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Perfect Binding

Perfect binding is arguably the most popular method for binding soft cover books today. It is fairly inexpensive and fast to produce large quantities of books with fairly minimal risk. This is because the ethylene vinyl acetate ("EVA) glue which used is an uncomplicated hot melt glue that sets quickly. Books can be handled within minutes after binding. A few minutes later the books can be tested. If anything has gone wrong with the binding process, the finisher can usually find out about it quickly.

The Multi TT320 perfect binder - the biggest-selling single-clamp perfect binder in Southern Africa and easily the strongest perfect binder in the world.


Unfortunately perfect binding has a few important drawbacks:

  • The glue does not have good penetrating ability into paper fibres. In order to combat this deficiency the pages of books are first "nipped" or cut with steel blades. This produces a serrated "sawtooth" effect which gives the glue a greater surface area to adhere to. As the blades pass through the book's spine region, a fair amount of noise and dust results.
  • Perfect binding results in a fairly thick spine layer of EVA glue. This spine greatly resists bending. This means that perfect binding has particularly bad layflat qualities. Pages tend not to want to lay flat. If the book is forced open aggressively, the spine tends to snap with an audible crack. After that the pages will fall out and the book is ruined.
  • Perfect binding works reasonably well with cheap, porous paper such as newsprint. Phone directories are a good example of true layflat results from a perfect binding process. On thicker, coated and more expensive paper, the layflat qualities are rapidly compromised. This means that the more expensive the book, the worse perfect binding performs.
  • Perfect bound books often do not stand up well to extreme use. Books that are constantly handled and pages both frequently and aggressively are more prone to damage than the more expensive binding technologies.
  • Perfect binding tends to fail under extreme temperature conditions such as extreme cold and extreme heat. Books used in cars that will be parked in the sun, or in arctic conditions, for instance, will most likely suffer damage.

     With perfect binding being so relatively easy to offer, it may be worth considering the consequences of important jobs that go wrong. Anyone interested in seeing what consequences there can be when using cheap machines and careless operators may want to visit the Perfect Binding disasters page.

Perfect binding disadvantages outweighed by advantages

     Fortunately the fact that perfect binding is so inexpensive and easy to deliver that this generally outweighs the disadvantages to a reasonable degree. Indeed, this is the main reason why perfect binding continues to be the binding method of choice for most books produced world-wide. In other words, it is not a perfect solution, but it is the most practical one the industry has to offer to the mass market.

     In the past, perfect binding used to be a very problematic technology. Today, the glue and machines are a lot better.

     For years Syncrom Binding and Finishing Systems has been manufacturing what they boldly maintain to be the strongest perfect binding machine in the world. It has by far a superior pull strength, even on coated stock, compared to the alternatives in the market. This is what has made the Syncrom TT range the biggest-selling single-clamp perfect binding solution in Southen Africa.

     But there are still customers and applications for which perfect binding will absolutely not do. For such customers, the most popular choices have usually either been PUR binding or Smythe sewing. Both options are slow and expensive. But they do result in very strong books with extremely good layflat qualities.

An even better solution available

     Today it has become possible to marry the advantages of much more expensive layflat technologies with the simple, uncomplicated qualities of perfect binding.

     When Syncrom Binding and Finishing Systems developed the vorTEX/////doublebind machine, they wanted a machine that could produce true layflat books of unparalelled strength that would still use EVA glue. After much experimentation, this was finally achieved when a method was developed which coated not only the ridges of pages, but also applied glue in-between them. This new technology is known as doublebinding.

     The result was books that has three times the GPO pull strength, yet were still layflat! In practice, whichever the page is torn, the paper will tear, but it will not pull from the binding. You cannot get stronger than that. When the paper fails before the binding does, that's the maximum a book can be bound by any means.

Another bonus is that doublebinding dispenses with the need to cut the spines of books. Gone is the need to replace cutting blades, gone is the dust and      gone is the noise of perfect binding. With doublebinding the pages are separated by compressed air before the glue is applied. The benefit is that cutting is now no longer needed at all.

     One thing that users need to bear in mind is that since doublebinding uses the same EVA glue, it remains subject to the same temperature limitations. Users are advised to always enquire about the end-application of the customer's books.

     It should also be born in mind that layflat qualities of books depend on the following factors:

  • The thickness of the cover
  • The thickness of the pages and type of paper
  • The thickness of the book

     This makes perfect common sense to any book finisher. Very  thin books do not have good layflat qualities no matter what binding method is used. Very thick pages will not lie particularly flat. Very rigid paper types will also not bent easily. And thick book covers will resist the layflat qualities of the content pages.

The most affordable layflat ever!

     The question may now be asked - does doublebinding come at a premium? The good news is that the price is so attractive, even small finishers and printers can afford it!

     Doublebinding uses a thinner version of standard EVA glue so users who are already familiar with EVA will already understand the medium. As for the vorTEX/////doublebind it is priced in the medium price range of perfect binding machines. This means that anyone who could afford a decent perfect binding machine can afford a much superior technology!

     The vorTEX/////doublebind machine is currently available in a single-clamp model only. It produces books at a rate of approximately 250-300 books per hour, which compares with perfect binding machines in this catagory. This makes it the machine for big jobs for small printers, and it also makes it the machine for small jobs in the hands of big printers.

     The vorTEX/////doublebind  is available through Syncrom's network of distribution agents. Enquiries are welcomed. For South African enquiries, please contact Yolanda Polsen or Johan Potgieter at www.silvertechnology.co.za (former Transvaal, Free State and Natal regions). Alternatively contact Chris Fourie at www.bindingequipment.co.za (Entire Cape region).

     For all non-South African enquiries, please contact Herman Labuschagne at the contact details below, or by clicking to the Request a quotation page.

     Dealers will be happy to hear that international distribution agencies are available for the vorTEX/////doublebind . Please visit our Distribution agency page to see how your company may become a Syncrom distributor.

Will there still be a market for perfect binding in the future?

     Since doublebinding is so soundly superior to perfect binding technology, the question may very well be asked - "Will perfect binding still exist in the future?" The answer is simple. Perfect binding is so soundly entrenched in the market worldwide that it will certainly not go out of existence any time soon. It is still a technology that is so inexpensive that this fact alone will underwrite it's existence.

     However, as more and more customers start insisting on the benefits of doublebinding, there is no doubt that perfect binding will be used less and less. Already most finishers who have seen doublebinding in action return home knowing that their relationship with perfect binding is over. The advantages of doublebinding  are simply too powerful to dismiss. However, there will remain a number of customers who produce publications for which layflat quality and super-binding strength is simply not needed. There are also some applications, such as binding photo books, for instance, that really do not need double-binding.

     Since the vorTEX/////doublebind machine has become available, about 95% of Syncrom's customers have elected to purchase the vorTEX instead. Nevertheless, the TT320 perfect binder will continue to be manufactured and supported for customers who want a simple, immensely robust, and uncomplicated machine that delivers the best pefect binding results in the world.

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Contact Information
+27 (44) 805 7109 (International enquiries)
+27 (44) 878 0559 (South Africa enquiries)
+ 27 (44) 878 0559 (Factory)
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