Exploring Manufacturing CareersBindery Worker

In our educational series, we explore different careers in manufacturing.

Books, magazines, pamphlets, leaflets and newspaper inserts are just some of the reading materials that we read every day. These pages of printed matter would be distributed to the reading public only as loose sheets if it not for the work of bindery workers. They are the ones responsible for setting up, operating and maintaining the machines that fold, cut, drill holes, staple and basically bind together printed materials before they are distributed for public consumption. Bindery workers also include the very creative and absolutely skilled bookbinders who manually design and finish the binding of limited edition copies or restore rare books.

Bindery workers power up and operate different kinds of machines depending on the kind of material being bound. For example, they may simply have to use power folding machines for newspaper inserts or brochures. However, books and magazines require the operation of various machines before they can be released in their final form. One of these machines is called the power collating machine which can assemble the pages in sequence, also known in the industry as “signatures.” These “signatures” are then glued or stitched together. Pressing and trimming machines are then used to shape the bodies of these books. The book covers are then attached to the bodies of the books before finishing machines wrap up the process and make the printed materials ready for distribution.

Bindery workers may be asked to operate different kinds of equipment that span the entire bookbinding process or they may be responsible for operating only one type of machine. They are also tasked with maintaining the equipment they use regularly. This entails cleaning, lubricating and if necessary, fixing minor issues that may come up during the binding process. This may include using hand tools to open up machines and manually remove books and covers that have been damaged due to a malfunction.

Why Become a Bindery Worker

A career as a bindery worker is well-suited for individuals who like to work with machines and hand tools in the publishing industry. Those who want a job where the tasks are repetitive and must only be learned early on in the work will also find that working as a bindery worker fulfills this requirement. For those who are very artistic and have a deeper knowledge of bookbinding techniques, doing work in hand binderies will also prove to be quite fulfilling.

Bindery Worker Work Environment

Bindery workers are employed by industries in the printing industry as well as in firms that publish books, newspapers, periodicals and directories. Some also work for the employment services, converted paper manufacturing and advertising services industries. Binderies may be noisy places so bindery workers may need to wear ear plugs to protect their ears. They have to be ready to stand, stoop and lift books as they perform their tasks. Although the work is done during regular hours, some overtime may be necessary especially if they are trying to stay on schedule or if the demand for reprints of a particular book is very high. In printing firms where work is done 24/7, bindery workers may have to do shift work.

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