Is My Folding Machine's Mechanical Condition Good Enough?
Whenever folding machine owners discuss the addition of Technifold’s creasing, micro perforating and cutting tools, we are often asked whether their folders have to be in top-notch shape for the tools to work properly.
Here’s the short answer. If your folding machine can produce a variety of folding jobs at a level acceptable to you and your customers, then yes, it should be in good enough shape to add our creasing, perfing or cutting devices. In our experience, most shops have reasonably well-maintained folders which can easily incorporate a mix of finishing accessories to boost folder productivity.
Here’s the slightly longer answer. (You knew there would be one, right?) Adding powerful, precision tools to your bindery equipment vastly increases your capabilities and production potential. Yet because of their very nature they can also do the following:
- Expose defects or worn parts in the bindery equipment
- Expose weakness or carelessness in operator technique. (It can also highlight exceptional operator technique!)
- Create a learning curve for the operator and production manager
You’ll see however, that these are not bad things. Once corrected, you’ll find your bindery department reaching for greater productivity.
Let’s say your folder has been handling run-of-the-mill folding jobs perfectly. Now you add a micro perforator to your slitter shafts. The design of this tool requires that your shafts be in very good condition, along with the bushings or bearings. Any sloppiness here and it will show up in the results.
When you are folding normal work without much in the way of precision scores or perfs, you can get away with worn out slitter shaft bearings and even with bent shafts. Not so when you add a precision tool. The good news is that such items are easy, relatively inexpensive fixes and the return is huge when new high-speed operations are added to the folder.
Let’s say we plan to add a Tri-Creaser to your folder. To get maximum benefit you will frequently need to run jobs in ‘landscape’ format so the crease can be applied in the parallel section for folding in the right angle section. If the operator is accustomed to running letterfolds, 4-pagers and other commonly produced brochures, they can for instance, get away with a little carelessness in feeding because the sheet will almost always register if it’s not too far away from the side guide.
Not so with a landscape-oriented (or oblong) sheet. Sloppy feeding will show up as poor registration in the scoring. It’s not hard at all to feed in this manner (Click Here and Here for some tips) but a bit more care needs to be taken when setting up the folder. The good news is that tens of thousands of operators are using Technifold tools to produce millions of high-quality pieces daily without having to work any harder than they do now. And in many cases they find out that their work has become easier. Just ask any folder operator who has gone from running jobs perfed on a press, to running jobs perfed on the folder under their own control!
The bright side to operator technique is that if you are blessed to have a great operator, you will get even greater results with the right mix of tools. I frequently see good operators who are inspired once they see what they can produce on their folders. They often end up competing with themselves for ever-greater productivity and creativity. Such a result is truly priceless.
With the addition of these new creasing and cutting tools, you now have the ability to run multiple-up jobs, even on cover stocks. This will provide you with a tremendous boost in productivity, especially if you are doing longer runs. Our creasing devices often mean you can print jobs to fold against the grain, allowing you to use smaller sheets. Of course this now means you’ll need to spend a little time considering layouts that you may not have considered before. Small learning curve, big payout, especially with paper savings.
Most of our tools have lots of options for handling a variety of stocks. That’s a very good thing. It also means you may have to take some time to experiment with the stocks that you run. There is no single right or wrong way to crease a job. There might be 3 or 4 crease settings that work, but you won’t know which looks best until you take a few minutes to experiment. There are thousands of combinations of paper, inks, humidity levels, coatings and laminations which interact differently.
Be sure to experiment, then log your successful test results and simply repeat them when that job or that stock returns.
If you happen to be coming up on some slow time, consider having a technician come in to give your folding machine and other bindery equipment a checkup. And of course be sure to include regular equipment maintenance in your schedule. It’s all time and money well spent, often returning dividends hundreds of times over.
As always, we welcome your comments and shared experiences below!