What Kind of Binding Machines are there?

March 11, 2019
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Confused by Binding Machines

Document binding is used by nearly every business. From small family-owned businesses to huge worldwide corporations, using a document binding machine is an action that many people have performed. But have you ever wondered what kinds of bindings there are? You may use a plastic GBC binder or a spiral binder, but what else is out there? In this comprehensive guide we will discuss the various kinds of binding machines, as well as provide photos of the bindings themselves, and what a finished bound document looks like. With this information, you can decide whether the style of book binding that you are currently doing is the best for your, or if it may be time to start exploring more professional, more cost-effective, or less labor-intensive options.

Before we dive in, let's review a couple of specs that you will see mentioned:

  1. 360° Page Turn - When we talk about the page turning we refer to the ability for pages to flip all the way around to the back without being visible. Some binding styles do allow for the pages to turn around all the way, but it creates an arc of paper around the spine (so the spine is not visible).
  2. Lay-Flat - When we talk about lay flat, we refer to the books being able to lay open without needing to hold the pages/covers down. Sometimes a binding style can lay flat is you press down or crease the cover/pages, but other styles will lay flat naturally without having to press down pages.
  3. Perfect Registration - This means that when pages are turned, they remain completely aligned and square, rather than being offset.

There are quite a few binding styles to review, so if at any time you feel overwhelmed or want some guidance from our trained experts, give us a call at (866) 537-2244.

Spiral Binding Machines

Spiral Binding Coils

Compatible Binding Supplies: Spiral Binding Coils
Material: Plastic
Other Names: Coil Binding, Plastic Coil, Spiralastic, Spiral Binders
Min / Max Book Thickness*: 5/32" to 1 ¾" thick (5 to 440 Sheets)
Lay Flat: Yes
360° Page Turn: Yes
Perfect Registration: No

Spiral binding is arguably the #1 sold binding style of 2018 for businesses of many kinds. Schools, offices, restaurants, print shops, corporations, and many other clients choose the flexible plastic coiled binders for their documents. Some of the primary reasons are that binding coils are durable and will bounce-back to their original shape, they can bind pretty thick books, and they are fairly simple to use. They also offer easy lay-flat and 360° page turning for legibility.

The spiral binding process involved 3 general steps: punch the pages, roll in the coil, and crimp the coil ends. Between those three straight-forward steps, you will want to adjust the machine margins and paper guides for your document, choose whether to roll the coil in by hand or with electric rollers, and choose whether you want to manually crimp the coil with pliers or use an electric crimper. The spiral binding machine that you use for your organization may vary anywhere from a small personal binding machines under $200, up to large semi-automatic coil binders in the tens of thousands range. Because there is quite a wide variety, the best way to know which machine is best is to ask yourself a few questions about the intended use:

    1. What is thew largest sheet size I will bind, and will I bind various other sheet sizes? If you plan on binding any size other than standard letter size (8 ½" W x 11" high, 11" binding edge) then you will want to make sure you get a coil binding machine with disengageable pins. These pins let you stop the machine from punching specific holes of your choosing, which will prevent half-holes on the edge of your paper when doing other sizes. If you are doing larger sizes than letter, you will also need to be sure the binding edge is wide enough and, if not, that it is an open punching throat so you can flip your pages and punch the extra that didn't fit in the first punch.

    2. What is the thickest book I will bind? Not only do you want to determine if coil bindings are available in that larger size, but you also want to think about the fact that binder coils get more difficult to roll in by hand as they get larger. So if you will be using the full range of sizes, including up to or close to the 50mm coils, you will probably want to get a machine with an electric coil inserter (or possibly as a modular inserter if your volume doesn't call for an electric punch).

    3. How many will I be binding at a time, and how often? Volume is an important factor to consider. If you will be binding several books in batches, several times a week or more, then you will probably want to look into an electric punch with an electric coil inserter as well. Whereas if you will only be binding a couple books every month or so, you may want to save some money and go with a manual punch and just roll the coils in by hand instead. Think about not just what your immediate planned volume will be, but also what your near future looks like; if your business is growing, then consider going at least a step up from what your current volume would call for.

Now that you have asked yourself those questions, you will have a better idea of where to start. Here are some of our most popular spiral binding machines, with the answers listed so you know which could be best for your needs. You can also call our expert staff at (866) 537-2244 to help guide you in the right direction.

CoilMac-M Plus

Open Punch Throat: Yes
Disengageable Pins: Yes
Punch: Manual
Coil Insert: Manual
Crimping: Manual

CoilMac-EX Plus

Open Punch Throat: Yes
Disengageable Pins: Yes
Punch: Electric
Coil Insert: Electric, 1 Roller
Crimping: Manual

System 3000

Open Punch Throat: Yes
Disengageable Pins: Yes
Punch: Electric
Coil Insert: Electric, 2 Roller
Crimping: Electric


Binding Coils

Roller Inserters

Coil Crimpers

All Coil Equipment


Wire-O Binding Machines

Twin Loop Wire Binders

Compatible Binding Supplies: Wire-O Twin Loop Binding Supplies
Material: Metal Wire
Other Names: Twin loop binding, wire binding spines, double-o wire binders
Min / Max Book Thickness*: 1/8" to 1 ⅛" thick (5 to 260 Sheets)
Lay Flat: Yes
360° Page Turn: Yes
Perfect Registration: Yes

Wire-O binding supplies, also called twin loop binding wires, are incredibly popular for cleaner and more professional presentations. The metallic wire is attractive and the double looped pattern is neat. The wires allow for easy lay flat reading, or 360° page flips. Plus, perfect registration means your pages are always perfectly square and aligned, even when flipped over. You can find wire bindings on a huge variety of documents, such as financial reports, client proposals, notebooks and journals, and more. Binding wires are not flexible, however, so will not bounce back if they are bent; so they are not perfect for heavy-handled books.

Wire binding involves three simple steps: punching the holes, inserting the wire, and closing the wire. You will also need to align your pages and adjust any margins or guides before you punch. Most wire binding machines have a wire closer included on them, but some heavy duty machines offer them separately. To avoid pages falling off the wire before you close it, a wire hanger or snatch is a great feature to have. A magnetic wire closer is also ideal, as it will stop the wire from moving around. Because there is quite a wide variety of wire binder machines available, ask yourself a few questions about the intended use to guide you in the right direction:

    1. What is thew largest sheet size I will bind, and will I bind various other sheet sizes? Just as with coil binding, it is important to know what sheet size you will be using for your books now, and into the future. If you plan on binding any size other than standard letter size 8 ½" W x 11" high sheets on the 11" edge, then you want to make sure you buy a wire binding machine that is equipped with disengageable punching pins. These pins let you stop the machine from punching specific holes of your choosing, which will prevent half-holes on the edge of your paper; very important when doing other sizes.

    2. What is the thickest book I will bind? Be sure that the largest wire size available will work for the largest book you plan to bind. This seems like a pretty obvious question, but remember to think not just about your current projects, but about what projects you may be doing in the future as well. If wires are too small, then consider something with a larger max capacity.

    3. How many will I be binding at a time, and how often? Volume is an important factor to consider for any binding, including wire. If you will be binding many books at a time every day or even several times a week or more, then you will probably want to look into an electric punch. Whereas if you will only be binding a couple books every month or so, you may want to save some money and go with a manual punch. Think about not just what your immediate planned volume will be, but also what your near future looks like; if your business is growing, then consider going at least a step up from what your current volume would call for. Most wire binding punch machines have a manual wire closer included on the machine, but separate module closers are also available for a more assembly-line operation.

Now that you have narrowed down some important information for wire binding, you will have a better idea of where to start on your binding machine search. Here are a couple of our most popular spiral binding machines, with the answers to the above listed. Remember that you can always call our expertly trained team at (866) 537-2244 to help guide you in the right direction.

WireMac-M

Open Punch Throat: Yes
Pitch: 3:1 or 2:1 (not both)
Disengageable Pins: Yes
Punch: Manual
Wire Close: Manual

WireMac-Duo

Open Punch Throat: Yes
Pitch: 3:1 & 2:1
Disengageable Pins: Yes
Punch: Manual
Wire Close: Manual

WireMac-EX

Open Punch Throat: Yes
Pitch: 3:1 or 2:1 (not both)
Disengageable Pins: Yes
Punch: Electric
Wire Close: Manual


Binding Wires

Wire Spools

Wire Closer Modules

All Wire-O Equipment


Comb Binding Machines

Plastic Binding Combs

Compatible Binding Supplies: Plastic Binding Combs & Spiral-O Wire Combs
Material: Plastic
Other Names: GBC, plastic comb binders, 19 ring combs
Min / Max Book Thickness*: 1/8" to 1 ⅞" thick (5 to 425 Sheets) / 1/8" to 7/8" thick (5 to 210 Sheets) with Spiral-O
Lay Flat: Yes
360° Page Turn: No / Yes with Spiral-O
Perfect Registration: Yes

Plastic binding combs, often called GBC comb binders, are also in the top three sold traditional binding methods. They are popular because they are incredibly inexpensive, can bind very thick books, and can be custom printed on to give you document a labeled spine. Comb bound books will lay flat easily, but they pages won't turn a full 360° because of that printable spine. Some users who don't choose comb simply say that it is not modern enough or looks a little cheap because of the plastic material. But the customers that do use it love how easy they are, and the versatility...plus they can be re-opened and your books can be edited as often as you may need. You will find plastic binder combs on a variety of documents including larger proposals for business, blueprints and plans for engineers, machine user manuals, recipe books, and more.

The comb binding process is simple, and takes three basic steps: punch the pages, open the comb to place your pages on the prongs, and close the comb. This open/close binding means you can re-open and re-close the combs as many times as you need, for easy editing. Most comb punches also have the comb spreader included, but modular options are also available. Comb binders range in price and volume-intended quite a bit, like many other binding machines, but they do tend to be a bit less expensive overall.

Comb binding machines punch 19 rectangular holes along an 11" edge, which is also compatible with specialty Spiral-O wire binding combs. These unique twin-loop binding wires were made specifically to work with comb punch machines, so that those who have a comb machine also have the option of making a more professional wire-bound book. You will just need to be sure to add a wire closer to your lineup so you can finish the bind. You will also want to be sure to ask yourself these questions about the intended use before you settle on GBC binders as your method of choice:

    1. What is thew largest sheet size I will bind, and will I bind various other sheet sizes? Knowing the intended sheet size for your needs today, and moving forward, is important. If you plan to punch and bind anything other than letter size documents on the long edge (8 ½" W x 11" high), whether smaller or larger, then you will want to make sure you get a comb binding machine that is equipped with fully disengageable punching pins. These punch pins let you prevent the machine from punching specific holes, which stop half-holes on the edge of your page. If you are doing larger sizes, then you also need to make sure the punching throat is open and not closed off.

    2. What is the thickest book I will bind? Binding combs will bind thicker books than most other punch-and-bind options. If you need something thicker, than it may be time to look into a non-machine binder such as screw posts, which can bind up to 5" or more.

    3. How many books I bind in one sitting, and how often? When it comes to binding, your volume is somplething important to consider. Manual punching can be tedious if you're doing many books at a time, while electric punching might be overkill if you're just doing a few per week. Remember to think about your current and future needs.

Now you should have a better idea of where to start your comb bin ding machine search. Below are some of our most popular gbc binders, as well as some modular accessories and supply options to review. If you need assistance, please call us at (866) 537-2244 to speak without friendly and helpful customer care team, who can help guide you in the right direction.

CB200 Plus

Open Punch Throat: No
Disengageable Pins: No
Punch: Manual
Comb Open: Manual

MegaBind-1M

Open Punch Throat: Yes
Disengageable Pins: Yes
Punch: Manual
Comb Open: Manual

CombMac-EX

Open Punch Throat: Yes
Disengageable Pins: Yes
Punch: Electric
Comb Open: Manual


Binding Combs

Custom Combs

Comb Openers

All Comb Equipment


Thermal Binding Machines

Thermal Binding Covers

Compatible Binding Supplies: Thermal Binding Covers
Material: Soft or Hard Covers
Other Names: Hot melt binding, glue binding
Min / Max Book Thickness*: 1/16" to 2" thick (5 to 500 Sheets), depending on cover
Lay Flat: Yes, depending on cover
360° Page Turn: No
Perfect Registration: Yes

Thermal binding offers more versatility of the finished look than any other binding method. That is because it uses thermal binding covers, rather than a binding spine, and the covers can look quite different. There are soft covers with or without windows, as well as hard covers. There are even some options that you can easily customize in-house with no special equipment. Thermal binding is incredibly professional, and perfect for schools and businesses that want a premium finished look, but don't have the time to outsource.

Thermal binding machines require no maintenance, and require no punching. They are the fastest way to bind books, and you can have a stack of them done in 1 minute. All you have to do is place your pages into a cover, and place the cover into the machine. The machine will heat up the pre-applied glue in the cover and bind your pages in. The cover just needs to cool, and then is done! You can bind several books at one time, speeding up the process even more. There are manual thermal binding machines where you move the cover from the heat plate to the cooling rack, as well as more automated options that offer continuous loading by your operator while the machine does all the work. They are incredibly simple, and create an incredibly profesional finish.

Before you choose thermal binding as your choice, ask yourself these questions:

    1. What is thew largest sheet size I will bind, and will I bind various other sheet sizes? Thermal binding covers are stocked in letter size only, meant for standard 8.5" x 11" sheets. Custom cover sizes are available by special order, but for your on-demand needs the letter size are stocked.

    2. What is the thickest book I will bind? Different thermal binding covers have different maximum capacities. Some of the soft covers come in spine sizes up to 2", while the hard covers are limited to about 1" maximum.

    3. How many books I bind in one sitting, and how often? This question is a bit less important for thermal binding, because even the manual model is not labor intensive or time-comsuming. If you need to bind less then about 2,000 books per year, we recommend the manual machines. Or any more, consider upgrading to the more automatic options.

Now take a look at the thermal binding machines below, as well as some of the most popular thermal binding cover options. If you need help, give us a call at (866) 537-2244 and we will point you in the right direction for our specific needs.

Flex

Cube

Ultra / Ultra


Linen Soft Covers

Window Hardcovers

Printable Covers

All Thermal Binding


Modular Binding Punch Machines

Modular Binding Supplies

Compatible Binding Supplies: Many Bindi