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Turn Unprofitable Bindery Work Into Profit-Making Winners

  
  
  

One of the best and most expensive lessons I ever learned was taught to me by an unprofitable saddle stitching job. I was reminded of it, and of the unchanging nature of humans, as I read a short article in a printing trade publication. It was written exactly one hundred years ago in 1914 yet it’s still timely. First the article, and then the story of a good idea gone bad.

profit loss table bindery“The unprofitable job is at least twice as important as the profitable job. It will pay you well to ponder that deeply. Suppose a man gets four jobs of $100 each, and on one he loses $20, and on each of the other three turns a profit of $20. He might conclude that it is only one in four and does not matter much. He tries to forget it as soon as possible. However, in results it figures out as follows (table at right):

He has done $400 worth of business with a profit of $40, or 10 per cent. Suppose he cuts out the losing job; he would have done $300 worth of business, have a profit of $60, or 20 per cent--a DOUBLING of his percentage of profit.

But suppose a cost system helped him to get job No. 1 at a profit also, he would have $400 worth of business, a profit of $80, or 20 per cent. Attend to that unprofitable job and double your profit.

In this connection it might be well also to inquire closely concerning new work that seems to come your way. It may be someone else's “’most important job.’”

Of course the story is a simplification, yet it illustrates a truth about profit in business. Small changes in costs and production methods can change your overall profitability by a big margin. This is especially true if you can turn the losers—the most important job—into winners.

I had a taste of someone else’s “most important job” many years ago while running a small trade bindery. The caller, from a large web printing company, asked if I could do 500,000 stitched books to help them meet a deadline. It all sounded fantastic on paper and maybe even too good to be true, especially for me, a starving sole proprietor. Nevertheless, from the details I was given, the job should have been a piece of cake.

man throwing waste paperWhen the first tractor trailer load of signatures arrived, I immediately saw why they pawned the job off on me. In short, it was un-runnable. The signatures were curled every which way. The folding was as bad and inconsistent as you can imagine. The lip I needed to run the signatures came and went with each handful. It was the bindery job from hell.

I tried to return the job but they volunteered to send their mechanic to update my stitcher to run with vacuum. Not trusting my gut, I gave in to their request. After the upgrade, the only way I could get it to run, and poorly at that, was to have someone at each pocket hand-curling every miserable stack of signatures. The customer agreed, verbally, to pay for the additional labor. I agreed to continue running, thinking that at least I’d break even, and perhaps have a chance at some more of their overflow work and possibly some profit.

As you might have already guessed, they never paid for the several weeks’ worth of extra labor. But I don’t blame them even though they broke a promise. It isn’t possible to turn every money-losing job into a winner, not without renegotiating the terms of the deal. In hindsight, their verbal OK to change the deal should have been in writing. But if I trusted my gut to refuse it right from the start, I would have avoided the financial beating and the headache altogether.

In my experience there has always been a tendency to discount the importance of profitability in post-press and bindery work. This is more the case in larger commercial print shops that have a bindery operation, rather than in a trade bindery whose reason for being is bindery work. The idea for printers seems to be that “as long as I make money on the print job as a whole, I’m OK with break-even or losses in the bindery.”

As our 1914 writer says, you better “ponder that deeply.” A very small improvement in the bindery can have a disproportionately positive effect on profitability as a whole. Considering the complexity and number of variables involved in bindery work, the opportunities for profit enhancement are almost endless.


Have a story about your own “most important job?” Feel free to share below!




Bindery Equipment Troubleshooting – Using Mind Games to Succeed

  
  
  

A Bindery Success™ reader recently sent us a story that illustrates the sometimes amusing difficulties of troubleshooting bindery work. In this case they were saddle-stitching a book with a reply envelope inserted between the pages. Stitcher operators envelope stitcher chain400know it’s a bit of a tricky job. It’s a delicate operation getting the envelopes to feed accurately, to remain in position, and to remain in the book so as not to cause rejects. Yet once the feeder is set correctly it tends to run all day without problems.

Such was the case this particular day. Charlie, our reader, says the envelopes were running beautifully for about forty minutes.  Suddenly, for no apparent reason, they began dropping on the floor. Like most experienced operators, he began checking his own setup of the machine to make sure nothing had come loose, had broken, or had been set incorrectly.

Since the machine seemed to be set perfectly, he began inspecting the envelopes. Perhaps glue had fouled the envelopes, preventing them from opening properly. Perhaps the folding was starting to vary more than normal. I’m sure he probably also observed how the operator loading that feed pocket was doing her job.

After much troubleshooting and head-scratching time, Charlie realized that one of the helpers, feeling a bit warm, had turned on a fan and aimed it right at their legs. The resulting turbulence was preventing the envelopes from dropping properly on the chain. As soon as the fan was switched off, the delicate balance was restored and the stitcher continued to run beautifully!

The story shows how a single troubleshooting event can be simultaneously complex and simple. It’s simple because the solution involved the single act of turning off a switch or moving the fan. It’s complex because there are human beings involved with the operation of a machine.

Both machine and human had to go through the troubleshooting process. Yet the solution, I’d have to say, is “out there.” Think about it this way: if you were creating a thorough checklist for this specific type of saddle stitching operation, would you ever consider adding “Check that no fans are blowing on operator’s legs?”

Bindery equipment work can be very complex due to the number of variables involved with nearly every job. There are however, some popular rules of thumb and ways of thinking that help in our troubleshooting efforts.

We’ve talked about using the 80-20 Rule in our ebook How to Get the Most from Your Folding Machine Operators. In short, it means 80% of problems are the result of only 20% of possible causes. In other words, a few vital things, if not properly done, will cause the majority of problems that arise.

Of course we have the KISS rule: “Keep it simple stupid.” The KISS principle was first used by Kelly Johnson, an engineer with Lockheed. It’s important to note that his use of the phrase differs by a single comma from the popular "Keep it simple, stupid."

In other words, there was no reference to anyone being stupid. Quite the opposite. He was trying to inspire his team of engineers to design systems that seemed both “simple” and “stupid.” Their sophisticated jet fighters had to be repaired in the field, in combat conditions, by the average aircraft mechanic. Essentially he needed extraordinarily intelligent systems that could be taken as 'stupid' because of their simple design.

From the viewpoint of troubleshooting bindery equipment, the KISS rule might mean that we look first for the simpler solutions to a problem. Don’t rebuild the machine at the first sign of trouble. Look for the “fan”.

man gears head profile250Which brings us to another related way of thought called Occam’s Razor which states that “Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily.” In the realm of scientific thought it came to mean that if there are two or more explanations for the same prediction or hypothesis, the simpler one is preferred and more likely to be correct. You can see in our saddle-stitching example that this was certainly the case.

Although these concepts can save us a lot of time, there is one important thing we should not forget during our troubleshooting efforts. Humans are involved. We are as complex and unpredictable as it gets. That's why economics or social studies can never be true 'sciences', no matter how many PhD's are awarded. All it takes is one human being acting differently than predicted and a whole hypothesis is kaput.

Aristotle said that nature operates in the shortest way possible. If that is true, then one of the best things we can do to aid in troubleshooting is to let our minds remain open. Let our subconscious minds pick up some of the thinking for us. Certainly that’s what happened when Charlie had the “realization” about the fan. It wasn’t on his list of active things to troubleshoot, but his open mind meant it could pop to the surface. In a sense, nature did its work.

If you want to become a good bindery equipment operator, then keep an open mind. It might be just the thing that bails you out of a difficult problem.

Have a troubleshooting story you’d like to share? Give us the embarrassing details below!

How to Get the Most from Your Folding Machine Operators - Download Here -





Is Your Folding Machine Lying to You?

  
  
  

fold plate indicator300Fold plate indicators don’t always tell us the truth. Set one at any given length and then fold a sheet. You might get the dimension you want on the first sheet if you’re experienced on that folder. More likely you’ll have to adjust it once or twice.

This little quirk of folding machines isn’t significant when you’re folding simple parallel fold jobs. You just make an adjustment or two and you’re usually ready to run. But when you are folding signatures with perforations, or brochures with very heavy scores or creases, it can lead an inexperienced operator astray during troubleshooting efforts.

Perforations can roll over or fold crookedly, contributing to cross-over (line-up) problems in signatures. You might encounter intermittent dog ears, fiber cracking, wrinkling, or paper jams. In response to such scenarios I’ve seen many operators adjust fold roller pressures, skew the fold plate stop, or skew the side lay, only to find each adjustment worsens the problem.

There are two things you can do. One is to correct a faulty indicator so that when you set it, for instance, at 5”, it actually folds at 5”. In the spirit of lean manufacturing, this will reduce all future makeready times. It’s an excellent down-time project that will pay you back for a long time.

Yet even if the indicator is correct, it’s a good idea to confirm that your fold position is actually in the same position as your perf or score. Why? Because the actual setting of a fold plate stop can be up to ¼” or more away from the actual perf or score position. This discrepancy might not even be noticed and everything folds uneventfully. In the video below we demonstrate how far off you can be and still get a reasonably good fold.

However, the most likely result of having such a discrepancy will be the intermittent problems mentioned above. The operator thinks the folder is set correctly. After all, nearly all the sheets are folding on the score or perf, so the problem must be elsewhere. And that’s when the trouble begins.

Todd Summers , a foreman with Nittany Valley Offset and a regular contributor to the Bindery Success Blog, teaches new folder operators to “rough in” the folds associated with a perf or score. For example, when folding a 16-page right angle signature with a perfed head, most operators simultaneously set up the first fold and the perf at the head. Then they move to the right angle folds.

Instead, Summers recommends leaving the perf disengaged by simply moving the counter knife or perf blade out of the way. Then set the second fold, with no perf, as accurately as possible. This won’t be a perfect fold since we’re dealing with two sheets, but it will ensure that your indicated fold size is indeed correct. Once in position, engage your perforator, check its position, and then fold it.

The same holds true for running a right angle letter fold brochure with one fold in half and then two folds in the right angle to a letter fold style. Or for creasing in the parallel section and folding in the right angle. Leave the scores disengaged and rough in your right angle folds. Only then add the scores.

If you are doing more intricate multi-panel right angle folds, or if you are folding very heavy text paper or cover stocks, you can refine this technique for more precision than you get with a “roughing in” technique. We covered that here in a related article on accordion folding.

Summer’s fast and easy roughing-in technique will prevent a lot of headaches when you’re folding signatures or simple right angle scoring and folding work.

Just a side note for those of you working in a Lean manufacturing environment: I recognize that any little quirk that wastes time or material IS significant. The goal should be a zero-sheet make-ready, but that’s a topic for another article…or two. The point today is that we don’t want to be duped by what we think the folding machine is telling us.

Click the video below to see a quick demo.



If you like the article and video, use the social buttons at left or above to share with your colleagues. And we always welcome your comments, stories and suggestions below!


Wars, Weddings, Funerals, and the Rise of Printing

  
  
  

In recent years digital printing has spread out into the world, with many small businesses taking on the role of mini in-plant printer. Designers, wedding invitation specialists, funeral homes, boutique printers, promotional item manufacturers, and realtors are just a few types of companies who have added printing to their operations.

man telling story300In the old school world of commercial printing, there is often a salesperson, an ad agency, or a corporate layer insulating the producer of the product from the end user. Not so with these new ‘mini in-plants.’ Their customers are the end users, and their feedback is immediate and direct.

There is a personal lesson to be learned from the way in which these newcomers to printing think about their jobs and their clients.

Yes, precision and accuracy in print has always been important. Yet if people are using print less, then when they DO turn to it, they’ll look at it more closely than ever. It’s not okay for the job to be just okay; they must love what they see. If you’ve never delivered a job to a client, then these brief stories might shed new light on doing your job differently, and better.

Amanda Sale is President of AJ Studios where every job is unique and special to the customer. When the client picks up the printed pieces she designs for their wedding, special event, or small business marketing campaign, it’s important to her that they love the product. An ‘okay’ job simply won’t get her studio a second chance. Custom wedding invitations are one of Sale’s passions and in those cases, there is only one chance to do it right. The new bride expects that she will love the product and nothing less will do.

In an article in American Funeral Director magazine Kevin Czachor writes, “Even minor errors such as a mistake in an obituary or an incorrect font used on a prayer card can disrupt or even ruin the entire experience for those attending. Regardless of whether the fault lies with the newspaper or the printing company, small oversights have the potential to tarnish a funeral director’s reputation irrevocably.” As with weddings, there is no re-do. And the consequences from printing and finishing a job poorly are high.

Personally, one customer stands out from my years of printing work. He was a radio man in a World War II B-17 bomber who was shot down and spent time as a prisoner of war in the infamous Stalag 17B. He dropped into our print shop with a large box of handwritten pages, including his POW journal, and said he wanted to tell his story in a book. It was for his family and his friends and not necessarily for publication.

He was a retiree without a lot of disposable income so we gave him a good price to typeset, print and bind a small book. It didn’t even come close to covering the costs, but I liked the guy, and certainly I respected him for his sacrifice. My boss shook his head knowingly—he would have done the same.

Here was a fellow who felt compelled to share a vital piece of his role in history with those he would leave behind. He was a frequent visitor to the shop during the project and there was at least one day where recollections of lost friends brought tears to his eyes. We were tasked with transforming this emotional chapter of his life into ink on paper. We weren’t delivering a book; we were delivering a family treasure, a keepsake. It had to be right.

I spent many nights and weekends typesetting that book, making changes, editing, revising, and finally producing the printed book. When I’d get bleary eyed from reading the handwritten pages and peering into a computer screen, I’d think about him riding the B-17 to a crash landing in the enemy desert with two engines shot out, one engine missing entirely and a fourth barely hanging on. Then I’d continue.

Although his project seemed to take forever, it was a fraction of the two and a half years he spent as a prisoner of war. And when the final product was delivered, all my work seemed to have happened in the blink of an eye.

Not every print job can be a labor of love like this. Nor does every job have the significance of a wedding, funeral, or war experience. But if we take a minute to think of the person who will be using the product we’re producing, we are, in a way, doing our job with love. This can’t help but make for a better product, no matter what it is. It pushes us to meet these ever-rising expectations as the importance of print increases.

In an age of big data, complex technology, and endless metrics for measuring effectiveness, profits, and productivity, we shouldn’t lose sight of the person at the other end. They are a unique story and you are playing a role.

Have a story about print that touched you? Feel free to share it below. Or share this article with your colleagues using the social media buttons above or at left.


How to Run Scores Close Together on Your Folding Machine

  
  
  

cover perfect bound scored 300One frequently asked bindery question we get is “How can I produce multiple scores, very close together, on my folding machine?” These scores might be for a few different purposes such as perfect bound book covers, product cases and wraps, tray inserts, table tents, raffle ticket booklets, or other specialty folded items.

As you or your folder operator might have already discovered, there are limitations on how closely scoring or creasing tools can be spaced. However, if you need to overcome these limits, you have a few options you might not have thought about.

  1. Add pre-slitter shafts to your folder. These shafts are located just prior to the first fold roller. The combination of two sets of shafts, before and after the fold rollers, allows you to score, perf, or cut with fewer limitations. Although this option is usually ordered when the machine is made, there are retro-fit kits available on certain types of folders such as Stahl, MBO and Baumfolder. Check with your dealer. If you’re doing enough complex finishing work on your folder, it’s a great feature to have.
  2. right angle folding section inlineRun a right angle section in line with the main, parallel section. (diagram at right) Close off all the fold plates (deflectors down) and position scores or creases on both sets of slitter shafts. You get the same net effect as having pre-slitter shafts although you have the extra complication of having to register the sheet twice, once in each folding section.
  3. Run the piece through the folder two or more times, as needed. For a short run, this is a quick fix. Be sure to carefully monitor the folder’s register. After the first pass through the machine you might have a bit of curl one way or the other which can affect how well it registers. (See a related article here on reducing curl.) You don’t want the first pass to register perfectly while the second pass bounces all over the place.
  4. Use a specialty tool such as Technifold’s Spine-Hinge Creaser to create up to four creases simultaneously.

You can put this on conventional folding machines without the need for pre-slitters, and you get up to four closely spaced creases in one pass. Of course if you already have pre-slitters, then this gives you even more creasing and finishing flexibility.

Spacing between creases is adjustable as shown in the video. Spine width when running four creases is infinitely variable with a minimum of 5mm, or just under ¼”. Hinge width varies from 4mm to 17mm (5/8” plus).

All four creases can be positioned on the same side of the sheet or you can run two on one side and two on the other. Three different male rib profiles combined with four female channels provides a lot of flexibility to crease a wide range of paper.

Although this creasing tool was originally designed to produce creases for perfect bound book covers, we’ve found users applying it in numerous other product applications, as mentioned above. Since many of these require only two creases, and due to popular demand, we’ve decided to offer a 2-Crease version of the Spine-Hinge Creaser.

In short, the 2-Crease version will do either one or two creases. The minimum crease to crease distance is 4mm (just under ¼”) and the maximum is 17mm (just over 5/8”).

Both versions are available to fit MBO 30 & 35mm, and Stahl 35mm shafts. We have a slightly different version to fit the Stahl 25mm shafts.

Click the video below to see how the Spine-Hinge creaser is set up and run on an MBO folding machine. If you’d like more details and current pricing, please use the Contact Us page to send an email or call the sales office number at the top of the page.

Check back soon for a new product spec sheet on the Spine-Hinge Creaser. Or use the Contact Us Form to email us and we'll send it to you as soon as its ready, probably early the week of Aug. 18th.


How to Prevent Curled Cover Stocks on the Folding Machine

  
  
  

When you run cover stocks on a buckle folding machine, you can end up with a curl that affects how well the job will run. Naturally, to get maximum benefit from your folder you want the ability to run as big a range of cover stocks and card stock as possible.

curled cover stock300The type of job we’re talking about here is one in which you run a single, unfolded sheet through the main, parallel section. It’s then creased, scored, or perforated before moving on to the right angle for folding or other operations.

A light curl is no big deal and in most cases you won’t even notice that the sheet picked up a curl as it ran through the parallel section. But as the curl gets more pronounced, you’ll run into problems. For instance, a curled sheet might not enter the right angle side guide. Or it could prevent the sheet from entering the fold roller in the next section. It could even contribute to nicking at the lead edge of the sheet if you’re scoring or perfing.

The severity of curl is affected by a few factors.

  1. First is the thickness of the paper. Heavier paper will retain a curl more than a thinner sheet. Also, when you reach your folding machine’s limit regarding paper thickness, you’ll know it. You start to get the alligator skin effect in which the entire surface has wrinkles all over it.
  2. Next is the diameter of the fold rollers. Smaller diameter means more curl.
  3. Grain direction also has an effect. Long grain, parallel to the fold rollers, will curl a bit more than the opposite grain.

The good news is that there’s a fast and easy way to minimize or prevent curl, even on very heavy sheets. We show you how to do that in the short video below. This technique will also get rid of alligator skin.

I’ve been able to run some pretty thick cover and card stocks like this, and still maintain good register. Of course there are still limitations; you can’t run just anything. But if you haven’t tried this trick, you might be surprised to find out how many more jobs you can perform on your folding machine, on stock that is heavier than you thought possible.

For the every-day cover stocks found in a commercial printing or quick-copy environment, this technique should easily eliminate any curl problems and improve consistency in register.

Although this tip is geared towards floor model folding machines, you tabletop folding machine operators might be able to modify this idea to work on your machines. Could be a topic for a future bindery video!

Click the video below to watch.


How to Get Better Register on Your Multibinder Collator and Stitcher

  
  
  

A recent email caused a bindery flashback, uh…I mean memory…about a piece of bindery equipment that I hadn’t thought about for years. Perhaps it was the stress of running that machine more so than the passage of time that banished the experience to the far corners of my memory.

Multibinder air jogging 350Brian Dickson of Gazette Printers submitted a clever tip on how to fix a register problem on the Harris Multibinder. When he found out I was a one-time Multibinder operator he said, “I love talking with other Multibinder operators because we have many war stories.” From the sound of things, we might be better off starting our own support group!

In all fairness I shouldn’t be so harsh with the machine. When I was running one, we used it for something it was NOT designed to do. My job was to soft fold a saddle-stitched 11 x 17” tabloid in half for mailing. The Multibinder was designed to feed flat sheets, not stitched books! 

When I arrived as a new-hire at this shop, no one else wanted to run this job. The plant manager was doing it so I was ‘volunteered.’ Always eager to learn a new machine, I read the manual that night and from that point on, I believe the machine was all mine. We did this publication every month and somehow we all managed to make it work, despite frequent protests from the machine.

For those of you not familiar with a Multibinder, it is actually an impressive, versatile machine. It’s also big, at up to about 43’ long when equipped with 17 pockets. It collates flat sheets and then depending on what the job needs, can either saddle stitch, side stitch, corner stitch or collate only. Saddle stitched books are then folded and face trimmed, all in line. When set up correctly, it will do a great job.

The primary benefit to this bindery system is that sheets didn’t need to be folded before stitching. Cut the sheets, feed them flat and you end up with stitched books. (Search ‘Multibinder’ on Youtube if you want to see some machines in operation.)

The drawback is that the flat sheets must be trimmed precisely the same size and must register perfectly throughout the collating and stitching process. If the flat sheets are inconsistently trimmed, there will be variations in folding and stitching. If you have a lot of signatures, one or two incorrect cuts will make for some very sloppy looking books.

The principle of operation is simple. Feeders drop flat signatures onto the conveyor tray in front of pusher fingers. These fingers are attached to a chain which is continuously moving. As you might imagine, there can be quite a bit of vibration and movement happening. Sometimes sheets won’t jog up to the pusher correctly or they vibrate away from it as the chain moves.

When the collated flat set reaches the stitcher, it must be perfectly jogged before the shuttle grips it. If not, the stitches and fold will be wrong. If it’s bad enough, you get wicked jams in the folder which seem to take forever to clean up.

Naturally, Dickson was looking for a way to prevent the variation in register as the sheets move along the conveyor tray, also called a raceway. He ran into problems running 16 page books made up of 4-page flat signatures and noticed that two items stood out:

  1. Smaller sheet sizes don’t jog as well as larger sheets.
  2. 60# offset book stock had a tendency to stay ‘un-jogged’ if they didn’t jog in to place when the pusher fingers hit them.  The relative coarseness of the paper’s surface acted like sandpaper and prevented sheets from sliding back to the pusher finger.

Changing machine speed sometimes helped but in most cases it aggravated the problem. He also tried the manufacturer recommended brushes to help with jogging but these too often made a bigger mess of things. If the sheets had any up curl, they would catch on the lead edge of the sheet and flip it over or jam it against the pusher finger.

Multibinder air jogging 275His solution is simple. The center blower tube from each pile feeder is pulled from the pile feeder. It’s then repositioned as shown, right on the raceway, to create an air jogging system at each feeder station. The air blast separates the sheets and keeps them in position or blows them back into position if they are out.

In case you’re wondering, the missing air tube doesn’t affect pile feeding because he is usually doing this with smaller books. There is sufficient air separation to permit proper feeding with the remaining hoses.

Since first using this trick, Dickson says things have gone smoothly and he’s minimized his register problems. Although this tip is for Multibinders, I’m sure it would be effective on any type of collating machine that uses a conveyor tray or raceway, especially if you're running light stocks. There are some Didde Gather-All, Ehlerman, and Theisen & Bonitz collators and gatherers that use raceways similar in concept to this.

If you were motivated, you could build a system using Loc-Line or other flexible tubing and connectors. But there’s something more elegant, in a way only a bindery person can understand, about using duct tape, rubber bands and WD-40 to get the job done. And you don’t have to worry about getting an impossible purchase approval from those that control the purse strings.

Have a Multibinder war story? Please share it below!

Or use the social buttons to share this article with any suffering Multibinder operators you might know.


How to Eliminate Dog Ears on Buckle Folding Machines

  
  
  

old timer folder operatorThis is, without a doubt, my all-time favorite bindery tip. I say that because I struggled with this particular issue for many, many years. Then one day an old-timer I was working with said, “Hey, all you have to do is this…” and he shared the technique shown in the video below. Just like that, my problem disappeared!

As the title says, the problem we’re talking about is commonly called a dog ear, which you encounter in letter fold brochure work. A typical scenario is an 11x17 that folds to a #10 letter fold. It folds in half once to 8.5 x 11 and then into the right angle for two folds down to a letter fold. Another type of dog ear occurs when you’re perforating signature work, but we’ll talk about that in a separate article and video.

dog ear 250Even if the brochure is trimmed properly, there is often a tendency to get the occasional bent edge or bent corner as shown. Bent corners (dog ears) are visible from the outside. Bent edges are hidden inside but an indicator you have them is that your fold starts to vary for no apparent reason.

The conventional way to deal with the problem is to trim the job so that the inside panel is approximately 1/16” short. Some operators will trim off even more when faced with a dog ear, but this often makes the problem worse. The great thing about this technique is that it works no matter how you’ve trimmed the job, within reason of course.

You can also use this technique on a regular, single sheet letter fold. The only difference is that with the single sheet you close off the fold plates in the first section.

So check out the video below. We talk about a few things we didn’t cover in our original post on this topic, and it only takes five minutes. If you struggle with dog ears, then this tip will help you turn out some amazing folding machine work that will leave people wondering how you did it.

Note: there are other ways to deal with the problem. We'll look at some of those in upcoming videos. In the meantime, check out this sure-fire technique below, demonstrated on an MBO B123 folder.

 

 

 

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How to Do a Cut Score on Your Folding Machine

  
  
  

Here’s a ‘scoring’ technique borrowed from the greeting card industry. It might seem a little old school, but it’s still used quite often, and it’s a great technique to have available when you need it.

cut score diagram325The video below demonstrates how to create a cut score (also called a kiss cut, or semi slit) on your folding machine. The term has a slightly different meaning in the packaging industry, but for our purposes, we’ll define it as a method in which you cut partially through the sheet. The purpose of the cut-score is to create a fold that’s nearly flat. As you’ll see in the video, it makes for cards that lie extremely flat.

Generally, a cut score is used on uncoated paper. For aesthetic reasons it’s usually not applied where there is ink coverage, but I have seen it done. I haven’t seen it used too often on coated paper, but I’m sure there are applications where it makes sense. As long as the visible cut line is acceptable, there is no reason not to do it. Cut scores work best on stocks 7 pt. or heavier.

This technique will work with any Technifold Micro Perforator, Multi Tool or CP Applicator. We’re running this on our “new” 20 year old MBO B123 to show that your folder doesn’t have to be brand new. But it does require a certain level of precision and mechanical upkeep. Our slitter shafts are new and the bushings and fold rollers are in good shape.

If you have any of the Technifold tools mentioned, all you need is one of our cut score blades (a.k.a. kiss cut) to fit in place of your perforating blade. The kiss cut blade has a much smaller diameter than regular cutting or perfing blades, since we don’t need it to cut all the way through the sheet. (Note: because our perforating tool design is different than most OEM tools, these blades are not interchangeable with other devices. They only work on a Technifold product.)

You’ll see in the video that I ran three different stocks. The green 65# cover and yellow 110# index are each about 8-9 pt. The dark blue stock is a Cougar Cover, which is about 14 pt. All of them worked well with the cut score, registering and folding perfectly.

You might not have to resort to cut scores very often, but when you do, you can see that it’s easy to accomplish. It’s an awesome finishing tool to have available when needed. It’s also great to educate your clients about this alternative solution, one which they might not have known about.

Click the video below to watch the demo.


 

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How Not to Make a Bindery How-To Video

  
  
  

media player bindery tipsOnce again I find myself, late at night, standing over a folding machine scratching my head. I flash back to many late night struggles in the bindery, only this time I’m upset because the folding machine is working TOO well.

You see, I set out earlier in the day to make a short video demonstrating an easy technique for eliminating dog ears on folded brochures. A sixty second video can often explain a concept far better than a 600 word article. (You can read a previous article on the topic here.)

In fact, we recently installed an MBO B123 4-4-4 folding machine in our shop whose sole purpose is to be a platform for all the folding machine videos that you’ve been asking about for years. Our plan is to bring lots of how-to articles from the Bindery Success Blog to the big screen. Technifold USA customers will also be seeing detailed instructional videos on how to properly use our creasing, perforating and cutting products and all their accessories.

Back to our dog ears. Our ‘new’ MBO is actually a beautifully refurbished 1994 folder sold to us by our friends at Pasquariello Graphics in North Attleboro, MA. I wanted a machine with a few miles on it to show what can be done with the type of folding machine you’re likely to find in the field.

So I put a 12 x 18” sheet on the machine to fold once to 9 x 12” then into the right angle for a letter fold to 4 x 9”.  “Should be a good recipe for a dog ear,” I thought to myself. Keep in mind that if you’re going to show how to solve a problem, you first have to create the problem. If you’ve ever run this type of work, you know what I mean. When you make the inside panel fold a bit too tight or if it has the wrong curl, you have instant dog ears.

Lights, camera, action…and...nothing. It was folding perfectly. No matter how I adjusted the fold I couldn’t get the blasted thing to make a dog ear. I wanted that unmistakable look of the classic bent inside corner. What the heck did they DO to this machine?! It wasn’t supposed to be running perfectly.

Clever guy that I am I confess that I bent some corners by hand. I wanted to run some heavier paper (better chance of dog ears) but I didn’t have any and it was late. So my hand-made ‘problem’ would have to do. These would, I reasoned, give me an acceptable illustration of what we’re trying to solve.

Next I discovered I didn’t have the right size metal scoring blade on hand to do the technique properly. They were all too small.

Never fear, that’s why we have masking tape. I added tape to a pull-out wheel to give it a bigger ‘diameter’ to compensate for the small diameter of the scoring blade. While it worked somewhat, it just didn’t look that good on video nor did it show clearly what I was trying to demo.

So that left me without the close-up I had envisioned, which is really the most important part of the tip. But I figured I could get by with what I had and I didn’t have time to order parts and get the job done correctly.

The next morning I estimated my short video would only take a couple hours to upload and edit. Until, that is, I discovered that there was no port on my new computer for the video camera cable.

OK, that’s an easy fix. Radio Shack always has the right cables, or they’ll have a converter. Except for this particular cable. There is no such animal and I have to get a new card installed on the computer to accept this style of cable.

Now I’m left with the option of firing up the old, unstable computer in order to capture the video and then transfer it to the new computer. Or do I dare take the card I need from the old computer and install it in the new one? Or do I call a geek to do it for me?

No. Three days into this half-day task, I decided this video was not meant to be, at least not this week. Too many things that are just not quite right don’t add up to inspiration for the video creator or more importantly, the viewer.

But there is, apparently, one thing that IS meant to be, and that’s me and a folding machine and a cup of coffee, late at night. No I won’t give up. There will be a video that looks the way it’s supposed to look, even if I’m up all night with this machine.

Yes, we are meant to be. Some things never change.


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