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Which Type of Binding Machine is Best for You?

Posted by: Office Zone on March 27th, 2013

Book Binding MachinesBinding 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 SuplliesComb 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 SuppliesWire 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 SuppliesCoil 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.




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Replacement Paper Shredder Bags

Posted by: Office Zone on March 20th, 2013

Paper Shredder BagsIf you own a high-end paper shredder for your office, chances are you are using clear plastic shredder  bags (found here). These bags provide a clean and effective way to empty the shredder, making way for additional shredding. There are a lot of reasons why people use shredder bags. If you own an office paper shredder, you may want to consider browsing Office Zone’s huge selection of bulk shredder bags.

At Office Zone, we offer shredder bags for the following brands:

The above-mentioned shredder bags are specifically designed to be used with your model of shredder. Using the correct size, versus a generic bag, ensures proper shredder operation. This helps shred particles, pieces of paper and other waste from getting into the mechanical components of the shredder.

Using the correct bag size helps to cut down on bag changes. This is because the correct bag size fills the shredders bin or cabinet correctly, ensuring you get the total amount of gallons of shredded paper promised by the manufacturer. Using a bag that is too small will cut down on capacity and using a bag that is too big will cause valuable space to be filled by excess bag.

The bags we sell are all OEM. This means quality. Our paper shredder bags are made for the shredder by the manufacturer and use heavy-gauge plastic. This ensures fewer bag tears and added durability. We also sell these bags in bulk boxes, ensuring a lower price per bag for you.

We are an authorized dealer for Destroyit, HSM, Fellowes, Intimus, Rexel, Kobra, GBC, Formax and Dahle. If you don’t see the shredder bags for your model of shredder, give us call at 1-800-543-5454. We can more than likely track down the correct bags for your shredder and provide them to you at a guaranteed low price.

At Office Zone, we have over a decade of experience with paper shredders. We are not only able to provide you with replacement bags, but we can also help you track down replacement parts, additional shredders, accessories, shredder oil and much more. You can find our entire selection of paper shredders, supplies and accessories here.

Please feel free to post any feedback, thoughts or additional advice on this article in the form of a comment. Thank you for reading!




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What is the Best Laminating Film for a Poster?

Posted by: Office Zone on March 13th, 2013

Roll Lamination FilmIf you have a roll laminator and are going to be laminating posters, you may be wondering what type of film is best for your project. At Office Zone, we offer a huge selection of roll lamination film (found here) and would like to provide you with a few tips on laminating posters. I will cover a few questions you may want to ask yourself and will highlight a few points that should help you make the best selection possible.

When I refer to posters, I am talking about your traditional movie posters, educational posters, large signs and many banners. Lamination film is used on all of these types of printed material for various reasons. Most people laminate them to help bring out the colors, protect the posters’ surface and to protect them from the elements. Before I talk about the best film for your poster, I would like to cover the different types of film. Understanding laminating semantics and terms will help you in making your decision.

These are four terms I recommend you  become familiar with when shopping for roll lamination film:

  • Mil – The mil thickness is the how thick the film is. This is very similar to the gauge often used to measure the thickness of plastic. One mil equals 0.001″, which also happens to be 100 gauge. The higher the mil thickness, the thicker the film. Roll lamination film is usually available in 1.5, 3, 5, 7 and 10 mil thicknesses.
  • Width – All roll laminators have a maximum width of film they can use. The most popular poster laminators are in 25″ and 27″ widths. If you own a 27″ wide laminator, you can use widths from 27″ on down, including 12″ wide rolls of film.
  • Core Size – Roll laminators have mandrels, usually made of metal, that are used to hold and support the rolls of film. These mandrels come in different sizes. Most 25″ and 27″ laminators use mandrels with a 1″ diameter, which subsequently are compatible with lamination rolls that feature a 1″ core. Wider format laminators often have mandrels of 2 ¼” or 3″ diameters.
  • Finish – The most popular roll lamination film we offer has a glossy finish. It reflects light and brings out color. Some people, however, don’t like the shiny look of glossy film. In those situations, I often require a matte film instead. Matte film has a dull luster, but is still clear. Another type of finish people often like is a UV filter for outdoor use. UV film filters out UV rays that can cause printed materials and posters to fade.

Having sold a lot of film and having laminated a lot of posters, I personally recommend you use a film with a glossy finish. As far as the thickness of the film is concerned, I recommend a 1.5 or 3 mil thickness. You can use thicker film, but for the purpose of laminating posters the thinner film is usually more than adequate. All of the film we offer, as long as there is a sealed border around the edge, should be water resistant. A 1.5 mil or 3 mil finish should also be enough to provide adequate protection while still bringing out the colors.

You can find our entire selection of glossy roll lamination film with a 1″ core by visiting us here. You can also find our entire selection of roll laminators by visiting us here. If you still have questions, please give us a call at 1-800-543-5454. Thank you for reading this article!




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Affordable Alternatives to Minipack Shrink Wrap Machines

Posted by: Office Zone on February 28th, 2013

Minipack Shrink Wrap MachinesIf you are a fan of Minpack-Torre shrink wrap machines, you have probably noticed that a lot of their more affordable machines seem to be disappearing. About a year ago the Minipack Galileo (very popular) was discontinued and just a month ago the highly popular Minipack Galaxy was discontinued. While the replacement machine, the Minipack FM760 (found here), is a solid machine, it is a lot more money than their other discontinued model and it is a 220 volt machine. So what should you do? Is there a comparable model to Minipack that provides similar quality and ease-of-use? Yes there is, and I would like to cover a few of those machines in this article.

If you were to ask me what other manufacturers out there compare in quality to Minipack, I would have to say Truline and Strategic Group are right up there. There are three models in particular I would like to mention. These are the:

First, I would like to show you the sealing dimensions for the Galaxy and Galileo so you have a reference point on the size of the machine:

  • Minipack Galaxy Sealing Dimensions: 17.5″ x 14″ x 8″
  • Minipack Galileo Sealing Dimensions: 21″ x 17″ x 8″

Now here are the alternative machines’ dimensions:

  • Truline TP-48ST Sealing Dimensions: 18.5″ x 12″ x 6″
  • Truline TP-76ST Sealing Dimensions 22″ x 16″ x 8″
  • Compack 5800 Sealing Dimensions: 22″ x 18″ x 10″

The Truline TP48ST is the smallest of the three, but is also the most affordable. It is very similar in size and functionality to the Galaxy, but with a slightly smaller sealing length and height. The nice thing about the TP-48ST is that it operates on a 110 volt power supply like the Galaxy, which is now the only shrink wrap system we offer with a 110 volt power supply. This machine is perfect for those looking to get started with a shrink wrap system with integrated heat chamber.

The Truline TP-76ST and Compack 5800 are more in line with the Minpack Galileo as far as dimensions are concerned. They are also both 220 volt machines. The Compack 5800 has the largest sealing dimensions of the three and has been around for years with a proven track record. The Compack 5800 is also extremely affordable considering what you get.

As is the case with the Minipack machines, these three alternative shrink wrap machines all feature a film roll holder, a magnetic hold down, an integrated heat chamber and an impulse L-bar sealer. The can also all be used with both PVC and polyolefin film. The quality, in my personal opinion, is right up there with Minipack.

If you are looking for a Minipack alternative, or simply have some questions regarding the above-mentioned models, please feel free to give us a call at 1-800-543-5454. You can find our entire selection of shrink wrap systems here. Thank you so much for reading our article. Please feel free to post your comments.




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Friction Feed or Air Feed Paper Folding Machine?

Posted by: Office Zone on January 30th, 2013

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.

COMMON QUESTIONS

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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David-Link Biometric Time Clocks – A No-Brainer For Businesses

Posted by: Office Zone on January 24th, 2013

David-Link Biometric Time ClocksIf you need a time clock for your new business, need to replace a broken time clock or are simply looking to upgrade, you need to seriously consider using a David-Link biometric time clock (found here). Having used these time clocks myself, and considering the extremely low price point, I recommend these for just about any size business. Here are just a few reasons why you should consider buying one.

Here are just a few reasons why I highly recommend David-Link time clocks:

Price – When I say these time clocks are affordable, I’m not kidding. You simply are not going to find a comparable model with the same features for the same price. Keep in mind that all versions of the W-988 and W-1288 are equipped with biometric and pin technology. They all include software and they all make it possible to run reports and easily view data on hours worked.

Biometrics – Biometric technology, when implemented correctly, is one of the best features to have in a time clock. It stops buddy punching dead in its track. You literally have to be present to sign in and out of work. This also means you don’t have to worry about illegible time sheets, fraud, lost time badges and other quirks that make time clocks such a pain.

Unlike other biometric time clocks that require you to slide your finger and are plagued by temperature issues, the David-Link time clocks require that you simply touch the scanner. I have used PTI biometric time clocks that required me to slide my finger multiple times in order to work. I have thoroughly tested these time clocks and it reads my finger the first time, ever time.

Proximity Capabilities – The “P” versions of the David-Link time clocks also include the ability to read proximity cards. The “P” versions (W-988P / W-1288P) come with 10 proximity cards in the box, but additional cards may be ordered. If you don’t like biometrics, buy a “P” version and use it for its proximity card reading capabilities.

Huge Database Support – All of these time clocks have the ability to store up to 3,000 fingerprints and they can all hold up to 50,000 log records.

David-Link DLTMS Software – The software included with these time clocks allows you to run a variety of different reports and will even allow you to export the data into an Excel spreadsheet that can then be imported into many payroll programs such as Quickbooks.

USB & Network Integration – All versions of the David-Link time clocks come with a USB flash drive that can be used to download data to later be used with the David Link DLTMS software on a computer. All of these can also be directly connected to a computer with a USB cable and all can be wired into the local area network (LAN) via an Ethernet cable.

This diagram illustrates the connectivity capabilities of these time clocks:

David-Link Network & USB Capabilities

Remote Access – The W-1288PB has the ability to be accessed remotely over the Internet via another computer / laptop that is running the David Link DLTMS software. This is a huge plus as there is no monthly fee required to do this.

Included in the Box: These time clocks include the software, the biometric time recorder itself, a USB drive, a USB capable, a power adapter and include free tech support.

So what is the difference between all the versions of the David-Link time clocks? To begin with, the W-988 and W-1288 models are functionally the same. The only difference is the W-988 models have a monochrome white backlit screen, where the W-1288 use a full color TFT LCD with a more user friendly menu for navigation purposes. If the model is followed by a P, it has proximity card reading capabilities. If it is followed by a PB, it has proximity card reading and a battery backup. There you go! Here is a visual representation of the differences that may help better highlight what they can do:

Fingerprint
Identification
Additional RFID
Card Identification
Backup
Battery
LCD
Display Type
Port Forwarding for
Remote Access of
Attendance Reports
W-988 N/A N/A White Backlight N/A
W-988P N/A White Backlight N/A
W-988PB White Backlight N/A
W-1288 N/A N/A TFT LCD with more
user friendly menu
navigation
N/A
W-1288P N/A TFT LCD with more
user friendly menu
navigation
N/A
W-1288PB TFT LCD with more
user friendly menu
navigation

In conclusion, I just have to say that I highly recommend these time clocks. They really are a great value and the quality is very nice. If you have additional questions about these time clocks and the software they use, please give us a call at 1-800-543-5454. One of our Time Clock Specialists should be able to help you out. Have you used a David-Link time clock? Post your experience here as a comment! You can find our entire selection of employee time clocks here.




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Four of Our Best Foot Sealers for Sealing Bags

Posted by: Office Zone on January 22nd, 2013

Constant Heat Foot SealersIf you’re sealing a lot of bags for packaging purposes, and are in need of a good quality bag sealer (found here), there are several that we offer that may be a good option for your business. If you package a lot of products per day, and would like to have the freedom of a hands-free machine, you may want to consider using a foot-operated heat sealer. Foot operated bag sealers are affordable and help free up an extra hand for precision sealing. I would like to introduce you to a few different models.

Bag sealers, often referred to as heat sealers, come in a few different flavors. The two most common are constant heat and impulse. Constant heat sealers are always hot and generally cost a little less than impulse sealers. They still do a great job, but the operator has to be careful of the hot heating element. Impulse sealers only produce heat and seal the bag when needed. This makes them a little safer and a little more energy efficient. We offer foot sealers in both varieties.

Our two main manufacturers of these units are AIE (American International Electric) and SealerSales. Both are solid brands and their products have received well by our customers. Here are the four different foot sealer lines I would like you to consider for your business operations:

  1. KF-150CSTP 6" Foot SealerSealerSales KF-150CSTP (found here) – These guys came up with a very clever kit that combines their KF-150 hand sealer with a clamp and a weighted foot pedal connected with a chain. It allows you to mount the KF-150 to the side of a desk, table or bench. This foot sealer is pretty slick and very intuitive. This is a constant heat foot sealer, which means you will need to wait 5 to 15 minutes for it to fully warm up. The price isn’t bad either for a 6″ heat sealer.
  2. AIE FI Series Impulse Foot Sealer (found here) – This is a full blown foot sealer that includes a stand and the works. The FI sealers come in different sealing lengths ranging from 12″ up to 24″. They also come in different sealing widths, ranging from 2mm up to 5mm. These sealers are excellent for daily continuous use and are made from metal components for added durability.
  3. AIE CH Series Constant Heat Foot Sealers (found here) – These foot sealers uses constant heat to seal bags such as polycello, cellophane, aluminum foil, polyethylene and gusset bags. Using heated clamping jaws, the CH sealers quickly seal the open ends of bags shut. These sealers create a 5/8″ wide mesh patterned seal that is extremely resilient and long lasting. These sealers, depending on the model, range in sealing length from 8″ up to 24″. Using a hands-free design, the operator can easily insert the open end of a bag, press the foot pedal and quickly seal the bag shut.
  4. AIE FD Double Impulse ColdAIE FD Series Double Impulse Bag Sealers (found here) – If you like the convenience of an impulse sealer, but need something durable that can handle film up to 20 mils thick, you may want to consider the AIE FD impulse sealers. These sealers use two (top & bottom) impulse sealers to quickly seal gusset bags and other plastic materials shut. You can buy the FD foot sealers in 12″, 18″ and 24″ sealing lengths. These sealers include the stand, the sealer and the foot pedal. Each of these machines produce a thick 5mm seal, which holds up well for packaging purposes.

Regardless of the type of bags you are sealing, one of these convenient foot sealers should get the job done quickly and professionally. If you aren’t seeing what you need, or if you have additional questions about one of these foot sealers, please call us at 1-800-543-5454. We would love to help you out. If you already own one of these, please share your experience with us as a comment.




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Coil Binding Machines With Coil Crimping Pliers

Posted by: Office Zone on January 21st, 2013

Coil Binding Machines w/ Coil Crimping PliersCoil binding, in my opinion, is one of the best looking book binding formats around. Supplies are affordable, colors are diverse and the format is extremely durable. One critical part of the coil binding process is the coil-crimping pliers (found here). The only problem is that many models don’t include these pliers, meaning you have to purchase the pliers separately. So which coil binding machines include the coil-crimping pliers? I would like to provide you with a list.

So what are coil-crimping pliers? These are used to cut off excess coil and crimp the ends off to prevent the coil from spinning back out of the holes. These pliers look a lot like needle nose pliers. The benefit of coil crimping pliers, versus needle nose pliers, is that they cut and crimp the coil in a single pass. Once you figure out how they work, the pliers are actually very fast and effective.

So which brands and models include the pliers? I have found that pretty much all Akiles and all Intelli-Bind coil binding machines include the pliers. Here is a list of the models that do:

Manual Coil Binding Machines

  • Intelli-Bind IC210A (found here) – This is one of the least expensive coil binding machines on the market. It is basically a coil binding paper punch. Coils are manually inserted.
  • Intelli-Bind IC110 (found here) – This is one of the least expensive coil binding machines that includes an electric coil inserter. It is excellent for a home or small office.
  • Akiles Rubicoil Spiral Binder (found here) – This is a coil binding punch, which means it will punch the holes for your coil bound book but the supplies need to be manually spun through by hand.
  • Intelli-Bind IC210 (found here) – This is essentially the same machine as the IC210A, but includes an electric coil inserter. This helps speed up the binding process by quickly spinning coils through the punched holes. This is one of our most popular models.
  • Akiles iCoil 41 (found here) – This compact coil binding station is one of the newest models released by Akiles. It folds up and is very easy to store in a cabinet. It includes the punch, pliers, a small inserter and a foot pedal.
  • Akiles CoilMac-M (found here) – This coil binding punch features the quality Akiles is known for along with 5 disengageable punching pins. This model does not include an electric inserter.
  • Akiles iCoil 41+ (found here) – This machine is the same as the regular Akiles iCoil, but includes the Plus hole pattern. This is essentially an oval-size hole versus a circular hole. According to Akiles this makes the coils easier to insert and pages easier to turn.
  • Akiles Coilmac-M Plus (found here) – This is a coil punch that features the Plus oval-shaped hole pattern as well as 54 disengagable punching pins. It is a solid machine, but does not include an electric inserter.
  • Intelli-Bind IC310 (found here) – This is one of our best selling coil binding machines. It is popular because it includes a full width inserter, selectable punching pins, includes pliers and features a metal body design.
  • Intelli-Bind IC410 (found here) – This tough machine includes a nice leveraged punching handle, six selectable punching pins and a nice wide electric inserter. This machine features a durable metal body and is extremely sturdy.
  • Akiles CoilMac ER (found here) – This is the first of several Akiles machines that feature the metal body and an electric inserter. It features 5 disengaging dies as well as a compact coil inserter found on the top left of the machine.
  • Akiles CoilMac-ER Plus (found here) – This is the same machine as the standard ER, but includes the Plus oval punching dies and includes 54 selectable punching pins.
  • Akiles CoilMac-ECI (found here) – This is one of the most robust Akiles machines we offer that features a manual punch. It is made out of durable metal components and features a full width electric inserter.
  • Akiles CoilMac-ECI Plus (found here) – As is the case with the other “Plus” machines, this is an upgraded version of the standard ECI, which includes the oval-shaped punching pins and features 54 selectable punching pins.

Electric Coil Binding Machines

  • Intelli-Bind IC21E (found here) – This is by far the most cost effective coil binding machine that features an electric punch. On top of that, it also includes coil crimping pliers, an electric inserter and  46 disengageable punching pins.
  • Akiles CoilMac-EPI (found here) – Having used this machine myself, I can say that this is a beast of a binding machine. It is tough, easy to use and the electric motor really packs a punch. It also includes five selectable punching pins and a full width electric inserter. This is made to last for years.
  • Akiles CoilMac-EPI Plus (found here) – This is the Cadilac of coil binding machines. It is well built, looks nice and is excellent for high-volume coil binding. It features the oval-shaped Plus hole pattern and includes 54 fully disengageable punching pins.

When you take into account that coil crimping pliers can cost anywhere between $30 and $70, having them included with the machine is actually a huge value. If you have questions about any of these machines, please feel free to give us a call at 1-800-543-5454. Do you own one of these machines? Please post your feedback and experiences here as a comment. Thank you for reading!




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Featuers To Look For In A Pouch Laminator

Posted by: Office Zone on January 18th, 2013

Pouch LaminatorsAt Office Zone, we sell several different models of pouch laminators (found here). Some are designed for entry level use where others are ideal for commercial-level applications. So how do you know what kind of laminator you need and what features should you look for in a good laminator? I have over a decade of experience using laminators and would like to share a few features I would look for if I were shopping for a pouch laminator.

Keep in mind, these aren’t all going to be features you need in a laminator. If you need a laminator simply for home crafts and projects, many of these features won’t be necessary. If you are a business, however, and need to laminate a lot of stuff, many of these features will be critical.

  • Ample Width – One of the most important things to consider when buying a laminator is the maximum laminating width. I will just say you don’t want to get close to the maximum capacity on your laminator. I have spoken with many people who purchased an 11″ laminator to be used with an 11″ pouch. While technically (and on paper) it is possible, you are going to have so little clearance on the sides that you will have to feed the pouch in perfectly to avoid jamming issues. Be sure you have at least ¼” clearance on each side of the pouch.
  • Mil Capabilities – I like having the ability to laminate film up to 10 mils thick. If you are a business, you probably will too. If you’re a home user, something up to 5 mils will probably be sufficient. Just be sure you are aware of the mil thickness capabilities of the laminator before you purchase it. A laminator with a 5 mil capacity won’t be able to properly heat up and seal a 10 mil pouch.
  • Reverse Capabilities – I love having a reverse switch on my laminator. If you see the pouch is beginning to veer off course, it is very nice to be able to throw that laminator into reverse and back the pouch out before a catastrophic jam occurs. Without that reverse switch, you will end up having to shut the laminator off and open it up to remove the poorly fed pouch.
  • Independent Motor & Heat – If you use your laminator a lot, and want to prevent premature motor wear, you really need to have separate switches for the motor and the heat. This way you can keep the laminator warmed up and ready to go, but without the motor running. Many laminators hook up the heat and motor to the same switch.
  • Adjustable Temperature – Having the ability to adjust the temperature gives you the ability to use a wide variety of pouches and glue types. This flexibility is especially nice for people laminating temperature sensitive items or using low-melt film. It also helps you to dial in the best settings for the mil thickness you are using. Remember, not all brands of film are made equal.
  • Temperature Shielding – Laminators get hot, very hot. They literally house heating elements that reach temperatures you might find on an oven range. For that reason, be sure you get a laminator that properly shields you from the heat. Most manufacturers do a good job of this, but you don’t want a laminator that is hot to the touch at peak temperature.
  • Carrier Capabilities – I will be honest, I don’t care if the laminator says it does not need carriers. I use a carrier anyway unless the manufacturer specifically states you should not. Carriers prolong the life of your laminator, period. For that reason, I don’t personally care if the laminator does or does not require a carrier. I would almost prefer that it does require it.

I hope these comments and suggestions help you in your pursuit of a high-quality laminator. If you are in search of a good brand, I can say that I am very impressed with Laminators Specialties (formerly Banner American) and Akiles. Tamerica and Intelli-Lam also make some nice higher-end laminators. Please give us a call at 1-800-543-5454 with any questions. We would love to help you out. If you have some additional feedback or advice regarding shopping for a pouch laminator, please leave it here in a comment. I would love to hear from you.




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How Does A Paper Folding Machine Work?

Posted by: Office Zone on January 15th, 2013

Folding paper by hand takes hours and the end results usually leaves a lot to be desired. This is where a paper folding machine (found here) finds its stride. These machines have literally been designed from the ground up to take paper and fold it quickly and professionally without any flaws. So how exactly does a paper folding machine work? I would like to discus this in this article.

If you were to tear open a standard paper folding machine, you would actually be very surprised just how simple they are on the inside. Manual setup friction-feed paper folding machines essentially consist of two folding plates, a couple of rubber rollers, a motor and some friction feeding wheels. Here is a picture of the inside of a paper folding machine:

Inside Paper Folding Machine

 

Before I go into the technical details on how a paper folding machine works, I would like to describe how to set it up prior to use.

  1. First you will want to adjust the two folding plates to accommodate the fold you wan to create. Most paper folding machines are capable of folding the paper in to different points. The fold you select will depend on the sheet size and type of fold you want to create.
  2. Second you will want to put the paper in the feed tray and ensure the side guides are properly aligned. You generally want the friction rollers centered on the middle of the paper as closely as you can.
  3. If your machine is equipped with a stacker wheel and a powered exit conveyor, ensure the stacker wheel is adjusted to accommodate the paper size you are folding.
  4. Finally you will want to turn the machine on and begin folding. If the folds don’t look right or are crooked, turn off the machine and make adjustments.

I would now like to describe the step-by-step process involved in folding a sheet of paper.

  1. The machine first pulls in a sheet of paper using friction wheels on the feed tray.
  2. As the paper is pulled into the machine, it is pulled and pushed into the first folding plate. The paper bounces off that plate and makes its way to the second folding plate.
  3. As it bounces off the plates, it is forced between rubber rollers that fold the paper. The location where the rubber rollers grasp and fold the paper depends on the clearance in the folding plates.
  4. Once the paper has bounced off the plates and made its way through the rubber rollers, it will come out the exit tray.

Here is a video of a paper folding machine in use:

Now that we have discussed how a paper folding machine is set up and how it is used, I would like to cover some common paper folding issues. The most common issues are usually very easy to resolve. Here are some of the most common I hear from customers:

Paper not Feeding Properly:

  • A lot of this depends on the type of feeding system your paper folder uses. If you have to pre-fan the paper, you may simply need to adjust the retarder wheel. This is basically the amount of clearance the machine uses to pull in a sheet of paper.
  • If the machine uses a simple drop-in feed system, you may need to clean the rubber friction rollers that pull in the paper. If they get coated in paper dust, they can begin to slip on the paper.
  • If you are using glossy or coated paper, you may have to upgrade to an air-feed paper folding machine. Friction rollers don’t handle slick, glossy or coated paper well.

Folds Crooked:

  • This is often the result of the paper guides not being properly aligned. Look at the paper guides on the feed tray and make sure they are straight. Make necessary adjustments.
  • You may have the fold plates adjusted and locked down crooked. Make sure the bar on the fold plate is straight and aligned correctly.
  • If your machine is equipped with a skew wheel, try adjusting it and test a few folds to see if this corrects the problem.

Machine Keeps Jamming:

  • This can be a result of a lot of things. I have found the most common issue resulting in paper jams is either dirty rubber rollers or static electricity. If the rollers are dirty, try opening up the folding machine and clean the rollers using roller cleaner (found here). If it is static electricity, the static charge may be causing sheets of paper to stick together. Use static eliminator spray (found here) or a paper jogger (found here) to get rid of the static electricity.

Hopefully these tips and the above information has helped educate you and has helped you make an educated decision on purchasing a paper folding machine. There are a lot of paper folding machines and several different styles available, so please feel free to call us at 1-800-543-5454 with any questions. We are also more than happy to pre-test your paper samples on our machines prior to you making a purchase to ensure the machine works properly. Thank you for reading and please post comments regarding your own paper folding machine experiences. Have a great day!