Manufactured by Bedfordshire-based Watkiss, which along with Morgana forms part of the Plockmatic Group since its acquisition in 2018, the Powersquare devices are already well-established bookletmakers. Now they have been combined with the VF Dual Bin Feeder, which was originally developed by Plockmatic.
The Powersquare devices are designed for use with both digital and offset printing with the 224-model able to produce 224pp books and carry out the stitching, folding, spine forming, and trimming in one machine. It has automatic settings for books size and pagination, with variable stitch-length for different book thicknesses and up to eight stitches along the spine for special applications.
The 160-model, meanwhile, is aimed at mid- to high-volume printers and can produce books from a wide range of substrates and sheet sizes including A4 landscape.
Before Watkiss was acquired by Plockmatic the offline 160 and 224 were supplied in combination with feeding technology from another manufacturer, explained Plockmatic Group's general manager for UK operations, Ray Hillhouse. The new configurations with the VF Dual Bin Feeder, he said, marks the first product integration project between Watkiss and Morgana since the acquisition.
"I’d expect to see the new configurations being taken up right across the spectrum. There are a lot of 224s being used inline with digital printers. The fact that you can make a 200+ booklet with the 224 is quite unique and so it is good for producing manuals and publications for example manufacturing firms need to produce some sometimes quite hefty product manuals so this is great for that. Having a bookletmaker is a much easier system to run in an inplant than perhaps a perfect binder.
"Then looking at the 160, it again goes across the board we have them in print houses, in inplants. Its USP is the fact it can produce landscape books, so many of the digital printers are now producing long sheets and it's really developed a marketplace for landscape booklet production. And with this new configuration creating an L-shape, it really sits in a very small floor space compared to some of the competitors that take up 7m-8m to make the landscape books. That in itself I would expect to push this into digital print shops where space is at a premium," Hillhouse explained.
The PowerSquare 160 and 224 systems configured with the VF bin feeder are available at strating prices of around £50,000 and £70,000 respectively.
The acquisition of Watkiss had prompted a lot more interest from printer vendors, Hillhouse said, with orders up for both inline and offline products.
"Watkiss is a great product but they were a relatively small company. Now that product has the backing of the whole Plockmatic organisation with worldwide distribution, sales and support so we are really able to expand the sales channel for it," he added.
As a result Hillhouse said that the group was looking to expand its circa-58 staff workforce at Watkiss' Sandy site with a recruitment drive for electrical and mechanical assembly staff and new software engineers.
"The order book is full and if you order a machine today you are looking at a 8-10 week lead time which we are working hard to reduce," he said.
The Plockmatic Group employs around 120 people in total.