To compensate for lost sales in perfect binding and saddle stitching, Richard Wenig Buchbinderei GmbH in the German capital Berlin recently made a new entry into thread sewing. In addition to a Ventura MC 200 book sewing machine, the family-owned business also invested in the VFN 700 fold down press launched by Muller Martini a few weeks ago.
It is true that the bookbindery founded by Erich Wenig shortly after the Second World War already had a thread sewing machine two decades ago. However, because the family business then concentrated fully on softcover production and saddle stitching and now uses two Muller Martini systems in these two segments, a KM 610 (installed in 2014) and a Primera (2016), the thread sewing machine was decommissioned. Last November, however, the "supreme discipline" in finishing celebrated a comeback at the Berlin company with the commissioning of a Ventura MC 200.
According to Richard Wenig, the reason for this was declining sales in the two business areas of softcover and saddle stitching. "These began before corona, but were accentuated by the pandemic," says Managing Partner Richard Wenig and great-grandson of the company's founder. "That's why we decided to (re)enter thread sewing last year. On the one hand, to compensate for the shortfalls with a new portfolio. On the other hand, to also be able to offer thread-sewn products to our many loyal regular customers." Admittedly, the traditional company, which also offers handbook processing as a niche managed by Richard Wenig's mother Grit Wenig, was in the red last year because of Corona. "Nevertheless – or precisely because of this – we dared," says the trained bookbinder, "to invest in a new machine."
The VFN 700 fold down press (in the background), which is connected inline to the Ventura MC 200 book sewing machine, reduces the spine pitch.
Valuable tips from the thread sewing guru
The fact that the choice fell on Muller Martini with the Ventura MC 200 is not only due to the Berlin bookbindery's good experience with the KM 610 and the Primera. "I was particularly convinced by the demo of the machine at the Muller Martini plant," emphasizes Richard Wenig – and adds two further weighty arguments for his decision to buy. "Firstly, I was inspired by Mike Noorlander from Muller Martini – a true book sewing guru and the best machine expert I have come across in my professional career. With his valuable tips to our machine operators, he played a significant role in ensuring that we were able to start up the Ventura MC 200 without any problems and with 100 percent performance in the shortest possible time."
Secondly, the new Ventura MC 200 at Wenig Bookbindery has an extra feature with the TWE¦ƎN® option that adds significant value. It enables smaller folded sheets – so-called tween sheets – to be stitched into a book block. These can differ in both length and width and are stitched in exactly at any desired position thanks to motion control technology. "We haven't produced many tweens yet," says Richard Wenig, "but I'm convinced that this attractive product variant will arouse our customers' interest."
Reducing spine pitch with the VFN 700
A third plus point is the VFN 700 fold down press, which is connected inline with Ventura MC 200 and was launched by Muller Martini a few weeks ago. It, too, immediately caught Richard Wenig's eye during the demo. "It was still in the development phase at the time and was not running when I visited, but I was immediately impressed." The VFN reduces spine pitch – also known as mushrooming – during thread sewing and ensures that the book block goes cleanly into the perfect binder. "It allows us to avoid another work step with a manual or semi-automatic press, keep the logistics factor as small as possible and produce more economically," emphasizes Richard Wenig.
For his company, which he has managed since 2008 in the fourth generation and employs just over 30 people in two shifts, this is all the more crucial because customers are demanding ever faster response times. "Ordered tomorrow, delivered yesterday," is today's motto of bookbinderies, exaggeratedly put. "This demands maximum flexibility from us," says the company boss.
From 0 to 30 percent
The new production segment of Buchbinderei Wenig quickly found favor with print shops, mainly from the two German states of Berlin and Brandenburg. Two months after commissioning the Ventura MC 200, thread sewing already accounted for 30 percent of the sales volume. A wide range of formats is produced, with an equally wide range from 4 to 36 signatures and runs between (digitally printed) 100 and 7500 copies.
"The Ventura keeps us afloat," says Richard Wenig with satisfaction. "We don't know where the journey is going – but the Ventura makes the journey easier and more realistic."