Westdale Press is moving into case making and hard cover binding with investment in Kolbus and Meccanotecnica equipment.
The Cardiff company is buying a Kolbus DA260 case maker, BF513 casing in line and Aster Pro sewing machine, all from Kolbus UK. The company is already producing case bound books for clients, printing on its long perfecting B1 presses and sending the finishing to trade houses.
This investment will enable the company to keep greater control over this work through in-house production while continuing to send some work out. It follows investment in in-house lamination and in foiling at the end of last year.
“We are doing quite a few casebound books,” says Westdale managing director Alan Padbury. “Some are for conventional publishers, but more for people using case bound books as up market marketing pieces or offering them as part of another manufacturing process.
“There is definitely more interest in using hard cover books for selling high end products including top of the range furniture and clothes.”
The push into this area will help distance the company from the commoditised sector of volume print he says. It had earlier closed its web offset printing department as part of the move away from price sensitive print. It has a developed skills in printing on uncoated stocks which others have not been able to match. Padbury explains: “We needed to look hard at finding a niche market for Westdale. Establishing ourselves as a colour printer who can offer in-house casebinding facilities gives us the opportunity to offer customers a finished product produced totally in house.
“Where the finished product is expensive, the cost of producing a case casbound book is a small price to pay to leverage the quality this type of printed product conveys. If you have these processes in house there’s a perception that there is quality going on and that is an attraction.”
Padbury has a background in book production having started his career several decades ago at Pitman Press in Bath. The company has already invested in foil blocking, UV varnishing and lamination. Adding case binding is a natural step and meets the need that some customers have for full production under one roof. There is no intention to abandon trade suppliers who have taken Westdale this far, but with shorter runs the cost and environmental footprint of shipping work long distances becomes unbalanced. It will continue to make sense to send longer run work out, he says, especially as the company acquires the necessary skills. “We know we are not going to be the best book binder in the world overnight is going to take a while.”
It already has the right printing equipment. "The grain direction from the long perfectors is in the right direction for A4 or similar formats and we have single-pass printing which means less risk of marking. The less manhandling the better the finished product,” he says. With the prefectors printing on both sides of the sheet there is no need to turn and print the reverse side.
He explains that the decision to invest has been mulled over for the last year, coming back to the forefront of his mind when Müller Martini announced plans to merge with Kolbus at the start of this year. That crystallised his thoughts and led to the order.
“Books are not going to die. Even going people like to pick up a book, feel it and leaf through the pages. The book industry will not die. This is not such a massive investment and gives us an angle that other printers do not have.”
Kolbus UK managing director Robert Flather has continued a relationship with Westdale Press as its managing director Alan Padbury turned to Kolbus when investing in case making and equipment for hard cover binding.