How a Lay Flat Book Is Made

How a Lay Flat Book Is Made

Read Time: 4 Minutes


18 Dec 2023

What Is A Lay Flat Book?

A lay flat book simply put is a type of book binding technique that lays completely flat when opened on a surface. When you open a lay flat book, there is no gap or gutter (the gutter of a book is the blank space where the left and right pages meet) between the pages. This means that you can create a book with seamless, high impact double-page spreads. 
Lay flat binding is an ideal solution for creating a lay flat photo book, luxury coffee table book or showcasing landscape shots that are panoramic and require seamless uninterrupted printing. Lay flat is one of the most effective book binding types when it comes to visual storytelling.


Our lay flat books come with two cover options;

Soft cover book:

A soft cover book offers seamless flat pages complete with a soft yet sophisticated cover. Perfectly flexible when reading and exploring a book’s captivating content.

Hard cover book:

A hard cover book exudes luxury with its 2500mic hardback cover, a suitable fit for books that need to stand the test of time whilst featuring the same lay flat qualities as a soft cover book.


How Are Lay Flat Books Printed?

The lay flay book printing method is rather simple but takes time and dedication to perfect to achieve our signature high quality product. Our team of book binding specialists have years of experience under their belt and they ensure that every book that leaves our factory is of only the highest quality.


The Printing Process


Step 1: Pre-Press

At instantprint, we understand that books are complex, requiring true attention to detail. Before sending to print, our skilled studio team will get to know your artwork, checking the specifications in detail and preparing your file for print using our rigorous and free 10 point artwork check.


Step 2: Printing

Machines: Nanographic, Litho and Digital
Your design will be sent down to our factory where our skilled operators will begin printing your design onto your chosen paper stock. Here, your inner pages will be printed as well as your cover.

In our factory, you’ll find the best of the best when it comes to our equipment. Printed on our state-of-the-art machines, your book’s artwork is brought to life.


Step 3: Embellishment and Lamination

Machine: MGI JETvarnish / Autobond Laminators
At this stage, if you have opted for any embellishment or lamination on your book’s cover, this will also be added.

Utilising our MGI JETvarnish, this machine can add spot UV or foil to your book’s cover. If you need premium-looking print, this is the machine to thank. You can read more about spot UV and foil in our blog here.

For lamination, our Autobond Laminators are able to offer a range of solutions from matt to gloss. The heated chrome rollers of our Autobond Laminators help create a strong smooth seal to both sides of your print in one pass. Learn more about lamination and the different types in our blog here.


Step 4: Trimming

Once the pages have been printed they are guillotined to ensure they’re trimmed to the correct size required for the lay flat process, we will usually leave an extra 3mm as the books will be trimmed again to your specified size e.g. A5, after being bound.


Step 5: Folding

Machine: Heidelberg Stahl Folder
When your design has been printed, the folding process begins on our Stahl BH56 folding machine.

When printing a lay flat book, the interior pages are counted in multiples of four to ensure that your book isn’t left with any blank pages when bound together, which is why, on our website, you’ll find that the number of printed pages you can choose from go up in multiples of 4.

It’s important to note that we only print our lay flat books on certain stocks due to the intricate drying process of the pages after gluing.

Signatures and inner pages don’t take into consideration your book cover as this is printed separately. 


Step 6: Gathering

Machine: Kolbus KM 600 Perfect Binder
Once the pages have been folded they are then gathered in the correct order, ready to be duplexed together. The pages are collated on the Kolbus KM 600.


The Binding Process


Step 1: Duplexing

Machine: Kissun DB440 K-Binding Machine
The process of creating a lay flat book involves duplexing or glueing one folded sheet to the next, back to back to create the pages and overall book block. This is unlike perfect binding where the individual pages are glued directly into the spine.

The last page of each signature is covered on one side with adhesive and glued to the first page of the next signature. This process is continued until all the signatures are joined. This means that the overall thickness of your book’s pages will become double. Two 140gsm pages glued together will become 280gsm thick. For our lay flat books, we use an Expert White stock from Fedrigoni to ensure durability and quality.

Our lay flat manufacturing process utilises the Kisun DB440, a dual feeding system that applies adhesive to the paper sheets, the special adhesive we use for our lay flat books is Alfast 654.

Once your book is gathered we apply a 400gsm stiffener board which supports the binding of the book block to the cover. 


Step 2: Pressure

Machine: CMC Q Press
Once all of the pages have been duplexed and glued together, this creates what is known as a book block. A book block is all the collated pages of a book created before being bound or covered.

After all pages have been securely bonded, our operatives will position the book block into the CMC compressor. Placed under pressure to help the glue bind with the pages, this helps to create a strong bind that can be opened and laid flat with ease once dry.


The Finishing Process


Soft Cover

Machine: Guillotine
With the finished book block glued, the cover can be added. The book cover is expertly creased and the book block is cased into the creased cover. For our softcover lay flat books, a wrap-around cover is added by hand to the outside of the book block using wet glue to create the finished product. 

For softcover books, once the adhesive is dry, the final book is then trimmed along three sides to ensure the final pages are neat and consistent on our guillotine.


Soft Cover

Machine: Kolbus Case Maker DA 260, Kolbus BF513 Casing In Machine and Guillotine 
At this stage, if you have opted for a hardcover book, once the adhesive is dry, the book block is then trimmed along three sides to ensure the final pages are neat and consistent before binding to the cover. 

For our hardcover lay flat books, a few more steps are involved in creating the cover. If you opt for a hardcover, your book will be attached to a 2500-micron greyboard where we will cover your book's front and back pages as well as the spine.

The greyboard, the material that makes the cover hard, is guillotined to size. The greyboard hardcover will be slightly larger than your specified inner size such as A4, usually 3mm to ensure the cover is attached correctly.

The greyboard and cover are brought together using our Kolbus Case Maker, where the hardcover is created.
The finished case or ‘cover’ is then fed into our Kolbus casing in machine along with your existing book block where the hardcover is then attached to the book block via the greyboard using glue.

Endpapers are the first and last sheets of paper in a book and are what attach the book block to the cover.

Final Checks

Once complete, our expert team will take time to check over your finished product to make sure it meets our high standards. Your books will then be sent to our dispatch team who will carefully package your print ready to be collected by our couriers and shipped to your business.


What Machines Are Lay Flat Books Printed On?

We print the pages of your lay flat book on different machines depending on the quantity. For smaller quantity orders, it’s likely that your inners are printed on one of our digital printers, for larger orders our team will utilise the power of our lithographic printers.


Nanographic Printing - Landa S10P

When printing lay flat books on our silk and uncoated stocks, it’s likely that we’ll use the Landa! We’re the proud owners of the UK’s first nanographic press – a new printing technology that is set to revolutionise our industry. The Landa helps us combine the methodology of lithographic offset printing with a digital operating system, which means your print gets the best of both worlds.


Lithographic Printing

For lay flat books ordered in larger quantities, we’ll send them to be printed lithographically through trusted machines such as the Heidelberg Speedmaster. It’s one of the first litho presses capable of changing jobs fully automated and is incredibly efficient.


Digital Printing

For books that require printing on our less common stocks such as gloss, we’ll most likely print these on our HP Indigos. Our Indigos are highly automated machines, which ensure that we can keep productivity high even between jobs. Utilising digital printing ensures that your book costs are also kept low, it also allows us to offer a faster turnaround on your print and more flexibility on finishes.


Kisun DB440

Our lay flat manufacturing process utilises the Kisun DB440, a dual feeding system that applies adhesive to the paper sheets. It’s the world’s best photo book and album, binding time-saving solution that’s compatible with all types of presses, printers and on-demand systems. The special adhesive we use for our lay flat books is Alfast 654, which bonds all pages. 


Kolbus Casemaker DA 260

With speeds of up to 40 cycles/min, the Kolbus Casemaker DA 260 ensures the automatic production of our bookcases from greyboard and paper into a sophisticated hard cover. Our DA 260 case maker is a professional machine engineered to exact specifications. Simple, one-man operation and fast and simple set-up contribute to the DA 260's high productivity.


Kolbus BF513 Casing In Machine

The machine that brings together your books hardcover and inners, the Kolbus BF513 Casing In Machine comprises the minimal processing range for automated hardcover production. As part of its compact design, the book form press is a component of the basic machine, with simple operation and fully automated adjustments thanks to the Copilot® system. The line adjusts in terms of height, width and thickness supported by the thickness measurement when the product is inserted.


In Conclusion

Lay flat books are the perfect choice for any visually striking book design. With a luxurious flat lay opening, two quality cover options and a durable finish, easily bring your designs to life with our innovative binding method, designed with truly uninterrupted printing in mind.


About the Author

Hi, I’m Ally and I’m instantprint’s PR Lead. I enjoy writing content to help small businesses succeed and inspire them to get creative with their print marketing.