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Revolutionary New Bookbinding Technology Launched
A local company develops a future-defining new solution to book binding problems.
June, 2009

This article may be freely reproduced, providing that the source is clearly quoted as: www.doublebinding.com

Ten years ago an idea was born in the garage of a house in George on the Garden Route. After many years as the owner of a large Pretoria printing company, and some experience working for Naspers, Wynand Boshoff had developed a clear idea of what he had always wanted as a printer. “At the time, perfect binding machines were scarce and hard to afford in South Africa,” Wynand explains. “As a printer, I was frustrated with the weaknesses and limitations that the available machines had. I knew I could build the type of machines that printers wanted.”

     Wynand’s first attempts at building his own perfect binding machines were humble. Long nights were spent building elementary prototypes and improving them. The machines that were sold under the name of Advanced Binding and Finishing Systems were ideal for South African requirements—they were affordable, the designs were based on rugged simplicity that yielded sophisticated results.

     Most of the binding and finishing machines he produced had unique features which solved industry problems that had never been solved by other machines in the world. The market received the new inventions with enthusiasm.

 “As a printer, I was frustrated with the weaknesses and limitations that the available machines had.

I knew I could build the type of machines that printers wanted.”


     Initially Wynand handled every aspect of the business himself. For the first three years he designed machines, built them, and drove enormous distances to market and install them for customers all over the country. Then, JC le Roux, a qualified instrumentation technician joined the business as co-director and sales kept increasing. The business grew rapidly. More machines were added to the range and as the market provided feedback, more innovative features were developed.


     Later, Hartwig Schroeder, an engineer of German extraction, joined the business as a third director. The business name had by this time changed to the present “Syncrom Binding & Finishing Systems”. The product range now consists of a range of binding and finishing machines such as numbering, scoring and perforating machines, as well as another world first—the smallest and most affordable sticky note manufacturing machine in the world, which incidentally, is also the only sheet-fed machine of its kind world-wide.


     Through all of this, however, the flagship products were still the perfect binding machines. Syncrom’s tests revealed that they had without a doubt developed the most effective single-clamp perfect binding machine in the world. By this time, several hundred had now been sold. Perfect binding was simple, affordable and effective binding method.


     It did have drawbacks, however. The spines of perfect bound books tend to be thick and rigid. They resist folding open flat, and the more expensive the paper, the worse the problem tended to be. Worst of all was that if the books were forced open too much, the spines would crack and the pages would fall out. This was a world-wide problem associated with perfect binding, which the industry had learnt to grudgingly live with.


     Syncrom had now grown into the largest supplier of single clamp perfect binding machines in the country. By this time, however, a new idea was brewing. Expectations were changing. Worldwide, the market was demanding Layflat books. PUR binding was the answer, but it was still too expensive and inconvenient for all but the biggest printers. The other alternatives, such as Smythe sewing and water-based glue binding was far too slow and expensive for most users.


What the market wanted was a Layflat product, but with all the advantages of perfect binding-style technology.


     What the market wanted was a Layflat product, but with all the advantages of perfect binding-style technology. Syncrom’s team insisted that they would come up with a solution. The team tested various approaches, and two years later they had an answer. The result was a machine called the vorTEX/////doublebind. To make it possible, Syncrom’s team had developed a brand new technology called “doublebinding™”, which has become a registered trademark.


     Doublebinding™ rests on the principle of applying a minute amount of very thin glue between every page in the book, in stead of merely applying it to the ridges of the paper, as is done with perfect binding. This is achieved by blowing ionized air in-between the pages before the book passes a glue roller. It sounds simple, but the actual technology involved in making this possible is quite advanced. It requires a combination of electrostatic forces or ionized air, as well as temperature, speed and pressure elements which all had to be perfectly matched in order to work. The glue used is a custom-developed thinner version of the standard ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA) glue known in perfect binding.


Doublebinding yielded a result that was far more than double the desired norm in industry.


     This resulted in a very thin, very flexible spine that could be bent back in a perfect U, without cracking. Doublebound books do not require noisy and messy “notching,” or cutting into the spines of books before binding. Syncrom’s tests revealed that the pull-strength of doublebinding yielded a result that was far more than double the desired norm in industry. The international GP page pull strength regards 3.5 lbs per linear inch as “very good”. Above 4 lbs is regarded as “excellent.” The vorTEX/////doublebind pulls a massive 6lbs! What this means is that the paper will tear long before the binding fails.


     “What we see here,” says Boshoff, “is the future of international book binding. Soon the market will insist on Layflat binding—it is already insisting on it. For many providers, the vorTEX/////doublebind will be the only practical answer.” With this end in mind, the vorTEX/////doublebind is priced within the reach of small- to medium printing and finishing establishments. He then goes on to claim that “for the first time ever, we have an alternative to PUR binding which is on par with PUR binding. Syncrom, however, embraces the PUR gluing concept and are planning on offering PUR as an optional extra mainly on the forthcoming six clamp machine.”


     The vorTEX/////doublebind has been launched on a country-wide road show last month. “The amount of orders and the enthusiasm we encountered everywhere,” Boshoff says, “has surpassed all our widest expectations. Every printer and finisher that sees a vorTEX/////doublebind wants to own one when they see what it can do towards raising he profitability of their business.” He maintains that the ability to offer Layflat binding opens markets to smaller businesses that they never could have touched before.


“What we see here,” says Boshoff, “is the future of international book binding.


     When asked about how doublebinding™ compares with PUR binding, JC le Roux, Syncrom’s technical director explains: “Doublebinding is complimentary to PUR binding. The Layflat results are the same, and all vorTEX/////doublebind machines are fully PUR-adaptable.” He believes that most users will find that when all factors are considered, they won’t need to use PUR glue after all.


     Syncrom is planning to establish a world-wide network of distribution agencies for the vorTEX/////doublebind, starting this year already. They expect that doublebinding™ will be received with just as much enthusiasm abroad as in South Africa. To this end, they are currently in the process of obtaining CE accreditation for the vorTEX/////doublebind.


     When asked about any future possible developments, Boshoff smiled and answered that a multi-clamp version of the vorTEX/////doublebind for high-volume producers is already in development and is expected to be ready by the end of this year. After that, there is another even higher production unit planned, as well as several other innovations. “Our insistence on supplying to solutions to industry problems that others have regarded as insurmountable is what has brought us to where we are today in such a short time,” he said. “We will continue to do what we do best.”



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