What should I know about thermal binding?

posted this on Jul 2, 2015

For professional-looking securely bound documents that look like perfect bound books, thermal binding is a great way to go. This heated binding style helps you create high quality presentations, reports, proposals, documents, and more, without requiring any punching or inserting. And the variety in both soft and hard cover choices allows you to create a product that is virtually the same as a commercially produced book. Thermal binding machines are simple to use, with versatile options and fast results. Here are a few things you might like to know before starting to use thermal binding: 

  1. Thermal binding is one of the easiest binding systems to use as well as one of the fastest. Simply slide your pages inside the cover, put the entire project into the machine when heated, and then let it cool when finished. Many machines even let you edit your book to add or remove pages by re-heating, making the necessary change, and letting it cool again. Your project can be finished in a matter of minutes.
  2. The best way to ensure you get the results you want is to choose your thermal binding cover wisely. Each cover will have a different look and feel. The most common design consists of a linen weave paper back and spine with a clear front. Called a utility cover, this offers an economical solution for thermal binding. Companies looking for a more polished look for their presentations and proposals often opt for binding covers with windows made on special paper stocks and may include a customized company imprint. A few businesses are even willing to pay for a four-color offset printed thermal cover for the ultimate in customization.
  3. When choosing your cover, getting the correct size is vital. Thermal binding covers are required and come with the adhesive already applied to the spine. If you are thinking about creating a custom printed or embossed cover, it is especially important to have the right size thickness the first time or you may be waiting several weeks to have an error fixed. Thicknesses can range from 1/16″ (with a V spine) up to two inches thick, which translates to as many as 475 pages.
  4. For higher end presentations and proposals, thermal binding hard covers and photo books are the way to go. If you decide to use one of these items, you’ll want a machine with an adjustable temperature setting; hard covers require a higher temperature. You will also need a hard cover crimper to finish off your covers. Without a thermal binding machine equipped with an adjustable temperature setting, you may have to run your hard covers through the machine a few times to ensure that the glue is fully activated.
  5. When preparing your materials for binding with your thermal binding machine, be sure to completely square up the pages in your cover so they come in full contact with the glue in the spine. After the book is finished, firmly tap the spine on a counter or table while still hot to ensure each page is firmly lodged in the hot binding adhesive before setting it down to cool.
  6. For short run publications, specialty reports, and other highly specialized applications, you can make your own thermal binding covers. Although a somewhat tricky process, it saves time and money from having to order and then wait for your covers. Simply print your one piece cover, score it for the correct size, add a thermal binding glue strips, and use your thermal binding machine to finish the process. 
  7. Finally, when choosing a thermal binding machine, make sure to find one that best fits your needs. If you are looking to bind documents from home, a popular machine is the Coverbind, personal binding machine. This machine is one of the smallest binding machines on the market and is ideal for setting next to your computer and printer. Additionally, if you are looking for a thermal binding machine for your office, there are many options available. 
 
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