Me & my: Kolbus DA 270

Simon Creasey
Thursday, October 17, 2019

Sometimes making the decision to swap out an old bit of kit for a new one can be a difficult call. New equipment can be expensive and can take a while to bed in. You might experience downtime and it will take staff a while to get up to speed on the equipment.

You’ve also got the added challenge of filling the new machine. These are all factors that Kevin Lee, production director at Stockport-based printer and print finisher Deanprint, took into consideration when the company decided to upgrade a casemaker. 

Lee says the existing machine, a Kolbus DA 260, which had been bought secondhand around eight years ago, had been a loyal servant. However, the company needed a newer piece of kit that offered more automation and greater efficiencies. 

“On our old casemakers for our three-part cases for hardback book production, we were cutting out the front piece of board, the spine and the back piece of board,” he explains. “So you had a guillotine operator who was permanently supplying that machine. We also had slight variation. When you’re cutting spines you could only cut on the guillotine eight or 10 at a time or you’d start to get slightly angled mitre edges, so you would have more jams and more stops [on the casemaker] because of the inaccuracy of the substrate you were putting in it.”

It was clear that what Deanprint needed was the latest generation of casemaker. Step forward the Kolbus DA 270, which the company installed in January this year after a short selection process.

“When we bought our existing [Kolbus] machine I looked around the market at the different options, but there has been nobody new come to the marketplace recently so I was basically looking at the same options. Having already done that research this time around we knew what we wanted.”

Lee went out to Germany to look at the machine and he also looked at some used options, but in the end he decided to plump for a brand new one and traded in the old DA 260. What he particularly liked about the DA 270 was its familiarity. 

“The actual carcass of the machine and all of the movements involved in the machine are exactly the same as the DA 260. The software is familiar to our operators as well so it was a very familiar machine and we were two-thirds of the way there in terms of training from a standing start, which from a production point of view is always beneficial.” 

Installation ran smoothly with the old machine shipped out in around a day and a half and the new one installed over four days with a couple of days training for the operators. 

“We didn’t have much downtime at all,” says Lee. “Also we have a couple of CMC LPA [casemakers] that we could make cases on by hand on so that offered back up if it were necessary. Thankfully we’ve got redundancy for just about everything – we’ve got 110 pieces of kit.”

Throughput boost

The DA 270 is the latest addition to this armoury and it one of the investments that Lee is most pleased about thanks to the increased productivity it offers. On the DA 260 the company could produce around 35 cases a minute, but on the new model this has almost doubled to 65 cycles/min on cases up to 670x390mm in size, cloth up to 708x428mm and boards up to 328mm wide, 390mm high and 4mm thick.

Much of this bump in speed is due to the DA 270’s inline board cutter, which means guillotining is no longer necessary. “It takes a single piece of board and cuts it into the three pieces of board for a three part case or two pieces of board if it’s going to take a two part press bound case. So it changes our world,” says Lee.

The machine is also capable of producing wire-bound covers. This versatility has been a boon for the business. 

“For the first time I’ve actually been able to catch up,” says Lee. “Previously I was always chasing myself, but we can be ahead of the game now and we have the capacity to take on other clients.”

As well as being easier to use than the old machine the quality of work it produces is also better, which means there is less downtime. “The inline board cutter is consistently cutting accurately so you don’t get the issues that you could have if you’re making cases by hand or by a less automated machine, because tolerances are so tight and nice on the new one. As a result, you can control it more and you don’t have crooked spines or boards that are slightly twisted or have baggy corners that can all give you problems further down the line in book production.”

The board cutter also automatically feeds the board into the machine, unlike on the DA 260, where it had to be fed in by hand. Other efficiencies offered by the DA 270 include pre-melting of the glue so it’s always feeding ahead of the machine needing it. “On the 260 we were quick enough that we would often outpace the glue tank,” says Lee. “Now we don’t have to stop to wait for the glue.”

And the cover feeder feeds from the bottom so you can add more covers while the machine is running. “The old machine used to take covers from the top of the stack so you had to physically stop the machine to add more covers,” says Lee. 

Although the machine is now fully bedded in he admits that there were a few teething problems. “Kolbus has responded well to any of our calls,” says Lee. “If you have any brand new machine you know there are going to be a few issues, it’s par for the course.”

Any minor issues have been more than offset by the speed the DA 270 offers the company. “The quality is similar to the 260, but we can achieve it at twice the speed,” says Lee. “It gives us the ability to manage the rest of production more efficiently as well because we can supply the covers and the cases for things in good time ahead of other elements of production. Previously we would sometimes have a little bit of a backlog of work, which never fundamentally affected final delivery to customers, but it can give you issues within the production cycle in terms of you could have done it more efficiently if you could have got those cases off earlier. Now we have the capability to do that.”

Although Lee loves the new DA 270 he admits that in an ideal world he would have kept the Kolbus DA 260 as well. “But that’s a production utopia and you can’t have everything,” he says. With the latest addition to the company’s impressive array of equipment it sounds like the company is pretty close to paradise already. 


Case Size range opened case (width x height) min 205x140mm; max 670x390mm

Cloth Width 708–223mm; height 428–130mm

Boards Thickness 1–4mm; width 328–95mm; height 390–140mm

Mechanical speed Up to 65 cycles/min

Price DA 270 Kolbus Casemaker range starts from £325,000

Contact Kolbus UK 01908 317878


Deanprint was established in 1890 and operates in three key markets: government contracts, educational resource production and traditional print finishing. Over the past few years the company has invested in the latest print technology; last October it installed an MBO K80 B1 combination folder, which followed close on the heels of the installation of a Rilecart B-535 wire-binding machine. The company’s 4,650sqm base is home to more than 100 pieces of kit, including two Heidelberg Speedmaster presses which are used for the production of its own book-related products. Deanprint turns over just under £3m and employs 42 members of staff.

Why it was bought...

The company wanted to invest in a more automated casemaking machine to replace an ageing model and improve productivity levels. 

How has it performed...

The quality of the work it produces is “superb” according to Lee, who says the single best thing about the machine is its speed coupled with the ability to cut the boards inline.” The accuracy of the cutters also makes for “fewer stops and more efficient runs”.


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