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The 4 Binding Methods for Magazines and Books

Multi-Reliure introduces you to the four recognized methods for binding a volume using thermal binding. In this article, you will learn to differentiate them and recognize their particularities. This way, you’ll better understand thermal binding production, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each method.

1. The classic method (Perfect binding)
Documents (volumes or magazines) are produced, assembled, and glued using a hot melt EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) adhesive. The preparation of the spine involves sawing 1/8 inch at the spine. This type of thermal binding is the most common in the industry.

The perforations in the middle are used only as an aid in folding.

The perforations in the middle are used only as an aid in folding.

The 0.125″ section that will be ground off during binding.

The 0.125″ section that will be ground off during binding.

Advantages:
− Offers a cost-effective production
− Allows for rapid production
− Ideal for magazines or fast-consumption type documents
− Presents a beautiful finished product for the cost (good value for money)

Disadvantages:
− More fragile at the spine and may be used for the most common productions, not requiring long-term consultations
− Limited lifespan
− Sensitive to thermal changes; the adhesive can reactivate or break in very cold or very hot temperatures

2. The notch binding method
Documents (volumes or magazines) are produced, assembled, and glued using a hot melt EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) adhesive without trimming at the spine. It involves a mechanical perforation of the assembled booklet at the back. This type of thermal binding is the industry’s second most common method.

Notched signature. There is no grind-off before binding.

Notched signature. There is no grind-off before binding.

It is more than a simple perforation; excess paper is removed to allow the glue to flow through.

It is more than a simple perforation; excess paper is removed to allow the glue to flow through.

Advantages:
− Very strong as a product
− Provides a better result than other methods when images span two pages (spreads) since there’s no need to compensate for sawing the booklet
− Requires less space on a press sheet, thus allowing the possibility to modify the paper format to optimize production
− Allows cost savings in printing if the paper is optimized. The production cost is the same as for the classic method

Disadvantages:
− Requires great precision during folding, as any variation will make the perforations visible
− Limited lifespan
− Sensitive to thermal changes; the adhesive can reactivate or break in very cold or very hot temperatures

3. The PUR adhesive (polyurethane glue) method
This thermal binding method has become very popular since 2005 and is widely used. This type of adhesive is really flexible and very strong. The binding is produced using the classic method but with this very powerful glue. PUR adhesive has revolutionized the binding and printing industry.

Advantages:
− Much more flexible and stronger than hot EVA glue
− Offers the same production speed as a classic thermal binding
− Uses a stable adhesive that cannot reactivate in heat or break in cold
− Ideal for glossy paper works bound with pages against the grain

Disadvantages:
− The cost is on average 5 to 10% higher than the classic method (regarding the binding cost, not the overall product cost)
−Requires a longer drying time
−Fragile during the first 24 hours after production in urgent cases (and God knows we often produce in a hurry!)

4. The Smyth Sewn method
This production method allows for the creation of high-quality works and is used for publications such as dictionaries, Bibles, product catalogs, and high-quality books. This bound product is significantly superior in all aspects. The documents are assembled without trimming at the spine. They are sewn mechanically using a thread, ensuring unparalleled lifespan and strength.

Bookblock sewn with nylon thread.

Book block sewn with nylon thread.

The thread is visible in the middle of the signature, and may also show the rise of the glue.

The thread is visible in the middle of the signature, and may also show the rise of the glue.

Advantages:
− Impossible to see pages detach from the volume
− Increased flexibility
− Stronger in all respects

Disadvantages:
− Requires a longer production time, as collating, assembling, and sewing are additional steps before thermal binding
− The cost for binding is about 50% higher than the classic method
− Sewing thread visible at the center of the booklets

Note: The cost of binding in the complete production of a document (volume, magazine, etc.) represents an average of 5% of the total cost of the retail price if ALL costs (design, printing, binding, transport, etc.) are included. Binding is an often overlooked element that, however, adds value and offers a superior product when well-chosen. Contact us for more information on the many advantages of our production methods. One of our specialists will help you make the best decision based on your real needs and budget.