Generating added value with printed book edges

In today's print market, it is essential to offer customers special types of finishing. Individualization and personalization are more important than ever. One special form of book finishing has recently been gaining in importance and is in demand by many customers: printing on the edges of books.

The finishing of the book cut was historically applied to very high quality books - so in the past every valuable and special book wore an edge of gold, chalk, graphite or paint. The gilt edge was the highest quality method here and was done with gold leaf. Sometimes the gilt edges were additionally combined with elaborate cut painting, which remains hidden when the book is closed. Nowadays, these methods are used only occasionally due to their costliness. Modern digital printing technology, however, makes it possible to bring the finishing methods into the twenty-first century.

Early suppliers of books with printed edges include companies from the United States and the United Kingdom such as Illumicrate or Fairy Loot, which specialize in the fantasy and young adult fiction (YA) genres. These vendors do not sell their books in traditional bookstores, but in special book box subscriptions for lovers of the genres. Due to the special finishing, the books can be advertised as exclusive editions to the end customer. In this way, significantly higher prices can be achieved than would be the case with classic books. But adaptation has long since ceased to be limited to specialties. In the meantime, refined book edges can also be found occasionally in bookstores, and more and more customers are fascinated by them.

One option for book edge finishing is offered by our Book Edge Printing Machine PräziEdge, which we will be presenting at the Print & Digital Convention 2022 in Düsseldorf. With the machine, there are no limits to creativity and filigree and subtle patterns, motifs in high detail, a simple color cut or even graphics and photos with a captivating 3D effect can be printed on the edges of books. This also works with rounded corners, blocks, business cards and other absorbent materials such as paper bags, boxes or wood.

Book edge is printed on printing machine PräziEdge.
PräziEdge printing machine with conveyor belt for books.

The CMYK printing system is based on Memjet technology with water-based ink (individual tanks of two liters each) and is suitable both for production runs of one and for longer runs. The PräziEdge is therefore an attractive solution above all for digital printers, books-on-demand manufacturers, publishers and advertising material producers. The print resolution is 1600 x 800 dpi or 1600 x 1600 dpi. Technically, up to 3,000 prints per hour can be produced with 1600 x 800 dpi print resolution. This corresponds to 1,000 books per hour in three-sided book cut single printing (single mode), with a generous print width of up to 220 mm and a maximum book format of 350 x 350 mm.

Print motifs are prepared separately and then simply transferred to the machine, e.g. via WLAN. Once everything is set up, the books are guided under the fixed print head with the help of conveyor belts. A precise sensor automatically detects the start of the book so that printing starts directly at the edge. For borderless color or motif cuts, overlapping printing is required so that no white flashes occur. Special scrapers are used for this, which collect the overprinting ink. An integrated suction system automatically removes impurities that could be caused by dust before printing.

We will be presenting the versatile machine live at the Print & Digital Convention 2022 in Düsseldorf. Alternatively, it can also be viewed live via Zoom meeting with our demo center. For this, an appointment can be booked on our website to see how the machine works quickly and without the need to travel. If prospective customers are unsure whether the machine will fit their own products or whether there is a market for it among their own customers, we also produces samples and test orders with real materials.

At the Print & Digital Convention, we will be presenting a photo book with printed edges as a highlight project together with Imaging Solutions AG (ISAG). Realized for a print show in the U.S., the photo book by Marathon Press and Imaging Solutions AG (ISAG) showcases the works of American photographer Tim Tadder. Thanks to the LayFlat binding on the ISAG fastBook Professional, the photos are impressively displayed across the binding and are thus shown off to their best advantage. As an additional highlight for the Print & Digital Convention, the book edges were finished with the PräziEdge so that the cover image runs over the edge of the book. Here, our Managing Director Constantin Schmedt briefly introduces the highlight project: