Perfect Binding

Definition: Method of binding magazines, books, and catalogs in which the pages are bound to the cover and held together by a thin strip of adhesive, forming a squared edge; also known as patent binding; adhesive binding. Perfect binding is more preferable over saddle stitching to a thick publication with many pages, such as Vogue magazine, since it makes it lie flatter when closed and the pages turn easily. Perfect binding is sometimes used to denote quality.



Widely used for paperback books. Adhesive is applied to the edge of the pages and the cover is wrapped around the pages creating a front, back and spine. A perfect bound book will lie almost flat when completely opened. It is performed by grounding the sheets at the spine, teasing out the fibres from the paper and putting small notches into the spine for the adhesive to flow into. For the best results, the spine area of the text and cover should be free from ink, varnish, sealer's and laminates. It is also recommended to that the grain direction of all both the text and cover follow the length of the paper grain.

The Perfect Binding Process:

There are several types of glue that are used for perfect binding and perfect binding machines are pretty specific with the types of glues that they use. Some glue is much stronger but they demand much more out of a machine. A bookbinder should consider what types of paper will be used for the books. Some types of glues will not work well for coated stock.

Beyond using glue to hold the spine of the book together, and the spine to the cover, some additional preparation must be done to the spine of the book (the book being bound can also be called the book block). If you just apply adhesive to an edge that is not prepared, you will get some very weak results. If you have ever seen a pad of paper, this is pretty much what is done. Adhesive is applied to unprepared edges of paper. In perfect binding, the edge of the book being bound is roughed up with some type of saw. This exposes paper fibers so it is more receptive to glue. The final result is a stronger bind.

Eventually a perfect binding book will need to be trimmed down. The three edges, not the spine edge, will have excess material trimmed away. How you designed your book in the printing process will determine how much needs to be trimmed away. Some people use a single blade cutter to trim down books and some take advantage of a 3-knife trimmer.

An example of simple perfect binding.

Traditional Perfect Binding

Perfect Binding is the way to produce books of the highest possible quality. Perfect binding with traditional machines applying the glue from the bottom has however, not been popular in the digital environment for several reasons. The traditional perfect binding machines on the market are relatively expensive. They are also large and noisy - giving old fashioned impression in modern environment. There are several adjustments to do before you can start binding: setting the cover according to the thickness, setting the level of roughener, the thickness of the book, warming the glue etc. This requires professional personnel to use the machines and of course it takes time.

In most traditional perfect binding machines new adjustments are necessary whenever the thickness of the book is changed. You also have to test the adjustment to check the binding result by binding a test copy. In the digital on-demand environment you may be doing only one or two similar books. All this has been so complex that most digital printers did not want to use perfect binding, even if the quality is superior to any other binding method.

With Fastbind perfect binding machines all that is history. Now you can just turn the Fastbind on and bind - no setup time, free choice of materials and perfect binding quality.


The History of Perfect Binding:

Perfect binding was first developed 1985, but didn't see common use until 1931. It was adopted by the German publisher Albatross books, when they introduced paperback books as an experiment. Over the next decade, it was used by Penguin Books in England and Pocket Books in America. Paperback books turned out to be a hit, with publishers making copies of popular classics and new works. However, these books made prior to the 1940's used a cold glue binding technique, which led to the glue becoming brittle and eventually cracking.
These early attempts at "Perfect" binding used traditional flexibilised animal jelly glue, but the concept really only became viable with the development of "Synthetic resin dispersion" technology. However, as this consisted of 40-50% water, in-line finishing machines had to be large, and therefore expensive, in order to incorporate drying facilities such as hot air carousels or high frequency drying.
It was not until the late 1940's when hot-melt glues suitable for book binding were developed by the plastics industry that the adhesive binding process become more cost-effective and therefore more widely used. The use of hot-melt as opposed to polyvinyl acetate (PVA) allowed much faster setting of glue as the adhesive sets a few seconds after leaving the glue tank. The advent of hot-melt gluing permitted high-speed in-line finishing and trimming on large binding systems and also the development of more modest adhesive binding machines in terms of output and cost.
Today, over 100 crores hot-melt adhesive bound books are produced in India alone, and this figure excludes magazines and periodicals. This is indicative of the worldwide growth and importance of the adhesive binding process, which is further emphasized by the fact that today, in addition to paperback books and magazines, more than one third of all case bound books produced in the UK and the USA are also perfect bound as opposed to conventional thread sewing.
During the 1980's perfect binding systems have continued to improve and become more specialized in materials handling aspects from one operation to another, in order to satisfy definite markets. Medium speed bookbinding with quick change over facilities to minimize downtime between varied short-run work. Like magazines, text Books, Periodicals, Telephone directories, Note books. Short run-bookbinding for comparatively low qualities of technical reports, internal reports, etc. as commonly produced in in-plant printing units.