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What does it do?
Fastbind’s Casematic a46a is the latest version of the Finnish finishing equipment manufacturer’s semi-automatic hardcover casemaking machine. It is designed to simplify the process of making hard covers over greyboard.

When was it launched and what market is it aimed at?
Launched last summer, the a46a got its first showing at last year’s Print Show, with the first orders about to be delivered.
“The main markets are reprographics departments and commercial printers but they go into a wide range of users from self publishers up to corporations,” says Lewis Price, managing director of UK agent Ashgate Automation. “The market is anyone who wants on demand book binding from one up to a couple of hundred copies.”

How does it work?
A series of guides and tools ensure that each stage of the process is accurate and consistent, with the operator carrying out the actions and moving the case between processes.
Users start by taking the case cover and registering it on the table, then a guide is used to apply the greyboards for the covers and spines. A guillotine on the side is used to cut the corners of the cover and then the cover is turned over using a guide on the front of the machine.
Fastbind sells self-adhesive cover papers suitable for printing with toner or inkjet but it is also possible to use other bindings including paper, cloth and leather by using a separate gluer to apply adhesive.
 
Specifications:

Case size: From CD cover up to 1,040x490mm

Speed: 120 cases per hour

Contact: www.ashgate.co.uk

How does it differ from previous products?
The a46a comes with stand, two movable side tables and a shelf, whereas previous units were tabletop devices. It features an adjustable light table to aid positioning the cover, the clamp that holds the cover automatically engages and disengages and there is a vacuum to hold materials in place and an airbed to ease moving jobs around. Lastly, edge turning now uses a mechanical clamp, and its operation is indicated by LED illumination.

How fast is it?
Quoted speed is 120 books per hour, which is a third faster than other Casematic machines. Price says that the new features make it more like 50% faster in the real world.

What is the USP of the product?
“Its USP is the ability to handle everything, from one-offs to medium-length runs, and to realistically only need to print one copy rather than three to get one book out,” he says.
“For some customers the deciding factor in an investment is not the level of automation it’s the physical size.”

How easy is it to use?
“You should be able to make a book first time. Spine width is set by the user putting the spine into a caliper. Aside from that everything else is determined by the size of the book itself.
“The response we’ve had from all the demos is that this is an operator’s machine.”

What training and support is on offer?
“Operator training is key to getting the most out of the machine and we are happy to go back and provide further training if needed. It would be crazy to install a machine and not show the users how to operate it.”

Alternatives:

ODM Modular Casemaking System
US firm On Demand Machinery’s casemaker has four modules: Spreader, a gluer, Slider for board positioning, the Stomper edge-turner and Squeezer rotary press.
Max case size 460x760mm (XXL option: 610x1,200mm); Speed 80-140 cases per hour

Schmedt PräDeka
German bookbinding specialist Schmedt’s range includes the PräDeka, a casemaking line comprising a gluing unit, casemaker and turning-in and pressing-down unit. The casemaker is also available as a standalone unit.
Case size 440x660mm (XL option 520x1100mm); Speed 60-100 cases per hour

Sumbel GFET and GFAT
A more modular approach is offered by Sumbel, with the GFET edge-turner and GFAT alignment table designed to complement the firm’s range of gluing machines.