What exactly is a SquareBack book?

The most productive way to produce short to medium run booklets is to take the complete set and then stitch, fold and trim.  However with higher paginations, this method has always been limited by the appearance of the finished book – the more sheets there are, the more the book will ‘gape’ at the spine.

You can try to overcome this by crushing the book (by passing it through additional sets of rollers), however experience shows that pressure alone will not produce a flat book.

SquareBack™ books
Booklets showing the effects with, or without, a SquareBack finish

The answer is to clamp the spine of the book and pass a roller along it, reforming the spine into a square profile.  There are two ways to do this – either as an extra process that takes traditional stitch-fold booklets and transforms them into SquareBack™ booklets; or to incorporate the spine forming into the booklet making process so that it becomes part of the folding mechanism.

Whichever way you do it, there are many benefits –

  • Appearance – superior square-¬spined appearance of a perfect bound book, but with the security of a stitched spine.
  • Security – compared to perfect binding, with the risk of loose pages due to glue cracking on the spine, a stitched spine gives long lasting security.
  • Booklets can be opened flat for ease of reading, without damaging the spine.
  • Booklets are flat, and so they can be easily handled and stacked in piles without slipping.
  • The overall bulk is reduced by about one third – this reduced volume offers savings in packing and posting/shipping costs, and in storage space requirements.
  • The square spine makes it possible to print on the spine, as on a perfect bound book.
  • The professional appearance gives added value of the finished booklet.

Note: SquareBack™ book technology, which was developed and patented by Watkiss, is now the preferred choice of printers and print buyers all over the world. It is available on virtually all booklet makers on the market – either manufactured by or under licence to Watkiss.

Read more about SquareBack book solutions.

Are you making the most of your perfect binder?

Chris Page, Business Development Manager, Watkiss Automation Ltd

Whenever you invest in a new piece of kit, you want to be sure that you can use it fully and get the best possible return on your investment.  Having adaptable machinery that can fulfil different functions can be a big bonus.

We are all familiar with using perfect binders to produce magazines, brochures and other soft cover books – but what about other applications? Assuming your binder has adjustable notching and milling, then making pads is another possibility.

More exciting, and with more profit potential, is the ability to produce hard-cover books on the same machine.


You can see this in action on the Mamo Lega 420 perfect binder on YouTube.  Simply by reversing the book clamps, you can change over between soft-cover and hard-cover binding in less than 30 seconds.

That opens up opportunities to produce hard-cover photo books, year books, theses etc. – which, in turn, lets you offer more to your existing customers, target new customers, or reduce the amount of work that you send outside your business.

You can read more about the Lega 420 or contact us for more information.

Stitching or Stapling – what’s the difference and which should I choose?

Paul Attew, Sales Director, Watkiss Automation Ltd

This has to be one of the most common questions I get asked by potential customers and, like many things, the answer isn’t necessarily straightforward.

A stapling machine binds the spine of a book using a pre-cut wire staple; whereas a stitching machine makes the stitch using wire that is cut from a reel. A key difference is that staples are a set size, but stitches can vary in length.

So stapling and stitching are similar processes which do a similar job – but which is best?

Of course ‘best’ is not the same for everyone. Ultimately it depends on your work profile, your budget and your customer’s expectations.

A crucial factor is volume – how many books are you likely to produce?  There is no doubt that stitching is the optimum production method for those with a high volume of work due to the cost of the materials involved. The consumable cost of staples is around ten times that of stitching wire and over the lifetime of the machine, that’s going to add up.

However for many, the starting point may be the initial purchase cost of the machine. If your budget is the primary consideration, then stapling machines require a lower investment than stitchers and they require less maintenance, but they have a shorter lifespan.

Perfect stitching
Perfect stitching: stitch wire length can be adjusted to suit the book thickness

Another major consideration is book thickness. For thick books, you really do need to use a stitcher than can adjust the length of the stitch to suit the book thickness.

The problem with stapling thick books is the fixed size of the staple. The paper is held by the bending of the staple leg, and the thicker the book, the smaller the proportion of the leg that is bent, and the less secure the sheets become. It’s not just that your book may fall apart – which is bad enough – you may end up with badly formed and protruding staples with the potential to scratch. A stitch can be adjusted to suit the book thickness, and on some machines this is even completely automatic.

There’s also a quality threshold set by customer expectation. The bar is set higher for promotional print, but there are plenty of situations where ‘cheap and cheerful’ is adequate.

So the relatively low purchase cost of a stapler may seem attractive – and there are plenty of happy staplers up and down the country whose work suits – but it could be a false economy if your volumes are high or your books are thick.

Read more about Watkiss booklet makers

6 weeks after the referendum – a UK manufacturer’s perspective of Brexit

Paul Attew, Sales Director, Watkiss Automation Ltd

It has been said that in a Brexit-era we will need to rely more on our own resources; and that UK manufacturers are better placed to support the industry than those who supply imported products.

Paul Attew - Sales Director - Watkiss Automation
Paul Attew, Sales Director

It’s an interesting viewpoint, but not necessarily one that Watkiss subscribes to; as Paul Attew explains:

“ People often express surprise when they hear that we manufacture in the UK – there is a general perception that little is made in this country anymore, which of course isn’t the case. All Watkiss booklet makers and sheet feeders are designed, manufactured and assembled in our factories in Bedfordshire.

We are very proud to be a British manufacturer – and some of customers are very keen to ‘Buy British’; but we also believe that is the best way to support our national interest is to purchase the products and technology that best suit our business needs and that enable us to run successful enterprises. By all means Buy British – but only when it is the right solution for your business – that’s the best way to support our industry, communities and to provide employment.

Great Britain has a long history of innovation – the telescope, steam engine, tin can, chocolate bars, lawnmowers and of course the World Wide Web – to name just a few. There are countless examples in the printing industry too. And none of that will change – we may be in a time of uncertainty about the economy, exchange rates, trading tariffs – but we have long been a trading nation – and we will continue to trade.

At Watkiss we export around 80% of our production and we continue to be upbeat and optimistic about the future, especially following the launch of our new PowerSquare™ 160 booklet maker at Drupa. “

Read more about Watkiss.

Choosing the right glue for your perfect binder

We always recommend to customers that they should use our DCATACA glue in their perfect binders.  Rivaling PUR glue in performance, it is substantially cheaper and it is also much easier to use.

For many years PUR has been the glue of choice, in preference to EVA, for all digital applications because of its superior adhesion to digitally printed papers, especially those that have a significant presence of fuser oil.  However, this comes with a number of  disadvantages including higher material cost, the wastage of unused glue which cannot be re-used; and the requirement to let the glue cure prior to any further processing of the books.

So DCATACA glue, which combines much of the strength and adhesion of PUR with the ease of use of EVA, is an excellent solution.

Both independent testing and the results of field tests with customers verifies that the performance of DCATACA glue is considerably better than EVA glue.  It can be used in standard hot-melt equipment at a relatively low temperature and has numerous benefits.  It is very low odour and its thermal stability means that it can be heated and cooled multiple times without losing its adhesive properties.

With a lower price and a lower application rate, the DCATACA glue is comparable to EVA from a cost perspective.  Processing times and maintenance costs are also considerably less than PUR.

All in all, it’s a win-win situation.  Customers can enjoy the benefits of both PUR and EVA and since cost and quality are no longer a contradiction, their customers are happy too.

You can read more about Lega 420 perfect binder or contact us for more information.