Bindery equipment operators, especially newcomers, sometimes mistakenly blame the machine for a problem. Yet there is one important but frequently overlooked item which, when handled correctly, will fix a variety of common ‘problems’ with direct-feed scoring, folding and perforating machines.
By direct infeed bindery equipment, I’m primarily talking about those machines in which the sheet of paper is fed directly from the feeder into a set of rollers in which the scoring, perforating, folding, or cutting operation is done. Lots of equipment falls into this category, such as the Baum 714 folding machine, our own CreaseStream Mini series, and many models of the popular scoring and perforating machines such as Pierce, Rosback, Rollem, Graphic Whizard and more.
Although the solution to this problem, which I’ll share in a minute, can be surprisingly simple, it eludes many, especially those new to print finishing altogether. With more and more businesses setting up in-plant printing operations, there are more newcomers than ever.
Other bindery equipment operators who are experienced with more sophisticated equipment sometimes struggle because they are new to this type of machine. They might be used to more complex feeding systems which use a ‘register table’ in between the feeder and the initial set of rollers. As the name implies, such a table positions and aligns, or registers, every sheet before it enters the rollers.
Direct feed machines are usually lower in cost than their more sophisticated register table brethren since they don’t have a register table. They’re less complex and easier to set up and run. And they are perfect for a wide range of small format papers, especially in the short-run digital and offset market.
The problem I mentioned has few symptoms: crooked score or perf lines, inconsistent register, with the sheet bouncing, twisting, or tailing as it passes through the rollers. Granted, depending on the job you’re doing and the machine you’re running, and the type of paper, there can indeed be numerous reasons for any given symptom.
It’s easy to first look for fault in the machine or the tools being used on the machine. Yet one of the easiest things to check is one of the biggest causes of register problems … and that’s the paper itself.
For a direct feed machine to perform well, the paper going into it must be trimmed accurately and consistently. But so many times that is NOT the case. A little bit of variation in the paper can make a big difference in your results, especially if the variation is along the dimension in which the final fold takes place.
In the video below we talk about some simple paper issues to avoid which will help you get better register on a wide range of print finishing machines. In next week's video we look at another simple element guaranteed to improve your results.
Here’s a related article with tips on getting good results with scoring machines.