Are there tricks to binding hard to bind papers with Fastback Binding?

posted this on May 24, 2016

Thermal binding, or the process of binding paper using a combination of heat and an adhesive has always been a convenient binding style for users looking for a quick, secure bind. End-users like thermal binding for that reason; its one of the fastest binding styles, and it creates a bind that has permanent-like qualities, adding security to the document. The overall speed of producing a thermal-bound document is far superior than traditional binding styles found in comb, coil and wire style binding. There are however a few drawbacks to thermal binding systems. I will introduce this problem and its characteristics followed up by a solution to this problem that adds another positive element to thermal binding.

Thermal binding has been the perfect solution for customers looking for a quick, securely bound document. However, traditional thermal binding limits the variations of paper stock the user can use with their particular system. Thermal binding works fine on a variety of thicknesses of paper including various cover stocks but has problems with coated paper. For example, glossy stock has a hard time staying bound because the adhesive in a thermal binding strip has a hard time penetrating the paper fibers which in turn creates better adhesion. This fact alone has limited the applications of thermal binding.

A company called Powis Parker (the manufacturers of Fastback tape binding) recognized this as a flaw in thermal binding applications and came up with a binding strip available to alleviate this problem. The strip is called a “CP,” or “color pro” strip and is available for the Fastback 15xs thermal binding system. The strip is specifically designed to work in conjunction with your color copier and can bind up to 32# text. The dynamics of the adhesive are much of the same as a normal super strip except there is a larger amount of adhesive down the center of the strip specifically formulated for hard-to-bind paper stocks. This means glossy, thicker paper stock can now be bound in thermally. The process is the same as normal fastback binding except the bind time runs for about 45 seconds as opposed to 20 seconds with the normal strips. With this introduction of the CP strip Fastback has set themselves aside as offering the most versatile binding products in the market offering a simple solution for thermal binding and the problems with glossy stocks.

However, even the new CP strip has its limitations. Certain high gloss paper stocks and coated photo papers will not bind properly with the CP strip. Additionally, full bleed digitally printed sheets may not interact well with the high heat needed to melt the extra adhesive used in the CP strip. In fact, the ink and toner can sometimes melt or deteriorate during the longer 45 second binding cycle. For organizations facing these issues, there are two primary options available…

  1. Powis Parker developed a special machine called an edge splitter. This machine literally splits the edges of the pages in your book block. The split edges will allow the adhesive from standard binding strips to adhere to high gloss photo papers and full bleed digital prints. For high volume applications this is an excellent option. However, for short run users this can be a cost prohibitive solution.
  2. A second option is to stitch or staple the edge of the document or book prior to binding. Using staples, stitching wire or mechanical fasteners will prevent any single page from falling out the book block. If you carefully staple or stitch the book block close to the edge of the paper, the binding tape will hide the staples or fasteners. However, it is important to note that this option can make it more difficult to open the bound document and will prevent you from opening your document flat.

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