Binding a book is a fulfilling task and the end results look great. If you are shopping for a book binding machine, you have probably found that there are a LOT of different designs, binding formats and machines (found here) available. So if you are trying to bind your own book, whether it is on a personal or professional level, which machine should you use? I would like to cover the most popular binding formats and will include videos so you can see exactly what is involved when binding with coil, comb and wire.
Comb, wire and coil binding are the three most popular binding formats used today. Sure there are other formats out there such as ProClick and VeloBind, but they pale in comparison to the big three when it comes to popularity and availability of supplies. You will find comb, wire and coil in use in schools, copy shops and businesses around the world. These binding formats are commonly used to bind sheets of paper together, ranging from a few to a few hundred in thickness.
I would like to explain the characteristics of each of these three binding formats:
Comb Binding (found here) – Comb binding has been around the longest of the three. The comb binding element is made of plastic and features 19 “fingers” that can be opened and closed for adding or removing paper. Comb binding machines punch 19 holes along the 11″ side of a sheet of letter-size paper. The comb’s fingers are inserted through those holes to help keep the paper bound and together. Combs range in thickness from 3/16″ diameter up to 2″. The comb supplies are available in several colors.
- Pros – Comb is by far the least expensive of the three binding formats covered in this article. This is one of the reasons comb binding is one of the most popular formats used today. As of this article, a box of 100 3/16″ diameter combs is just shy of $4. Comb binding supplies also allow the operator to add or remove pages. Comb binding has a small learning curve and can be used to bind small presentations to full-blown manuals. Comb binding also provides a lot of stability to the bound book.
- Cons – Combs, when opened and closed multiple times, will eventually begin to wear out. On thicker books this can result in the comb’s fingers becoming week and books loosing pages. Many people thing comb binding looks “cheap,” although that is debatable. Comb binding does not allow pages to be turned around a full 360 degrees.
Here is a comb binding video that will show you in detail exactly what is involved in the binding process:
Wire Binding (found here) – Wire binding uses actual metal wire to bind books. The wire binding element itself is made from a single long wire that is formed into a twin-loop wire appearance. The amount of loops in a twin-loop bound document depends on the hole pattern being used. Wire binding is available in three different hole pattern. These hole patterns are 19-ring (same pattern as comb binding), 3:1 pitch (three holes per inch) and 2:1 pitch (two holes per inch). The hole pattern does change the look of the bound document. The 3:1 pitch has the holes closer together where 2:1 has the holes farther apart. Be aware that the hole pattern cannot be modified on a machine. Once you have selected a machine with a specific hole pattern, you will need to make sure you buy correctly corresponding supplies.
- Pros – Wire binding is very popular with businesses for binding reports and presentations. Wire binding is considered to be the most professional-looking supply. The wire elements themselves are available in several different colors.
- Cons – The biggest con of wire binding is that the spines are made of wire and are susceptible to being bent out of shape if dropped or stacked upon. Another con is that pages cannot be added or removed.
Here is a wire binding video that will show you in detail exactly what is involved in the binding process:
Coil Binding (found here) – Coil binding has been gaining a lot of popularity over the years. Coil binding, often called spiral binding, is patterned after the old wire coils used in spiral notebooks. Modern coil binding is made using durable PVC plastic. This allows the coils to maintain their shape and makes them available in a wide assortment of colors. This binding format is very popular for several reasons I will cover under the “Pros” section of this article. Coil binding is available in two different hole patterns. These are 4:1 pitch (four holes per inch) and 5:1 pitch (five holes per inch). The 4:1 pitch is by far the most popular.
- Pros – Coil binding is the most durable binding format of the three mentioned in this article. The coils can withstand a lot of abuse. Coil binding makes page turns very easy and due to the nature of the coils, the pages can actually be turned a full 360 degrees. Coil bound books also lay extremely flat for easy reading. Coil binding happens to be my personal favorite binding format.
- Cons – The only real disadvantage to coil is that pages cannot be added or removed. If you want to add pages, you have to remove the coil and insert a new coil. Coil binding also provides little stability to the bound book, where comb does.
Here is a coil binding video that will show you in detail exactly what is involved in the binding process:
In conclusion, I have to say that all three binding formats have their place. I recommend comb for schools and home projects, wire for businesses and coil for just about anyone. Having used dozens of machines myself, I have to say that my personal favorite brands include Akiles, Intelli-Bind, Tamerica and Renz. While I have used Fellowes and GBC machines, I don’t feel the quality is up to par with what I like.
You can find our entire selection of book binding machines here. If you still have questions about binding machines, please feel free to give us a call at 1-800-543-5454. We have decades of experience with machines and are more than happy to help answer questions.