Delivering quality finishing on time for over 30 years.


Where Craft meets Science

Traditional Bookbinding is a centuries old craft. Using tread sewing and cold melt animal based glues the books held tight and the glue adhered. Not much could go wrong if you followed the procedures in the craft of bookbinding.

Then the hot melt Bookbinding machines were introduced. More recently using hot melt glue with a base of Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (also known as EVA). This was the best method to bind books and the glue never failed. I have hot melt glue books 25 years old and they are still intact.

Being a Trade Bookbinder since 1978, we have experienced many unusual effects when processing paper. The paper stock, the inks, the coatings and the environment all play a part in effecting the processing of paper for bookbinding. A more recent problem has been in respect to Perfect and Burst bound books. Some books checked and OK’d at the production stage began falling apart after little use or handling.

The cause of this problem has in most cases has bean Ink Solvent Migration. The problem is not that new, but has been more prevalent in recent times.

Hot melt glues (EVA) have not changed much over the years; however, the ink and paper compositions have changed. The solvents are migrating through the paper and breaking down the glue. An American Bookbinding Seminar revealed that half the printing solvents used have not dried after two months.

There is also a problem with coated papers that have more coats and less paper fibre for the glue to adhere. This problem will continue and increase, if there is an increase in the fillers that are used in making paper. More fillers less fibre.

The best way to avoid these problems is by choosing the best binding method for your book. This will be decided by its use (reading, show, reference), timeliness (monthly, annual) and the type of book trying to be produced.

The immediate solution is to have the book bound using PUR (polyurethane resin) hot melt glue. PUR glue produces books that lie flatter when opened, requires less spine preparation, glue is clear in colour and a smaller amount of glue is required.

  • Books that are better bound with PUR would include the following:
  • Books that experience continuous use
  • Books used in extreme environments – excessive hot or moist
  • Books where pages have ink, varnish or other coating bleeding into the spine
  • Books bound on heavy stocks ie > 150 gsm or coated stocks > 80 gsm
  • Books with a mixture of stocks (coated, thick stock, thick cover stock)

EVA hot melt glues should still be used on suitable jobs. A book with a short shelf life, 80gsm offset or bond and with no ink or coating bleeding into the spine, lends itself to EVA hot melt glue as it will suitably hold the paper and does not warrant the extra expense of PUR.

Science has hindered and helped the Craft of Bookbinding. The changes in solvents, inks, coatings and papers have hindered the craft and the advent of PUR has assisted the craft. Due to the increasing changes in supplies and inputs, the use of PUR glue is only going to increase.