Photo Create, Australia’s leading ‘automated print and fulfilment partner’ for print-on-demand gifts, recently commissioned two automated lay-flat photo book making units from Swiss manufacturer Layflat.com.
Photo Create was established almost 20 years ago and has been a noted innovator from the start. With 100 full time employees and up to 300 casuals at peak times, it is the largest employer (and Australia Post customer) in NSW regional centre of Glen Innes. It runs two production factories for digital print on demand and gifting, plus storage despatch and warehousing, and ships products around the world.
Layflat.com recently appointed Independent Photographic Supplies (iPhoto) as Australian and New Zealand distributor for its extensive range of premium lay-flat book binding equipment.
Photo Create decided on two mid-range LF600 All-In units for the flexibility to meet peak demand in a seriously seasonal business, and for redundancy purposes in off-peak times.
‘We wanted two units for redundancy purposes rather than one higher volume machine,’ Photo Create managing director, Hugh Eastwood explained. ‘They are both ticking over now as we are in a peak volume period.’
Unlike other photo book binding systems, which create books which cannot be fully opened to literally ‘lay flat’, leading to a loss of content around the gutter of any two-page spreads, lay-flat books can be fully opened, providing a continuous display without any content blocked.
The Layflat LF 600 All-In is a fully automatic book block system which can produce lay-flat book blocks from single sheets. It includes a creaser and a folder and creates photo books by Hotmelt-gluing pages back-to-back. Operators can optionally insert cardboard in between sheets for stiffer pages. It can handle sizes from 152 152mm (6×6-inch) to 330mm x 460mm (13×18-inch).
Hugh Eastwood explained that Photo Create used to offer lay-flat style photo books years ago but ‘it was a fairly manual, cumbersome process.’ He said production costs made the books too expensive to generate demand.
‘Lay-flat books are a premium product, but customers won’t pay three or four times as much,’ he said.
‘Now we can offer lay-flat books at a premium 30-40 percent above standard price.’ He added that market data indicated lay-flat books should account for around 20 percent of total demand.
‘We commissioned the equipment about two months ago,’ said Hugh. ‘It only took 48 hours to get up and running and it’s led to a successful wholesale launch.
‘We are happy with the machines – there have been no teething problems and the iPhoto tech guys knew their stuff.’ (iPhoto sent two technical managers overseas for pre-installation training prior to setting up the equipment at Photo Create .)
‘Our people operating the machines are very happy with them. They do what they promised.’
He said Layflat.com seemed the best solution given Photo Create’s volumes and types of market, and the technical support and price offered by iPhoto.
‘When we analysed options it was the most practical,’ he said.
Photo Create is staging the roll-out of lay-flat books, with several local and international clients in the ‘first cab off the rank’.
He noted that the market for text-based, print-on-demand books such as those offered by customised children’s book publishers, was now as large as the growing photo book segment.
Photo Create is using digital press printing technology from Fujifilm and Indigo to create single-sided pages to be fed into the LF600s.
Stuart Holmes, managing director of Independent Photographic Supplies (iPhoto) also in its 20th Year, noted that the addition of the Layflat range of book binding equipment to iPhoto’s ‘Best Brands in Imaging’ line up was a natural bridge from photographic printing to the premium book publishing world, and it has allowed providors of quality photo specialty products like PhotoCreate to produce premium quality lay-flat books in a high volume production environment.