Star product: Tecnau and Smyth roll-fed folding and sewing book solution

Nessan Cleary
Monday, July 22, 2019

A turnkey solution for converting printed rolls into sewn books.

What does the machine do?

The solution essentially converts Smyth’s sheetfed DX-70 Plus folding and sewing system into a roll-fed solution thanks to the addition of Tecnau’s Unwinder u10 and a Cutter TC 7000 HS. It’s able to produce digitally printed thread-sewn books directly from the reel. The system can feed printed rolls to the cutter, stacking the resultant sheets into four- and eight-page printed signatures that can be folded and accumulated to form larger signatures and then sewn together.

When was it launched and what market is it aimed at?

The system was launched worldwide in December 2018. It has been developed to meet the growing demand from digital printers and publishers to produce layflat and high-quality digitally printed sewn book blocks.

How does it work?

The printed roll is mounted to the u10 Unwinder and fed into the Tecnau TC 7000 HS cutter to convert the roll into sheets. Those sheets are then automatically fed to the registering table of the DX-70 Plus. This can produce book blocks composed of four-page or eight-page inserted signatures. 

In the four-page mode, the sheets are accurately squared, collected and transported to the cross knife station to prepare the four-page inserted signatures ready to be sewn. However, in the eight-page mode, the sheets are parallel-folded into the buckle folder, and then collected and cross-folded to produce the eight-page inserted signatures.

Once the four-page or eight-page signatures are ready, a patented indexing system transports them on the sewing saddle, pressing the signature spine to produce compact sewn books.

A heading-up gripper guarantees signature alignment on the head side, and a precise signature locking system assures the “perfect” centering of the stitches on the signature spine during the sewing cycle.

The system includes a high-speed camera to control the sequence of the sheets, reading barcode, data matrix or OCR. The system can handle a variety of different jobs on the fly with minimal setup times and production costs.

How does it differ from previous models or products?

This is the first and only roll-fed solution that Smyth has offered, and is only possible because of the partnership with Tecnau. 

How fast/productive is it? 

The maximum sheet feeding speed is up to 190 A3 sheets per minute, though this depends on the signature composition and sheet size.

What is the USP of the product?

The system has a number of advantages. The TC 7000 HS cutter is equipped with a very precise dynamic cross cut and optional side trim cutting system to allow instant speed changes and stoppages, which in turn simplifies the book-block separation process during sewing. 

The DX-70 Plus can handle both four-page and eight-page inserted signatures. It includes a buckle folder to produce the eight parallel folded sheets and this folder has built-in deflectors for the production of four-page inserted signatures.

It also has a cross knife folding unit to get high precision and superior cross folding quality, and the Inserting station is equipped with a high-precision head/tail sheets alignment system. There’s also an optional automatic litho signatures feeder for producing conventional offset-printed sewn books.

How easy is it to use?

It should be fairly easy to use as it features automatic setup and has a self-programming software. The solution includes a bridge between the Tecnau and Smyth units so that the entire system can be run from the Smyth control panel and it only needs one operator to manage the full line.

What training and service support is on offer?

Both Smyth and Tecnau offer full training on the relevant elements following the installation.

Smyth also offers free remote technical assistance which can be used for quick and effective diagnostics. This can also help the operator with the machine programming and set up and for modifying and installing software updates.

How much does it cost?

Intelligent Finishing Systems, which is marketing the system in the UK, has yet to finalise pricing. 

What is the sales target, how many are installed currently worldwide and in the UK?

There are several UK installations of the individual Tecnau and Smyth units that make up this system, but none of the complete solution to date. 


Web width max 510mm

Sheet size max 720x720mm

Stitch positions 12

Stitch length 24mm

Speed 190 A3 sheets per minute

Price Pricing yet to be confirmed

Contact Intelligent Finishing Systems 020 8997 8053


There are several sewing machines available and these can be used in various configurations but the main alternative for anyone looking for a turnkey solution is the Roll-to-Book solution from Hunkeler and Meccanotecnica. This consists of Hunkeler’s UW6 unwinder and CS8 Cutter with Meccanotecnica’s Universe Sewing line. 

Web width max 560mm

Sheet size max 420 x 560mm

Stitch positions 10

Stitch length 19mm

Max speed 110mpm

Price POA

Contact Friedheim International (for Hunkeler) 0843 289 3410 Kolbus UK (for Meccanotecnica) 01908 317878


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