Archive for December, 2008


Paper Cutter Tips For Scrapbookers

Posted by: admin on December 31st, 2008

Scrapbooking is one of the fastest growing hobbies in the United States. Scrapbooking involves a wide assortment of materials, supplies and equipment. This involves various types of paper, scissors, paper cutters and laminators. If you have recently tried looking for scrapbooking equipment online, you have probably noticed that there is no shortage of choices.

Carl RT-200 Paper TrimmerThe difficult thing, when starting up this hobby, is finding the right equipment that will last for hundreds, if not thousands, of scrapbook pages to come. It may seem overwhelming, but do not be discouraged. This article will give you a few tips on choosing the right paper cutter for your future scrapbooking projects.

Although there are now many scrapbooking software programs available today, many scrappers still prefer old-fashioned cutting and piecing things together. They enjoy the texture, the socializing with friends and the overall finished product. Many feel printing a scrapbook page out on a printer simply takes away from the true spirit of scrapbooking.

As mentioned earlier, there are a lot of pieces that go into creating the ideal scrapbook page. One of the most important pieces is the paper cutter. This is because a paper cutter is required to cut pictures down to size and make other modifications to the paper and decorations.

There are many paper cutters to choose from. The two most popular scrapbooking paper cutters are arm paper cutters and rotary paper cutters and trimmers. Both types of paper trimmers are compact and easy to use.

Arm paper cutters use a pivoting arm with a blade on it. This arm is brought up and then back down to create the cut. Arm paper cutters have been around for some time, and although many safety modifications have been added, the overall design has not changed for years. These paper cutters aren’t as popular with scrappers. This is because many inexpensive models tend to make crooked cuts. This isn’t to say that all arm paper cutters are like this. Some paper cutters, from brands such as Kutrimmer, are very solid and durable.

Rotary paper cutters are now the cutter of choice for scrapbookers. Rotary cutters use a round wheel to slice through paper. This wheel is similar in appearance to a pizza cutter. The wheel sits in a housing that slides along a rail. These types of paper cutters are especially popular with scrappers due to their precision and ability to cut photographs. Many rotary cutters have interchangeable blades for creating a variety of cutting patterns. Carl rotary cutters, specifically the RT-200, is popular for this reason. Rotatrim is another popular brand due to is solid construction.

corner rounderLast, but not least, are the corner rounders. Corner rounders are popular for rounding the corners on pictures and paper. Most agree that rounding the corners, also a minor change, affects the overall appearance of the photograph. Corner rounders are often available with a variety of different cutting diameter dies. This usually varies anywhere from a 1/8-inch corner to a ½-inch corner.

Paper cutters continue to grow in popularity with scrappers and this popular hobby doesn’t appear to be running out of steam anytime soon. Contact Office Zone for more information on paper cutters.


Save Money In Difficult Economic Times By Shredding Your Own Paper And Documents

Posted by: admin on December 30th, 2008

Businesses are looking at ways to save money and trim costs. This may be to brace for difficult economic times or to simply streamline operations. One thing many businesses are now doing is reigning in outsourced operations. Many have discovered that outsourcing operations is inefficient, deprives them of control and doesn’t save as much money as initially hoped for. One of these operations heading back in house is paper shredding.

Paper ShredderThe trend during the 1990s and into the early 2000s was to pay a third party company to come shred documents (mobile shredding services). The idea was to save money and manpower. Storage bins were placed around the office and paper was deposited. Once a week, a third-party shredding service would empty the bins and take them back to their facilities for shredding. Some shredded the documents on-site, often in a back entrance parking lot. These services were usually contracted for a set period of time.

It has since been discovered, by many businesses, that employee manpower cost was a non-issue as long as paper was shredded on a constant basis rather than all at once at the end of the week. It ends up it doesn’t take any more time to shred a few documents than it does to deposit those same sheets of paper in a storage bin.

Part of this strategy is to place shredders in strategic locations around the office they can be used by a group of 8-12 people. For a business of 60 people, five to seven shredders can be placed in sales, accounting, purchasing and other departments. Shredder bins are very easy to access and can be emptied by custodial staff that already empty the garbage.

Security concerns are another reason to shred paper in-house versus outsourcing to another company. Although rare, there are documented cases of third-party shredding service employees stealing information and material. Many businesses don’t like the idea of temporarily losing control of their information. By shredding paper in-house, only trusted employees have access to the data before being shredded. This helps seal up leaks and ensures better security.

It doesn’t take much time to make up the cost of purchasing the shredders, versus paying a third-party company to shred the same paper. Depending on the size and the cost of the shredder, many businesses can make up the cost of purchasing their own shredder versus hiring a service within a few years.

Paper shredders should be used by all businesses and organizations to destroy receipts, cancelled checks, bills, mail, printouts and other sensitive material. Contact Office Zone for more information on paper shredders.

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Should You Purchase A Pouch Or Roll Laminator?

Posted by: admin on December 29th, 2008

Laminators and lamination technology have been around for decades. Not much as changed, as far as the film is concerned, but there are a few “modern” changes that have made lamination easier, faster and more professional. There are a few questions you may want to ask yourself before purchasing a laminator.

Laminators protect and preserve documents. This may be a menu for a restaurant, a treasured photograph Pouch Laminatorsor a stack of business cards. Some higher-end laminators can even be used to mount photographs, maps and posters to foam core board.

There are two primary types of laminators. These are pouch and roll laminators. Both ultimately bring about the same result and quality, but use slightly different methods to do this. Pouch laminators are typically smaller and are designed to laminate smaller documents. Roll laminators are designed to laminate many small items or larger documents such as posters or maps.

The largest documents usually laminated by pouch laminators are 8 ½ x 11 in size, although the length isn’t as much a limiting factor as is the width of the document. Roll laminators are usually around 25 inches in width, however, some industrial roll laminators can exceed 60 inches in width for laminating banners and other large material.

Pouch laminators use lamination pockets, referred to as pouch lamination film. These pockets are usually sealed on one side and open on three sides. Documents are then inserted into the pocket and run through the pouch laminator. This usually involves the assistance of a carrier, which is a non-stick manila-colored folder. The pouch is placed in the carrier to prevent the film from jamming in the machines and keeping hot glue from getting on the rollers.

Roll laminators use two separate rolls of lamination film. One is on the top and the other is on the bottom. The film is slid onto a metal mandrel, much like wrapping paper is on a cardboard core, which supports and dispenses the lamination film. The film is wound through the roll laminator prior to use. Once fully heated, material can then be run through the laminator.

A few modern changes that have manifest over the past few years with both pouch and roll laminators. Many laminators, both pouch and roll, now have digital readouts that indicate the temperature, speed and other settings. Adjustable temperature and speed control are both features that are now found on more than half the laminators on the market, where it used to be a small percentage. Many roll laminators also include cooling fans that help cool down the film as it exits the machine. This helps to prevent wrinkling and warping.

Lamination film is one of the most important parts of laminating something correctly. Years ago, when owning a laminator was cost prohibitive, pressure sensitive lamination film became very popular. Machines were not typically used and the film was manually applied to the document.

The downside to the pressure sensitive (cold) lamination film was the uneven application that resulted in wrinkles and bubbles. Pressure sensitive film is still used today, but primarily for heat sensitive documents and materials. The film is no longer manually applied, but is now used in conjunction with a cold laminator.

Hot lamination film is now the film of choice. While the glue is warmed in the laminator, silicon rollers evenly apply pressure to the film across the entire document. The more rollers in the laminator, the better the results. Film is available in a wide variety of sizes and thicknesses. The thickness of the lamination film is referred to as the mil. The mil thickness is measured in thousandths of an inch. Five-mil film is five-thousandths of an inch thick.

Laminators continue to be a popular tool for protecting and preserving documents. The type of laminator you buy or use depends entirely on the volume you need to laminate, the size of the document you need to laminate (thickness, length & width), future use, location where the laminator will be used and who will be using it. Contact Office Zone for more information on both roll and pouch laminators.


How To Shrink Wrap A CD Or DVD

Posted by: Morgan on December 23rd, 2008

Have you ever wanted to repackage a CD, DVD, or software box but didn’t know how? It’s a fairly simple process that requires some basic shrink wrap equipment and supplies.

The first item needed is some type of shrink wrap system. If your job is of the low-volume variety, an I-Bar Shrink Wrap Systemshrink wrap system with shrink film is recommended. I-bar shrink wrap systems are commonly used by video rental shops, video game stores, and other retailers that sell used DVDs, CDs and software.

I-bar shrink-wrap machines are popular with low to mid-volume shrink wrapping tasks. The end result is a professionally wrapped product, but it does take longer to package with an I-bar system. Higher volume jobs require an L-bar shrink-wrap machine that seals three sides of the shrink film in one pass.

Another advantage of an I-bar shrink wrap system is the ability to manipulate and move the shrink wrap film around the product with ease. Sealing multiple angles around a product may also be done. Three total passes with the I-bar are typically required to seal all sides of the film around a package, however you are not constricted to a specific pattern.

I-bar systems are also not limited to the height of a shrink tunnel. Lastly, I-bar shrink wrap systems include a heat gun that looks a lot like a hair drier. This is used to shrink the film.

Be sure to visit Office Zone’s Shrink Wrap Resources & Information Section for more details.


Save Money In Tough Economic Times By Binding Your Own Books

Posted by: admin on December 17th, 2008

Times are tough right now for many businesses and current economic conditions in one way or another affect most people. Businesses are looking for ways to trim costs and save money. One way this is being done is by bringing outsourced projects back to an “in-house” status. Businesses and organizations are saving money right now by doing their own book, report and presentation binding in-house.

Book Binding MachineBook binding isn’t complicated, and compared to paying a third party, the machines pay for themselves over a short period of time. The most common forms of binding, done by businesses, are comb, wire, coil and VeloBinding. The supplies are available in different sizes, colors and give the operator freedom to bind almost anything. Another advantage to binding books in-house is speed and convenience. With a binding machine, books can be bound in seconds, as they are needed.

Before taking the plunge towards in-house operations, determine how many books you will need to bind per day, week and month. Also determine how automated you want the binding machine to be. Many are not aware of this, but binding machines vary in functionality like a car. Some are completely manual, where others are almost fully automated. Cost does go up the more automated the machine becomes, but the amount of time and effort required to bind a book may be worth the investment.

There are four types of binding that are commonly used for in-house binding. The most popular of the four is comb binding; followed by coil binding, wire binding and VeloBinding. The binding process with these four types of binding machines is simple. Punch holes in the paper and covers, insert the binding element and close it. Most of these binding machines take less than a few minutes to use per book.

There are a few features to look for in a binding machine. One of them is an adjustable margin depth. This allows the operator to adjust how deep into the paper the holes will be punched. This is especially nice if you will be binding books of varying thicknesses. The thicker the book, the deeper into the margin the holes need to be punched. This helps to prevent pages from ripping out of the binding element. If you will not be binding thick books (100+ pages), this shouldn’t be a concern.

Another feature to be aware of are disengageable (disengaging) punching dies. This is also sometimes referred to as variable punching dies. This allows the user to determine which hole to or not to punch. This is very nice to have if you will be binding pages of varying sizes. It helps to eliminate the dreaded half-hole, which happens when the punching die runs off the paper and only punches part of it. If you will only be punching standard 8 ½ x 11-inch paper, this may not be a necessary feature.

Any printer, organization or business that creates books or reports can benefit from owning their own binding machine. Contact Office Zone for more information on binding machines.


How Do I Choose A Paper Shredder That Will Last Me For Years?

Posted by: admin on December 15th, 2008

Paper shredders come in all sizes, shapes and capacities. Choosing the right paper shredder up front will save you a lot of time and money. Knowing a few basic questions to ask yourself before taking the plunge will help eliminate a lot of useless paper shredders from your list.

What are the most common paper shredder complaints? Here are a few of them. The most common complaint is: “My shredder keeps jamming.” Also brought up are concerns about the motor overheating, Paper Shredderhaving to change the srhedder bag too often, the inability to shred staples and more.

If your paper shredder keeps jamming, chances are pretty good that you are shredding too much paper at a time. Before buying a paper shredder, be well aware of how many sheets of paper you would like to shred at a time. Also be aware that if you need to shred 25 sheets of paper at a time, don’t buy a paper shredder that will shred “up to” 25 sheets. Paper shredder manufacturers often like to hype up their shredders. They want to let you know the absolute maximum number of sheets you can run through the shredder before ruining it. This number is usually far too high to run on a continuous basis. We recommend you find a paper shredder that will shred at least 20% more paper than you need.

If you need to shred 25 sheets of paper at a time, buy one that will shred up to 30 sheets of paper at a time. Also take into consideration that your shredding volume may increase in years to come.

Not all paper shredders are designed to run on a continuous basis. Many paper shredders have a failsafe that turns the motor off if it gets to hot. This is to prevent damage to the motor. Many paper shredder manufacturers now put thermally protected motors in their shredders. These are known as continuous duty paper shredders.

It is highly recommended to buy a paper shredder with continuous-duty capabilities, even if you won’t be shredding on a continuous basis. You never know when you may need to shred a lot of paper in a day. Most paper shredders will say “continuous duty” on the box. If shopping online, most sites will also state “continuous duty” as a feature.

Is your paper shredder bin filling too quickly? Many people do not realize this, but a strip cut paper shredder will fill up a bin on average almost 60% faster than a cross cut paper shredder. This is because cross cut paper shredders, also known as confetti cut shredders, cut the paper into smaller pieces and easily compact in the shredder bin. Some cross cut paper shredders cut paper into smaller pieces that require even less bag changes. Also be aware that shredders are available with larger bins.

Many people want to be able to shred paper without worrying about staples or the occasional paper clip. In the past, metal pieces would almost definitely ruin shredder blades. Many shredders are now made with hardened steal blades capable of handling staples and the occasional paper clip. Again, this is usually listed on the box or Web site. It is still recommended not to shred particles of metal if it can be helped, but it is nice to have the assurance that a staple or paper clip will not ruin the shredder.

There are many brands of paper shredders available. Many department stores sell low-volume Chinese-manufactured paper shredders that can break down easily. There are a few trustworthy brands that are made from quality parts that will give you an edge on durability. These brands include Destroyit, HSM, Intimus, Dahle, Formax and Kobra. Many of these paper shredders are German-engineered and German-made.

Last, but not least, is maintenance. Proper shredder maintenance will extend the life of your shredder by several years. Many people do not realize this, but paper shredders need to be oiled on occasion. This isn’t a complicated process or messy like changing the oil in your car. It simply involves squirting oil on a piece of paper and running it through the paper shredder. You should oil a paper shredder every time you change the shred bag. It doesn’t take much, but it helps eliminate friction and metal-on-metal wear.

Regardless of the individual or company, everyone should use a paper shredder to destroy sensitive and personal information. Contact Office Zone for more information on paper shredders.


What Kind Of Employee Time Clock Should You Use?

Posted by: admin on December 9th, 2008

Employee time clocks are available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. These include old traditional punch clocks that use a time card, electronic swipe card systems and newer biometric time clocks that can scan a fingerprint to log an employee in and out. The type of time clock a business purchases depends entirely on the size of the organization, the type of software being used and the preferences of the accounting department.

Employee Time ClockThe most simple and basic time clock is the traditional analog punch clock. The concept is simple. Each employee is assigned a card. The time card is usually stored in a rack of some sort. The employee uses the card to punch in and out of work. The time registered on the time card is then used to determine pay. Some newer variations of punch-style time clocks feature digital LCD readouts and can tally time on the punch card.

A few advantages of a punch time clock is it is usually less of an investment on behalf of the employer and the clock requires little training to use. A few disadvantages of a time clock include buddy punching and the inability to export data to a computer. Buddy punching is the process of one employee punching in and out on behalf of another employee.

Card swipe time clocks are growing in popularity. These time clocks use a card, very similar to a credit card, to check in and out of work. The card is programmed with unique data for each employee. These cards are sometimes even used to access the entrance of a building. The card can easy be carried in a wallet, hung around the neck by use of a lanyard or clipped to a shirt by use of a badge holder.

Data from most card swipe time clocks can be exported to a computer for use with various accounting programs such as QuickBooks. The data is easy to read and maintains a running total of hours worked, overtime and other information.

Also popular are time clock software and keypad time clocks. Keypads work in a similar way to swipe card time clocks, except the employee logs in and out of work by punching in a number. Many keypad terminals also have a card swipe. Data can also be exported and used with a variety of accounting programs.

Time clock software is installed on a computer. Depending on the type of software, an employee can log in and out of work from a centralized computer, or if they have a network version of the software, they can log in and out of work from their own computer.

The latest and most exciting type of time clock to come to the market is biometric time clocks. These time clocks allow employees to punch in and out of work by using their finger or hand, depending on the model. Data can still be exported to a computer for use with accounting programs. The biggest advantage of biometric time clocks is the ability to eliminate buddy punching and the need to replace lost or broken cards.

Regardless of the size of business, any organization can benefit from the use of a time clock. Contact Office Zone for more information on time clock systems.


Should You Use An External Or Integrated Shrink Wrap Heat Tunnel?

Posted by: admin on December 8th, 2008

Most modern shrink wrap systems utilize some type of a heat tunnel. The heat is used to shrink film, either PVC or Polyolefin, for the packaging of DVDs, CDs, boxes, packages and more. A heat tunnel is the fastest way to complete the shrink wrap process, usually taking less than 5 seconds per item. This time is faster with many higher-end machines. The old way of shrinking film was by using a heat gun, which is Shrink Wrap Systemstill popular for low volume applications.

The older heat guns resemble a hair dryer. Many people think that they are in fact hair dryers. Heat guns actually output significantly more heat that a hair dryer. While heat guns will quickly shrink film, they do not evenly shrink the film all at once and require the user to turn the object over a few times to reach the entire surface area. Heat shrink guns are typically used with lower-volume shrink wrap machines, such as straight-bar sealers.

Shrink wrap heat tunnels have been around for some time. They are able to blow hot air around the object being packaged. This allows the shrink film to constrict evenly and all at once. Most heat tunnels have a variable temperature dial that allows the user to adjust the temperature, depending on the type of film and product being packaged.

External heat tunnels are usually integrated with a shrink wrap machine by use of a conveyor system. Once the film has been cut around the product, the operator slides the package onto the conveyor where it is moved through the shrink wrap tunnel. Once the package exits the heat tunnel, another conveyor can be used to transport the product to another area. Sometimes a bin sits at the exit of the heat tunnel to collect packaged material.

Integrated shrink wrap tunnels, such as those found in most Minipack shrink wrap machines, seal film around the object being packaged and shrink the film in one single pass. No conveyor belts are required. This newer style of heat tunnel is now found in most modern shrink wrap machines.

The advantages of an integrated tunnel are speed, convenience and storage space. It is recommended by most professionals to purchase a system with an integrated shrink tunnel if an operator is to be present. If the machine is entirely automated without any human interaction, an external separate heat tunnel is still the equipment of choice.

Separate heat tunnels are a great option for those with existing systems that need to upgrade to something more robust and fast. Tunnels are available in various widths and heights to accommodate most products requiring shrink packaging.

Shrink wrap systems with integrated or separate tunnels are a great option for those packaging more than a few dozen items per day. You can contact Office Zone for more information on shrink wrap systems and tunnels.


How To Create A Photo ID

Posted by: admin on December 2nd, 2008

Photo IDs are used almost everywhere. You need identification for employment, as a student, for driving, for getting into clubs and more. Photo IDs usually consist of a name, a picture, a birth date and other relevant information. Creating a photo ID, for legal purposes, is simple and easy.  This guide includes step-by-step instructions on how to create a simple photo identification.

Photo ID PrinterThe first item you will need to create a photo ID is a camera (preferably digital).  For an identification to look good, it is recommended that the subject being photographed be in front of a backdrop. There are many inexpensive backdrops available to purchase, typically available with a wide variety of colors. If a backdrop cannot be purchased, a sheet or a white wall can work. The backdrop makes the face easy to see and eliminates background distractions.

The second item needed is photo ID software. There are several software packages available from Card Five, EpiSuite, Asure ID and others. These software packages typically come with a few standard templates and feature a “wizard” that makes it easy to create your own custom template. This usually involves choosing a color for the card, some text, a picture and sometimes a logo. The software makes it easy to import clipart and photographs.

Other options that can be added to an ID card are a bar code or magnetic stripe. Most ID card software includes the ability to encode this information. Bar codes are the easiest to produce and do not require a special ID card printer. Simply enter the information you want in the bar code, choose the bar code format you would like to use and the software generates the bar code for you.

Encoding a magnetic stripe is just as easy, but your printer has to have a card encoder built into it. If you don’t have an encoder in your printer, separate magnetic stripe encoders are available as stand-alone units. If your printer has an encoder in it, the stripe will be encoded with the necessary information as the card is printed.

Now that you have a design, pictures and software, you can print the cards. This is done using a digital ID card printer. These are printers specifically designed to handle CR80 PVC cards. These cards are typically white, but can usually be ordered in special colors if needed. CR80 cards are the same size and thickness of a credit card.

Printers are available in monochrome, full-color, single-sided and double-sided designs. Although these printers are a bit of an investment up front, the cost is quickly made up versus having an outside company print the ID cards for you.

The amount of time it takes to print an ID card depends on the printer. It also depends on whether you are printing a single color or a full-color ID. Monochrome cards can usually print in about half the time of a full-color identification card. The total time is usually under a minute per card. Some are as fast as a few seconds.

Once the ID card is printed, it is usually necessary to present the ID in a convenient way. This usually involves carrying the ID card in a badge holder that can be pinned to a shirt or be attached to a lanyard. Slot punches are also available to punch a hole directly into the card for use with a badge strap clip, lanyard or badge reel.

Creating photo ID cards are quick and easy and can be done by anyone. Many businesses, colleges and other organizations are switching over to in-house ID card production. Contact Office Zone for more information on photo ID cards, software and accessories.