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Balfour - Universe and Inline for a fully integrated digital print finishing line

Case study
From the left Mr. Terry Allen (Bindery manager), Mrs. Beverly Edwards (Sewing lead) and Mr. Gary Thompson (V.P. of Operations).
22 Feb 2021

Leading the industry in yearbook production with a completely digital workflow

Balfour and Meccanotecnica experience the third round of investment with new digital print finishing solutions for the production of yearbooks

Balfour, formerly known as Taylor Publishing Company, was founded in 1939 by Herbert, Edgar, and Bill Taylor. Their vision to simplify the book creation process through innovation and technology has allowed the company to not just keep pace with the industry but set it.

While the company entered the industry during the era of photoengraving and copper plates, today Balfour’s 325,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art production facility is equipped with the latest printing and bookbinding technology. Most importantly, Balfour continues to employ the skilled and experienced personnel necessary to produce high-quality, hard- and soft-bound books efficiently.

Balfour is one of only a few US printing/binding operations with significant cover making capabilities. They offer numerous casebound (hardcover) production options, including cloth-based or printed. With the use of foils, inks, embossing, die-cutting, and laminating, the company offers thousands of options for book cover customization. In addition to case-bound cover capabilities, Balfour produces printed covers for softcover books that can be bound in a variety of ways including saddle stitch, perfect binding, thread sewing (also known as Smyth-sewing) and more.

Balfour operates one of the largest Komori sheet-fed offset pressrooms in North America. They regularly produce print runs of 300 to 10,000 copies or more, but also have several digital printing machines dedicated for shorter print runs.

Balfour was the first company in the US to implement online publishing, produce all-color yearbooks, and move to a completely digital workflow.

Meccanotecnica has been supplying book finishing machines to Balfour since 1976, starting with the first automatic tippers in the late ’70s. It was followed by automatic book sewing machines in the ’80s. The second wave of investments came in 2004 with new automatic book sewers and their automatic loading systems plus stackers, to the first book sewing machine for digital printing in the US, the Kristec, and now with the latest generation of digital print finishing solutions with Universe™ and the integrated line for spine nipping and end-sheet tipping. Today we are experiencing the third wave of investments in digital and it has been nothing but a success.”, continues Mr. Gary Thompson.

What are yearbooks

Yearbooks, or annuals, are a type of book published annually by an educational institution to document, highlight and commemorate students as well as activities carried out during the school year. These are books that favor images and photographs which show students, activities, and events in which they were involved.

Challenge

Over the years, Balfour has progressively increased its digital printing capacity, consequently, we had also to step up our print finishing capability”.

Solution

We were already successfully using a Kristec and a Universe™ book sewer. The new generation of Universe™ together with the integrated spine nipping press and end-sheet tipper proved to be the solution able to meet our needs. The versatility of use, the reliability, and the levels of performance it can achieve (500 sheets/minute as a constant feed speed, Ed.) were decisive in the choice”. - Mr. Gary Thompson

Results

We have just installed our second Universe™ line, increasing our efficiency, and reducing cost”, says Mr. Gary Thompson. “We Smyth-sew all of our case-bound yearbooks for quality reasons. We believe it is the strongest form of production enabling the books to last for decades, holding up for milestone celebrations like 5, 10, 20-year reunions. When we pull a book off the shelf, it will still be in good shape due to thread sewing (also know as Smyth-sewing, Ed.) and hardcover production.”

Focus on the process

After sewing, the integrated spine-nipping press automatically presses the book blocks reducing the thickness of the spine build-up. This improves the quality and efficiency of downstream processes.

The end-sheet tipper is also integrated and connected in line with the nipping press, significantly enhancing the efficiency of the book block preparation for hardcover application. The module automatically glues the end-sheets to the first and last page of the book block by using cold glue.

Business benefits

  • Highly reliable binding (thread sewing)
  • Revenue increase (more productivity)
  • Cost savings (integration of processes)
  • Versatility, flexibility and quality
  • Ease-of-use (Universe machine)
  • Proven reliability

Book Automation, Inc.

Established in 1975, Book Automation Inc. is the first branch of the Meccanotecnica Group. From the New Milford office in Connecticut, the company directly follows and supports the US and Canadian market to guarantee maximum customer satisfaction

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