short runs came about with the advent of digital printing and the advances that technology has made in recent years.
"When Xerox brought out the DocuTech, that's when the printing got really good. It's just been in the past few years that there really is enough of the front end equipment to compete with offset. Book manufacturers couldn't look at digital printing before now."
English adds that in a few years, a digitally printed page will look just as good as an offset page and at a competitive price, proving that updates can be made to older technologies without reinventing the wheel.