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Subject: Fastback bindings

Fastback bindings

From: Ella Harsin <cn.eah>
Date: Tuesday, June 7, 1994
Richard Saunders <alirs [at] msu__oscs__montana__edu> writes

>My library is thinking of using an in-house binding system for theses
>and dissertations trade-named fastBack, from Binding Solutions of
>Seattle.  It is essentially a hot-melt perfect bind

I am not familiar with the Fastback system or its adhesive, but I would
like to tell you of our experiences with a hot melt glue. When I was
Head of Binding and Finishing (1974-1990), our contract bindery offered
a style of binding using hot melt glue, and no sewing.  During the years
in which we received bindings in that style, we experienced three types
of problems.  These and other problems the vendor found led the Bindery
to the decision to discontinue the use of any type of hot-melts glues
for any of their work.

1.  During very cold weather (below zero) the adhesive became
embrittled.  Several bindings snapped.  These did not occur in the
stacks; they occurred during winter shipping from the bindery, which is
out of state in a cold belt.  Stanford does not experience zero degree
temps.  I know Montana is darned cold at times. If you should experience
a power shortage which brought your library to zero degrees, you might
have a problem. One of the problems is with moving the volumes when they
are cold.  The hot melt is more apt to snap during handling at cold
temps.  (Hence,the snapping which occurred during shipping.)  Check with
the manufacturers guarantees regarding temp etc.  Still, over time, this
brittleness could possibly occur due to age as well as cold.

2. When volumes flexed open for photocopying or extended reading etc.,
pages would sometimes pop loose from the glue.  This was especially true
of coated papers, which are seldom successfully bound with adhesive
only.  Readers could only too easily remove illustrations or pages from
text.  Selecting that binding style then required our selecting only
pulpy paper and no mixed papers.

3. The other problem which occurred from time to time was a general
failure of the adhesive to hold even the pulpy papers.  Pages popped out
in clumps.  This was a puzzle until the plant manager observed an
employee replenishing his heated glue pot with glue chips.  The chips
are stored in chunk form, and look quite similar to a taffy candy called
Bit-o-Honey; soft, flexible.  The directions specified that the entire
mixture of glue was to reach a certain temperature before the machine
was to be used further.  This employee tried to hurry the process by
restarting  when the chips were not thoroughly melted.  Thus, the glue
was  not uniformly hot to do the job properly.  Lukewarm melt does not

Perhaps not all hot melts have this type of instability, but I would
advise you to consult further before investing a large portion of your
collection in this style of binding.  By the way, in my opinion the so
called "perfect binding" adhesive binding is a misnomer if I ever heard
one. Adhesive bindings have been far from perfect!  As I see it, no one
has improved upon the beautiful old style of folded leaves, sewn through
the fold in signatures.  If done correctly, now *that's* perfect.
Unfortunately, the printers seldom retain these beautiful signatures
anymore.  And, for library binding, sometimes adhesives alone are the
only solution.  I guess we're all waiting for that miracle machine, the
truly perfect adhesive binder.

P.S. Since I have not been in the binding field since 1990, it is
possible that hot melts have improved and are now quite acceptable.

Ella Harsin

                   Conservation DistList Instance 8:1
                   Distributed: Monday, June 13, 1994
                        Message Id: cdl-8-1-006
Received on Tuesday, 7 June, 1994

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