Cutting component count helps cut books
The world of print publishing is changing. New inventions, such as tablet computers, are providing immediate access to a full library of books without taking up any physical real estate on bookstore shelves. So how does this affect good old-fashioned print books? On Demand Books has recently come up with a solution they call the Espresso Book Machine®. A collaborative design effort, first conceptualized by Jeff Marsh and On Demand Chairman Jason Epstein, the Espresso Machine was further refined for manufacturability by DT Engineering to reduce the overall assembly count, improve performance and reduce the overall total cost.
The challange of developing a good Idea
The first working protoype was presented to DT Engineering, a specialty engineering firm that focuses on machine design, build, and replication (build to print) of custom machinery. Their task was to bring in a more refined design that increased manufacturability, decreased machine complexity, and operated reliably. One issue with the original design was the numerous linear motion components that made up the system. Rails, mounting parts and fasteners, and pillow blocks combined to take up a considerable amount of space resulting in a complex assembly. They used a modular approach for the internal sub-assemblies and sought out maintenance-free components for longer-lasting performance.
The PBC Linear solution
DT Engineering began by working closely with PBC Linear to simplify the linear motion system, and finally decided on their Uni-Guide linear slide for the three critical tasks of the book printer. The simple, two-piece rail and carriage assembly of Uni-Guide provided a more streamlined design without bulky mounting pieces or painstaking assembly work. In addition, the Simplicity® plain bearings glide smoothly and reliably without the need for additional lubrication or preventative maintenance. The rails have dual shafts that are precision machined along the edge to ensure perfect alignment and parallelism. All of these Uni-Guide advantages were essential to improving the performance of the Espresso machine’s smooth cutting of the book pages, gluing of the pages to the cover and spine, and collating the pages for binding. All in all, the Uni-guide provided long-lasting transfer and adjustment for some of the Espresso’s most important operating tasks.
Results / ROI
By implementing Uni-Guide technology from PBC Linear, DT Engineering was able to reduce each linear motion assembly from roughly 10 pieces down to 2, creating a simpler, cost-effective printing machine. Today, the on-demand Espresso Book Machine is now available in college libraries and bookstores worldwide. It can automatically print, bind and trim a perfect bound, bookstore quality paperback at the point of sale, eliminating the need for overstocked inventory. The Espresso also boasts the added value of offering rare, hard to find titles. Books are first selected using EspressNet® software developed by On Demand, and then printed within 2-3 minutes. The final book is complete with front/back covers and is ready for immediate sale.