BK Bookbinders keeps pace with Altron and Xerox

Family-owned bookbinding and digital printing company BK Bookbinders has installed a new Xerox Versant 280 Press as part of its commitment to growing the business and creating new market opportunities by investing in new technology.

The Durban-based company, hit hard by the Covid pandemic and even harder by the civil unrest in KwaZulu-Natal last year, has been one of few companies able to survive and thrive through difficult economic times.

Director Keith Kewley suggests that part of the reason for this is the company’s willingness to diversify its products where needed, and to keep ahead of the technology curve where it makes business sense to do so.

‘My business is bookbinding and business cards and little else, so there’s not much scope to go on a tangent product-wise to grow the company,’ says Kewley. ‘Instead, what we’ve done is stick to our guns by sticking with a tried-and-tested printing platform – Xerox – and improving on what we have from time to time as the business requires.’

One of the main motivations for the new Xerox Versant 280 Press was its support for long-sheet printing on heavier grammage stock, which enables Keith and his team to deliver more products better and faster than before.

‘With longer sheets and heavier stocks, we can produce full-bleed A4 landscape photobooks for our clients, and do so at the highest-possible print quality, rivalling litho,’ he says. ‘This is a big deal because the limitation coming from our previous Xerox C70 machines, great as they are and continue to be, means we couldn’t offer the new products we are now, or the turnaround speed we’re now able to give our clients.’

BK Bookbinders has created a robust online ordering system, with single-day and two-day turnaround to most urban centres in South Africa, and only a day or two longer for overseas orders.

‘Most of our bookbinding clients are other printers that come to us for a turnkey service because they don’t have the tools or know how to produce their own bound books start to finish,’ says Kewley.

‘With the Xerox machines we have today, we can offer end-to-end book production, from short-run softcover books to full-colour full-size printing and complex hardcover binding. They supply us with digital files, we do the rest, and since the Versant 280 uses the same RIP and workflow software as our previous machines, there was almost no retraining cost or downtime in the transition.’

The Xerox Versant 280 combines Xerox’s Versant speed and quality with the ability to print on supported stocks up to 400gsm. Versatile media support includes envelopes and stock as small as 98 x 146mm and as long as 330 x 660mm. Labels, tabs and special substrates like synthetics, polyesters, window clings, transfer paper and magnetic stocks are also supported.

In addition, Xerox Versant 280 Press features toner consistency, coverage, and alignment controls using Xerox’s Simple Image Quality Adjustment (SIQA) automation, closed-loop process controls for colour consistency, Xerox EA Toner with 2400 x 2400dpi Ultra HD (UHD) resolution and 10-bit RIP rendering, even on metallics and specialty toners and inline finishing options from simple folds and staples to full bleed, square edge face-trimmed booklets.

Mervin Achary, Key Account Manager at Altron Document Solutions, says as a long-time client, Keith has a specific sample print that he uses to test new equipment and the Versant 280 passed “with flying colours”.

‘From the very first Xerox digital printer we sold BK Bookbinders more than a decade ago – the DocuMate 520 – to the Xerox Versant 280 Press today, we’ve consistently delivered huge improvements on the quality of prints,’ he says.

‘Along with the new format support in the Xerox Versant 280 Press, keeping up to date with the latest equipment and the newer technology it brings keeps Keith and his team ahead of competitors, and keeps his business current.’