Archive for December, 2012


Intelli-Fold DE-172AF Paper Folding Machine Review

Posted by: James on December 28th, 2012

DE-172AF Paper Folding MachineIf your business folds hundreds to thousands of sheets of paper per day, you may want to consider buying a paper folding machine. These machines can be used to fold invoices, letters, brochures, pamphlets and much more. One machine that our customers enjoy using is the Intelli-Fold DE-172AF paper folder by Intelli-Zone (found here). I have had the opportunity to use this machine on several occasions and this is my review.

The Intelli-Fold is an upgraded version of the Intelli-Fold DE-202AF (including the Dynafold DE-202AF). While the DE-202AF is a solid machine, the DE-172AF has a few upgraded features. This includes sensors that let you know when the folding plates aren’t properly seated, when the cover isn’t closed and when the paper is out. It also includes a powered exit conveyor with a set of stacking wheels.

The added sensors are a nice addition because one of the most common culprits for a paper folding machine jam is improperly seated folding plates. Any gap or incorrect clearance in the plates can results in a fairly serious paper jam.

The inclusion of a powered exit conveyor helps bring order to the paper folding process. Many folding machines have a basic catch tray. While this works, it can lead to the paper becoming disorganized and jumbled. The conveyor, along with the stacking wheels, help slow the paper down as it leaves the machine and keeps it organized and stacked. This is excellent for organizational purposes and helps keep invoices, bills and other documents in order.

The DE-172AF utilizes a high-speed motor that folds paper at a speed of up to 6,000 sheets per hour. While it is not recommended to run this machine at full speed for hours on end, it is fast. It also features a variable speed motor. This allows it to more easily handle various paper thicknesses and adds an extra degree of control to the operator. The DE-172AF can be used with paper ranging in thickness from 16# bond up to 50# index.

The feed tray on this machine holds up to 500 sheets of standard 20# bond paper. What I appreciate is that you don’t have to pre-fan the paper. Simply press down on the spring loaded tray (paper squared up) and the machine will automatically begin pulling one sheet at a time from the top of the stack. The feed system works very well. A total of three rollers help ensure the paper is pulled in straight for more accurate folds.

I have personally set up this machine and would say it takes about 2-3 minutes to properly set up. Once set, no further adjustments are needed unless a different paper size is used. The DE-172AF can use paper ranging in size from 3.5″ x 5″ up to 11″ x 17″. All you need to do is find the sheet size you are folding on the two folding plates, determine the type of fold you need to create and adjust the folding plates accordingly. The process is very simple. If the paper seems to be slightly off skew, I recommend either re-aligning the paper guides or making fine-tuned adjustments to the folding plates.

Overall I highly recommend this machine. It is a great fit for small businesses, medium-size businesses, church, school or copy shop. It is easy to use, our customers tell us it is very reliable and it is priced right. Please feel free to give us a call at 1-800-543-5454 with any questions you may have about the Intelli-Fold DE-172AF. You can find our entire selection of paper folding machines here.


How Do Counterfeit Bill Detectors Work?

Posted by: James on December 21st, 2012

Counterfeit Money DetectorsCounterfeiting money is a multimillion dollar industry in the United States. If you don’t protect yourself, or your business, you could quickly end up with bogus currency and could be out hundreds of dollars or more. Many of our customers have purchased and now use portable counterfeit detectors (found here) that they use for scanning $50, $100 and sometimes other denominations. This is a great way to catch counterfeit bills and save yourself money. So how does a counterfeit bill detector work and which type should you use?

Bill counters come in a variety of designs, depending on the amount of money you need to scan and how often you need to use it. Some machines scan everything at once, where other machines have stations that detect different counterfeit elements in a bill. You can read more about important features in bills by going here. Here are the four most common counterfeit detection methods used today:

  • Magnetic (MG) – US currency uses magnetic ink in strategic areas that can be detected by a counterfeit bill detector with magnetic detection.
  • Ultraviolet (UV) – US bills have ultraviolet strips (inscribed security thread) placed in different areas, based on the value of the denomination. The location of this strip will let you know what the value of the bill is. This method of counterfeit detection is excellent for catching bills that have been bleached and re-printed with higher denominations.
  • Watermark (WM) – Modern US bills have a watermark built into the bill. The watermark is of the face of the individual printed on the bill. Using a light, this watermark can be viewed and authenticity of the bill can be verified.
  • Ink Pen – The counterfeit pen uses special ink that reacts with starches found in regular paper (not present in bills). If the ink shows up, the bill is counterfeit. If the ink is clear, the bill is probably real.
  • Visual – There are many visual elements found in a US bill that can be seen by the naked eye or with a magnifying glass. Some of those visual elements can be seen by going here .

Now that we have established the counterfeit features built into a bill, what type of machine should you use? Here are a few examples of machines you may want to use.

  • Bill Counter w/ Counterfeit Detection (found here) – Many modern bill counters include ultraviolet, magnetic or both types of detection. This is a very fast way to scan through a stack of bills. If the bill doesn’t pass the UV / MG test, the machine will stop and audibly alert the operator.
  • Handheld UV ScannersHandheld UV Light (found here) – These are handheld UV lights that can be held over a bill to highlight the UV properties. This is a cheap and affordable way to verify money. These are especially popular because they are often battery-powered and are very easy to move around.
  • Counterfeit Bill Scanner (found here) – These scanners use very sophisticated technology to scan a bill for multiple properties. Many can even verify the denomination value of the bill being scanned. It usually takes a second or two for the bill to be scanned. The machine will then alert the operator as to the authenticity of the banknote.
  • Counterfeit Bill Detector StationsCounterfeit Station (found here) – Counterfeit detection stations are tabletop devices that usually incorporate several counterfeit detection technologies. Many of these stations, like the ABC-95, include a magnetic ink scanner, backlit light, UV light, magnifying glass and a counterfeit detection pen.

At Office Zone, we offer several counterfeit bill detectors (found here). The model you use depends on the business, volume of bills being handled and where the bills need to be scanned. We have years of experience with money handling devices including counterfeit bill detectors. If you have questions, please give us a call at 1-800-543-5454.


Top Rated Heavy Duty Staplers

Posted by: James on December 20th, 2012

If you’re doing a lot of stapling on a daily basis, you should really be using a heavy duty stapler (found here). At Office Zone, we offer a great selection of heavy duty staplers ranging from desk mounted saddle staplers to tabletop electric staplers. We have years of experience with staplers and I would like to share some of our top rated staplers with you. These are staplers that have a proven track record and have proven themselves to be reliable.

Choosing a stapler can be a tricky task. If you’re not sure which stapler you need, consider reading our stapler guide found here. Staplers come in all shapes and sizes. This includes saddle, long reach, flat, high capacity and more. I would like to recommend one stapler from each of the categories we offer on our site.

Manual Saddle Stapler

  • Screbba W115 StaplerSkrebba W115 (found here) – This is by far one of the best and most versatile manual saddle staplers we offer. Besides the quality, I really like the fact that this stapler can easily be changed from saddle stapling to flat stapling, making it excellent for a variety of stapling jobs. It connects to the edge of a table and has a 50 sheet stapling capacity (based on 20# paper). This is very affordable and is excellent for medium-duty stapling jobs. The included guides make it easy to staple along multiple locations. You simply won’t find a better manual saddle stapler.

Electric Saddle Stapler

  • Rapid 106 Saddle StaplerRapid 106 (found here) – The Rapid 106 stapler has been around for years. Like the W115, the Rapid 106 can be adjusted from saddle stapling to flat stapling easily. The stapler connects to the side of a stable and quickly staples through up to 40 sheets of paper. It can even be connected with other Rapid 106 units for simultaneous stapling. The Rapid 106 can staple paper via the micro switches or by using a foot pedal. I have used this stapler personally multiple times and really like it.

Long Reach Staplers

  • Skrebba W117L Long Reach StaplerSkrebba W117L (found here) – The W117L is a heavy duty flat stapler and features long reach capabilities. It will staple through up to 120 sheets of standard 20# bond paper and has 10″ depth adjustment capability. A nice angled handle makes stapling easy. This long reach stapler has been a customer favorite for about a decade and has one of the best track records when it comes to staplers.

Header Card Staplers

  • Staplex S-630NHL Card Header StaplerStaplex S-630NHL (found here) Staplex is synonymous with quality when it comes to stapling. Staplex staplers are made in the USA and the S-630NHL feels like it was crafted out of a solid block of metal. It is excellent for high-volume header card stapling throughout the day and uses a powerful motor to pound staples through up to 40 sheets of paper at a time.

Desktop Electric Staplers

  • Staplex Model ST Desktop Electric StaplerStaplex Model ST (found here) – If you need a nice tabletop electric stapler for use in the office, the Staplex ST is excellent. It has a small footprint, takes up little space, and can staple up to 18 sheets of paper at a time. This is a well built stapler and far outperforms and outlasts cheaper electric staplers. This is the stapler you want if you are stapling frequently on a daily basis in an office environment. I have seen these staplers used at the DMV for attaching expiration stickers to registration paperwork.

These are some top notch staplers and as I mentioned earlier, they all have a great track record with our customers. While I didn’t list them all here, I would like to mention that we have always had great luck with our entire lineup of Staplex Staplers. They are made in the USA and feature high-end components. If you still have questions about staplers, or need a recommendation, feel free to call us at 1-800-543-5454. You can find our entire selection of staplers here.


Book Binding – Electric or Manual Punching?

Posted by: James on December 17th, 2012

Binding Machine PunchesWhen it comes to book binding several different styles are available, each with their own unique look. One thing in common with all book binding formats, including comb, wire and coil (found here), is the option of buying a machine with a manual or an electric punch. If you are buying a book binding machine for office or home use, which format should you use? I try to help answer that question in this article.

The punching method you use will depend on a lot of factors. A few of these are more obvious than others. Before I go into why you may want one over another, I would like to explain exactly what is meant by manual and electric punch.

Manual – Manual comb binding machines use a lever to punch through paper. This lever is usually long and is designed to make paper punching as easy as possible. Some are even ergonomically designed for added comfort. Not all manual punches are the same. Quality and results will vary from brand to brand. There are three different types of punching handles

  • U-Shaped Binding HandleU Shaped – The U-shaped handle is one that connects on both sides of the machine. This is especially popular for lefties and you can punch from the left or right side of the machine. Most manual punch machines are designed for right-handed people. These handles are easy to grab and make punching very easy. The only downside is that the U design can obstruct the top of the machine and isn’t as “open” as a machine with the handle only on the right side.
  • Lever Style Manual Binding MachineLever – The lever is one of the most common punching handles found in comb, wire and coil binding machines.  The lever-style handle consists of a a long lever that comes out from the right-side of the machine. This lever can be straight or angled, depending on the design. There is nothing glorious or special about this design. It is fairly simple and straight forward.  Simply put your paper in and pull down on the lever to punch the paper. This can be used to punch 10 to 20 sheets of paper depending on the machine.
  • Lever w/ Handle Book Binding MachineLever w/ Handle – The lever with handle design is a very comfortable binding design. Instead of a straight lever that comes off the side of the machine, the lever includes a handle that comes off the side of the lever for added convenience. This design is much more ergonomically comfortable for the operator.

Electric – These machines use a powerful motor to punch through paper. It is ultimately designed for people who need speed or need to decrease manual effort for long binding runs. There are two primary methods used for punching paper with an electric punch:

  • Button – This is pretty straightforward. These types of electric punch machines have a button located on the front of the machine that is pressed to activate the motor.
  • Binding Machine with Foot PedalFoot Pedal – This is my favorite because it allows for hands-free use of the machine. Many machines with a foot pedal also include a button for punching paper. The foot pedal is usually either electric or pneumatic (a puff of air from the pedal presses a button on the machine).

Now comes the real question, should you get an electric or manual punch binding machine? Manual punch machines, in my opinion, produce just as good a job (final results) as an electric punch machine. Don’t feel you are getting a worse machine by purchasing a manual punch.

I would recommend you get an electric punch if you are punching and binding a lot of books per day, perhaps 20 or more a day on a regular basis. Electric machines are a little faster than manual machines, but the biggest benefit is for the operator. Binding 20+ books a day manually can take its toll with a manual punch machine. The only other reason you may want to consider an electric punch machine is for the sake of convenience.

If you still have questions about manual vs electric book binding machines, please feel free to give us a call at 1-800-543-5454. We have been working with binding machines for decades and can provide you with valuable answers and information. You can find our entire selection of book binding machines here.


What is Mil Thickness and Which is Best to Use?

Posted by: James on December 14th, 2012

Lamination Film Mil ThicknessIf you’re shopping for lamination film (found here), you undoubtedly have come across the term mil thickness. It is a critical part of the lamination film selection process. If you’re new to lamination, or simply want some clarification, I will explain exactly what a mil is and how many mils you should have in your film.

A mil is a measurement of thickness, much like gauge and microns is used to measure the thickness of other products. A mil is exactly a thousandth of an inch (0.001″). This measurement method is used in the United States to measure the thickness of lamination film, CR-80 cards, plastic and other material. A mil is equal to 100 gauge film or 25.4 microns.

The lamination process typically involves two layers of film (both pouch and roll lamination). In pouch lamination there is a pouch that consists of a folder with a top and bottom layer. The item being laminated goes in between the layers. Roll lamination uses two rolls of film, one on the top and another on the bottom. The mil thickness of the film only refers to one layer. This means a photo, paper, poster or other object laminated using 5-mil film consists of two 5-mil layers (top & bottom), which together add up to 10 mils of total film.

Lamination FilmSo which mil thickness should you use? A lot of it depends on what you are laminating and your own personal preference. The higher the mil number, the thicker the film is going to be. Lamination film typically comes in 1.5, 3, 5, 7 and 10 mil thicknesses. Here is what you would use each thickness for.

1.5 Mil Film – This is the thinnest lamination film available. It is designed solely to provide a protective layer and a nice finish, but doesn’t provide much additional support.

3 Mil Film – This is very popular with schools that need to laminate posters, signs, banners and student projects. It is still affordable, but provides enough protection for most school needs.

5 Mil Film – This is probably the most popular film we offer. It is affordable, provides good protection and still adds some rigidity and support. Most pouch and roll laminators can be used with 5 mil film.

Laminating Pouches7 Mil Film – This is probably the least common film used. It is generally used for its supportive properties and is a good option if you want a lot of rigidity, but perhaps don’t need it as thick as 10 mil.

10 Mil film – This film is purchased for its protective and solid supportive capabilities. This film is thick enough to provide paper, posters, banners and signs with optimal support. Objects laminated with 10 mil film don’t bend and can hold up through many conditions that would damage or destroy other mil thicknesses.

At Office Zone, we stock just about all of the lamination film we offer. This means we are able to provide you with a great price and fast shipping. If you need help determining the film your laminator can handle, or if you have general questions about lamination film, please feel free to give us a call at 1-800-543-5454. You can find our entire selection of lamination film and machines here.


Dahle 842 Stack Paper Cutter Review

Posted by: James on December 13th, 2012

Dahle 842 Stack Paper CutterIf you’re in the market for a budget stack paper cutter, the Dahle 842 (found here) is definitely a model you may want to consider. Stack paper cutters are very popular with businesses, copy centers and print shops that need to cut down large stacks or high-volumes of paper down to smaller sizes. The trouble with stack paper cutters, at least those you find on Ebay and elsewhere, is that they are assembled using tinker toys. I have used the Dahle 842 and this is my review.

The Dahle 842 is the first in Dahle’s Professional Series of stack cutters. It is German engineered, which in the cutting world is a very impressive fact. Dahle has been manufacturing shredders and cutters for decades now. A decade ago I was luke warm to the idea of a Dahle paper cutter, but over the past 10 years they have made some significant improvements to their designs and build quality.

As mentioned earlier, the 842 is Dahle’s entry level stack cutter. It can be used on a tabletop or with an optional floor stand. It is designed to compete right along with Intelli-Cut’s and Triumph’s line of stack cutters. It is a budget cutter. As of the time of this article, it is just over $1,200 with free shipping. This is a steal considering it can be used repeatedly throughout the day.

This cutter is completely manual. While it is gear driven, and features a lengthy leveraged handle, it still requires the operator to manually pull the clamp lever and the cutting handle. The good news is that it doesn’t take much effort to use. It can cut through 200 sheets of standard paper (about a 7/8″ stack). This is significantly more than you could ever do with a rotary or guillotine cutter. The cutting blade is made out of authentic German Solingen steel.

Unlike the Intelli-Cut and Triumph cutters, which use nice clear acrylic guards, the Dahle 842 features metal guards designed to keep fingers and hands safe. Dahle’s larger stack cutters feature clear acrylic guards. This is a safe cutter, but I do like the clear guards found on the other stack cutters. For the price, it really won’t affect the end results.

The biggest downside to this cutter is the limited 200 sheet cutting capacity. If you need a Dahle with a bit more cutting oomph, but still has the same cutting width, I recommend upgrading to the Dahle 846 (found here). The Dahle 846 has a 500 sheet cutting capacity, more than double that of the Dahle 842.

I’ll be honest, the Model 842 doesn’t have the finesse of a Triumph or Intelli-Cut paper cutter, but for the price, it is a great alternative. I consider it to be a well-built cutter and I think you’ll be very happy with it.

If you have questions about this stack cutter, or other models we offer, please call us at 1-800-543-5454. We have a lot of experience with stack cutters and would love to answer your questions or provide you with advice. You can find our entire selection of stack paper cutters here.


Traco SuperSealer I-Bar Replacement Parts Kit Instructions (Wire, Pad & Tape)

Posted by: James on December 11th, 2012

Traco Shrink Wrap MachinesIf you own either a Standard or a Deluxe Traco SuperSealer I-bar shrink wrap machine, eventually you are going to have to replace the nichrome wire, the silicon rubber pad and the Teflon tape (found here). These are all of the critical components that allow an I-bar sealer to cut and seal shrink wrap film. This article will cover symptoms of a worn out wire and includes instructions on how to replace the various components.

A worn out I-bar sealer can be very frustrating. Luckily changing out the components is a very easy process and doesn’t have to be done by a specially trained Service Technician. Symptoms of a worn out I-bar SuperSeler include:

  • Inability to completely seal the entire length of the film.
  • Excessive smoke during the sealing process.
  • Burrs and poor sealing along the sealed edge.
  • Burnt and charred film during the sealing process.

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, you may need a replacement kit. These kits are affordably priced and are designed to get your Traco SuperSealer back up into “like new” operation. We offer a basic kit and a complete kit. Here is what the two kits include:

Basic Kit Includes:

  • Two pieces of 3-mil Teflon tape
  • One piece of 10-mil Teflon tape
  • One Nichrome wire with connectors

Complete Kit Includes:

  • One silicone rubber pad
  • Five 3-mil pieces of Teflon tape
  • Three 10-mil pieces of Teflon tape
  • One Nichrome wire with connectors
  • One micro switch
  • One arm spring and anchor
  • One fuse

Here are some diagrams that show the bottom part of the sealer and the sealing arm (Figures 1 & 2). Please reference these diagrams as I go over how to change the tape and wire.

Traco Replacmeent Parts Kit Diagram

Replacing Worn Teflon Tape

Step 1. First remove the old tape from the surface of the silicone pad (base of the machine) as seen in Figure 1.

Step 2. Clean the silicone pad with a cloth and rubbing alcohol. Ensure the silicone is smooth and clean. This allows the new Teflon tape to stick.

Step 3. Take the 10 mil Teflon tape and apply it to the newly cleaned silicone pad  as seen in Figure 1.

Step 4. Now remove the tape from the flexboard found on the sealing arm as shown in Figure 2.

Step 5. Clean, scrape off and remove burnt residue and film. With the flexboard still attached, scrape down the debris using a damp washcloth. If the washcloth isn’t cleaning everything, you can use a fine grain sandpaper to finish the job. The flexboard needs to be smooth and clean so the new tape can properly stick.

Step 6. If you need to change the wire, continue to the below {Replacing Worn Wire) instructions. Whether you are using a new wire or the old wire, be sure to clean it with rubbing alcohol and a clean cloth. Once the wire is cleaned, you can apply a strip of 3-mil Teflon tape to the flexboard and over the wire as seen in Figure 2.

Replacing Worn Wire

Step 1. First loosen the screw found on the right side of the sealing bar. Once done, remove the black plastic end cape. This is found under the sealing bar. Now remove the insulator sleeve. Locate the bolt, sprint and nut and remove the assembly from the sealing bar by pulling down. You may need to use a flat head screwdriver to assist in removing this. Please reference Figure 2.

Step 2. Now you will loosen and remove the nut found on the bolt that runs through the insulator. This will allow you to release the upper end of the sealing wire.

Step 3. Find the access hole on the bottom of the base. Keep the arm held down and loosen the screw (don’t remove it). The screw only takes a couple of turns to loosen it. This should allow you to remove the old wire. You should now be able to attach a new sealing wire under the loosened screw and tighten it back down. Be sure the wire is properly aligned before tightening the screw.

Step 4. You can now attach the wire to the bolt on the front of the sealing bar. Place the ring terminal on the bolt and tighten the nut to the bolt. You can now slide the insulator back into the slot on the I-bar. Ensure the flat side is facing the arm. Tighten the first nut without over tightening (you don’t want to strip the threads). Ensure the wire is tight between the two nuts and adjust as needed.

If you are still having trouble replacing the tape, pad or wire, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-800-543-5454 x129. Our Service Department is knowledgable and highly skilled when it comes to all types of shrink wrap machines and heat sealers. They should be able to help you out. You can find our entire selection of shrink wrap replacement parts here and shrink wrap machines here.


Coil Binding Hole Pitches Explained

Posted by: James on December 6th, 2012

Coil Binding MachinesIf you are shopping for coil binding supplies (found here), or if you need a machine (found here), you have probably run across the term “pitch” being used on several sits. The pitch is the hole pattern the binding machine uses. This is usually labeled as holes per inch. So which pitch is the best and which should you use with your machine? Here are a few tips that may help you out.

First off, coil binding comes primarily in two different hole patterns. These are 4:1 pitch and 5:1 pitch (known as 5mm outside the US).  While there are other coil pitches (such as 3:1 and 2.5:1 aka 0.400 pitch), the 4:1 pitch and 5:1 pitch are most common.  In the United States, the 4:1 pitch is by far the most popular. Coil binding is by far one of the most customizable binding formats, making binding of small and large books extremely easy. At Office Zone, we offer binding coils in 12″ and 36″ lengths. These coils (found here) are made of PVC plastic and come in a wide assortment of colors.

  • 4:1 Pitch Coil Binding Hole Pattern4:1 Pitch (aka 0.250″ pitch) – This hole pattern consists of 4 holes punched per inch of paper. This ends up being roughly 43 to 44 holes along the 11″ side of a letter size 8 ½” x 11″ sheet of paper. Standard size 4:1 pitch coils come in 6mm up to 32mm diameters. The 32mm diameter coil can be used to bind up to 230 sheets of standard 20# bond paper.
  • 5:1 Pitch Coil Binding Hole Pattern5:1 Pitch (aka 5mm pitch) – This hole pattern is more common outside the US in Canada and Europe. It has a tighter hole pattern with 5 holes per inch of paper, resulting in about 54 to 55 holes along the 11″ edge of a sheet of paper. Because the holes are tighter together, this pattern cannot be used to bind books thicker than 152 sheets. Anything thicker would cause the pages to bind up and not turn easily.
  • Akiles Plus Coil Binding Hole PatternThe Plus Factor – A few years ago Akiles introduced their line of PLUS spiral coil binding machines.  Akiles deals primarily in 4:1 pitch coil, being that it accounts for 90% of the coil binding machines sold in the US. The PLUS line is a variation of a 4:1 pitch (0.248″ pitch). The biggest difference is that the holes are oval in shape instead of circular. Akiles says this helps make coil insertion and page turns easier. The verdict is still out on whether or not this really makes much difference.

At Office Zone we offer a wide range of coil binding machines. This includes models with a manual paper punch, an electric coil inserter and an electric punch. Major brands include Intelli-Bind, Akiles, Renz and Tamerica. If you have questions about binding machines, or the various hole pitches and patterns available, please feel free to call us at 1-800-543-5454. You can find our entire selection of coil binding machines here.


Do You Need a Cross Cut or Micro Cut Paper Shredder?

Posted by: James on December 5th, 2012

Cross Cut Paper ShreddersYou may have heard the term micro cut floating across the Web lately. It is a term that has been coined by many paper shredder manufacturers to describe their shredders that cut paper “even smaller” than other cross cut shredders. So what is all the hubbub about and do you really need a micro cut shredder or are you going to be just fine with a standard cross cut? I have a lot of experience with paper shredders (found here) and would like to share my thoughts on this topic.

The term cross cut is used to describe any shredder that cuts paper in a cross-hatch pattern. So is a micro cut still a cross cut? That is correct, a micro cut shredding pattern is still a cross cut, just on a smaller level. Today many people use cross cut to describe a Level 3 shredder and micro cut to describe a Level 4 shredder, but technically anything that is not a strip cut is a cross cut.

One reason many manufacturers are trying to push “micro cut” is because it is a way to get you to upgrade from your “old” shredder to a newer model with better technology. The thing many businesses and individuals don’t realize is that a micro cut isn’t for everyone. Here is the biggest difference between a Level 3 cross cut and a Level 4 micro cut:


  • Level 3 Cross Cut – This cut falls within a 3.9mm x 50mm range. This is very small and very difficult to piece back together.

  • Level 4 Micro Cut – This cut pattern falls within a 1.9mm x 15mm range. This is one of the smallest cutting patterns used by non-government / military organizations.

You can read more about the various cutting patterns and security levels by reading our Paper Shredder Guide here.

Both cutting patterns are FACTA and HIPAA compliant and are appropriate for shredding patient, customer and client data. So do you really need a micro cut pattern? I would say that most businesses will be fine with a Level 3 cross cut pattern. While the Level 3 pattern is a little bigger than Level 4, it is still small enough to provide enough security for most applications. If you feel the need for a little more security, there isn’t anything wrong with a Level 4 pattern.

So if you are buying a new shredder, there are a few things you will want to consider. The Level 3 pattern has less area to cut than a Level 4 pattern, which means you will have a decreased shredding capacity with a Level 4. A Level 3 shredder that can handle 10 sheets at a time will usually be about 6 sheets at a time with a Level 4. You will simply need to weigh in if you need the added security or the increased cutting capacity.

If you still have questions, concerns or need answers about cross cut and micro cut shredders, please feel free to call us at 1-800-543-5454. We have a lot of experience with paper shredders and should be able to help point you in the right direction. You can find our entire selection of paper shredders here.