Paper Folding MachinesPaper folding machines (found here) are used by thousands of businesses to quickly fold letters, invoices, bills and other paperwork. These useful machines come in several different designs, depending on what is being folded. Regardless of the machine you purchase, it will use one of two feeding mechanisms; these being friction feed (found here) and air feed (found here). I would like to cover the two feeding methods and help you determine which is best for you.

I have personally used both feeding systems. They are both very easy to set up and are both easy to use. Friction feed is by far the most common you will find in use, but air feed still play a critical role with printing presses, printers and others who fold a lot of paper. Here is a basic definition of what each feeding system does:

Friction Feed – Friction feed paper folding machines use rubber wheels to pull paper into the machine for folding. The friction of the rubber wheel against the surface of the paper is what actually causes the paper to be pulled in. These wheels are usually centered on the middle of the paper. Friction wheels can range from one to three, depending on the design of the paper folding machine.

Because friction is the primary source of pulling the paper into the machine, these machines are not ideal for use with slick, glossy or coated paper. This is because the friction wheel will slip on the paper, much like a car tire on snow. This can result in a misfeed or a bad paper jam. If you would still like a friction-feed machine, and you are using coated paper, I recommend you send in a sample for testing.

Air Feed – Air feed machines use a pneumatic suction system to pull paper in for folding. As the air suction feeding system grabs the paper, it quickly pulls it in for folding. The air suction system used easily grabs standard, glossy, coated or slick paper. This makes air feed paper folding machines universally compatible with just about any paper surface. These machines are typically used for high-end industrial or commercial folding use or in businesses that need to fold thousands of pieces of mail per day. Most air-feed machines include their own pneumatic system and do not require the use of a separate air compressor.


Can a friction feed machine ever be used with glossy paper? Most friction feed machines do not handle slick or glossy paper well. For this reason, I generally recommend customers use an air-feed machine. Some of our manufacturers do have friction machines that can be used with some types of coated paper, but I recommend testing samples prior to purchasing a machine.

If air-feed machines are compatible with so many different types of paper, why aren’t all folding machines air feed? There are a few reasons for this. To begin with, air-feed machines are larger due to the technology used. This means they are not ideal for desktop use. They also cost more to buy and they typically generate more noise than a standard friction feed machine.

Which technology is better for folding invoices? A lot of it depends on the type of paper being used and how many sheets of paper you are folding per day. Friction feed machines are good for folding hundreds to thousands of sheets per day (depending on the model), where air feed machines are ideal for thousands to tens of thousands a day.

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to give us a call at 1-800-543-5454. We have years of experience with these machines and would be more than happy to help answer your questions. You can find our entire selection of paper folding machines here. Thank you for reading.

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