Since its inception in 1999, Kugler-Womako (Nürtingen, Germany) has established an innovative reputation as a binding machine specialist for the stationery and bookbinding industries.  Maintaining this position requires staying ahead of industry trends such as ecology and safety.  Such was the case in developing an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional metal and plastic spiral binding; which is often associated with a certain risk of injury and is not eco-friendly.  The result is a semi-revolutionary paper-based binding system called the EcoBinder − which is 100% recyclable.

Beyond inventing a new, innovative ring binding system made of paper, Kugler-Womako was also the first in its sector to switch over to the accompanying binding production process from a traditional linear transfer unit to a rotary indexing ring.  According to Anton Jost, Project Manager at Kugler-Womako,  “Since our paper binding system is fundamentally new, we also wanted to rethink the processes employed.  All previous binding machines worked with a linear system, but we wondered whether we could improve on this with a different approach.”

To test out this method, the company began an in depth collaboration with industry leading specialist for rotary tables and automation, WEISS (Buchen, Germany), and its subsidiary WEISS North America, Inc. (Willoughby, OH).  After numerous considerations, design sketches, and experimental prototypes, the rotary indexing table definitively proved to be an optimal solution because it is more compact than a linear transfer unit, is made up of fewer parts, and is therefore more affordable.

Ultimately, the concept for the first EcoBinder binding machine was a semi-automatic unit with four processing stations − based on a highly dynamic, fixed-position WEISS TR750 rotary indexing ring with 90 degree divisions.

Given their successful collaboration in establishing a rotary indexing table solution, the company further enlisted WEISS to manufacture and deliver the complete table including: subframe, a fixed and rotating aluminium ring with milled recesses and drilled mounting holes, as well as connection elements for the mountings of the processing stations.  This allowed the engineers at Kugler-Womako to focus all of their attention on designing their new binding process.

The goal of the production processing was to achieve thick wound paper strips that are rolled up and held in place using hot glue that fits into slots on the spines of books − instead of wire or plastic.  This produces a ring binding system that is far more than just recyclable and safe, but also achieves a USP not to be underestimated − saving customers an impressive 50% in material costs for binding.

WEISS_K_W_06_rgbIn the first station of the processing sequence the block is inserted by hand. Unlike linear production, where each processing stage requires intervention, the block always remains fixed in the rotary indexing table and is transported gently onwards to the next step.  The combination of the high part and repeat accuracy of the WEISS TR series tables leads to outstanding manufacturing precision. Notably, secure locking without further indexing or fixing steps, a feature typical of rotary tables, also allows for high speeds of up to 30 cycles per minute.

In the subsequent processing station, the printed strips of paper are rolled up and stuck together at the same time using hot glue.  A third station attaches the protruding straps to the rear cover of the block to ensure that the images or text printed on the paper rings always remain in the desired position.  The fourth station is ultimately used to remove the finished blocks.  The close proximity of infeed and output is another advantage over a linear arrangement − particularly when filling by hand.

Even with up to 12 stations, this machine wouldn’t prove to be a problem for the WEISS TR series which offers ring diameters of up to 2,200 mm – providing more than enough scope for coupling with processing stations.

Jost noted the mechanical integration capabilities of the rotary indexing rings from WEISS, “We were able to connect the frequency inverter control on the TR750 to our higher level machine control system with no issues.  In fact, the binding machine was already up and running just a few hours after installation.” 

When compared to a linear design, the WEISS TR750 rotary indexing table broke new ground for Kugler-Womako by saving space and moving the infeed and output areas of the blocks closer together − offering a particular advantage for manual operations.  Essentially, because a rotary indexing table is made up of significantly fewer parts than a transfer line, it was also possible to lower the cost for the binding machine while increasing production quality.

According to Jost, “As a custom machine builder geared toward meeting the very specific wishes of its customers, no two machines are alike for us. This configuration is obviously just one of many options, and a fully automatic binding machine is already in the planning stages.”

Ultimately, the unique EcoBinder is an environmentally friendly, safe, and affordable solution to conventional wire or plastic ring binding.   What makes the system even more attractive is the fact that the paper rings can be individually printed for advertising or labelling purposes, and the binding cannot be opened − making it the ideal solution for permanent records.

About Weiss:
An integral part of the Weiss global network, Weiss North America (ISO-9001 Certified) leverages over 45 years of reliable world-wide expertise to comprise an integrative, customer-specific approach to its vast array of electromechanical products.  Our 100% vertical range of manufacturing ranges from rotary indexing tables, handling systems, and linear assembly systems−providing flexible technology for turnkey solutions that incorporate electronics, mechanical systems, software, and comprehensive engineering support. This enables us to provide pre-installed, intelligent, and highly convenient solutions for the entire field of kinematics.

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