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"Lay-Flat Binding" | Paper Moisture Affects Trim | Letters

Q: Will you please help me understand what "Lay-Flat" binding is and how it differs from OTABIND and conventional Perfect Binding?

A: The term "lay-flat binding" is widely used-and often confusingly. Lay-flat binding goes back to 1980 when a publisher in Finland decided to attack the problem of "mouse-trapping" in perfect-bound paper back books. This is the familiar tendency of paperbacks to snap shut unless you "break the spine"-which of course, weakens it.
Working with Muller Martini, the world's largest book-bindery machinery manufacturer, The Finnish publisher developed a new binding process called "OTABIND," which differs from perfect binding in two ways:
The pages are held together with cold glue (PVC), which is more flexible; and the pages are not attached to the inside cover spine area, but instead to a free-floating "cap". The cover is held on, not by spine glue, but by the first and last pages being partially glued to covers 2 and 3.
As with any new process, "There are always imitators producing their own versions of lay-flat bindings, often at the expense of quality..."(Publishers' Weekly, June 28, 1991). Some are marketing books as "lay-flat bound" because they claim their adhesive is highly flexible, but the pages are still glued directly to the cover. The original lay-flat process-OTABIND, available at Bindagraphics-remains the best, and as a patented process, enjoys legal protection: a publisher, printer or binder not licensed by OTABIND can face legal action if they use the term in marketing their imitation process.

-Marty Anson

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Q: We recently were fined by the G.P.O. because it appeared that a perfect-bound book we produced for them had been trimmed with a dull knife, and/or that we used a short cover. Actually, the uneven appearance came about because the pages had taken on moisture and grown beyond the original trim size. What solutions are there to this problem?

A: This is most common with heat set, web-folded signatures, when the oven (drier) takes the moisture out of the paper. If the paper is trimmed before it has time to adjust to the surrounding relative humidity (R.H.), it will expand after cutting as it takes on moisture. The problem is made worse if these sigs are combined with other sigs or a separate cover that were sheet-fed printed at a comparatively high R.H.; these may, in fact, shrink, while the web sigs expand.

There are three possible solutions:

  1. Double-trim the book-the second time 2 to 3 days after original trimming, when the moisture content of the paper has reached equilibrium; or
  2. Delay trimming and binding until the printed and folded signatures have had time to condition; this will take several days-longer if the signatures are bundled. An uncoated signature with a closed head and/or face contributes to the growth problem. Once trimmed, the head and face will grow immediately.
  3. It's important that the web oven be checked to insure that the temperature is kept as low as possible to minimize the amount of moisture taken out of the paper. Most web ovens are kept between 270° and 300° to prevent ink off-setting, but many times the temperature can be lowered without affecting the product. Adding to the problem may be web paper that doesn't contain the proper amount of moisture to begin with. The printer or his representative should notify the paper merchant of his responsibility concerning proper moisture content.

-Barry Heyman
John D. Lucas Printing Co.

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Dear Greg {Whisnant, Sales Service Rep}:

Thank you, your staff and the entire production team of Bindagraphics for help in making the GraphTec so easy. Your tireless pursuit of meeting schedules that have become increasingly demanding does not go unappreciated...

Your continued work on {deleted} and many of our other clients is a reason for our success with them and I just wanted you to know that it does not go unrecognized.

Keep up the good work!!!

Jay Goldscher
Director of Marketing

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Dear Mr. Anson,

Print-broker's nightmare #13. It's Thursday before the Good Friday-Easter-Passover weekend, the client...calls and says they are out of folded billstuffers! They must have 100M trimmed & folded billstuffers in CANADA by MONDAY!!@#@#!!?!@#!...OR ELSE!

Bindagraphics to the rescue. Both printers (Walman Graphics & Pace Press) who worked on the original project recommended Bindagraphics as the people in Baltimore who could handle it. It could be done?


Paul was GREAT: intelligent, professional, competent, responsive, resourceful, courteous & patient.

My compliments to him and everyone at Bindagraphics for all their help. You certainly are doing things right and it shows. THANK YOU!

Russ Pinieri
Pinieri, Inc.

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Bindagraphics, Inc.  2701 Wilmarco Ave, Baltimore, MD 21223-3352 USA
1.800.326.0300  · tel 410.362.7200  · fax 410.362.7233

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