Floor-Model Folders — A Fold in Time
This automation often replaces most, if not all, of the need for operator makeready and operating skills. "With complex folds, fine adjustments often have to be made, so the benefit of an automated folder where fine adjustments are made one increment at a time at the touch of a button is crucial in a bindery's productivity," she claims.
The ultimate goal is zero makeready time. Hence today's computer-controlled folder now incorporates automated fold plates, fold roller gaps, alignment rails and delivery rollers. It also has programmable job functions where an operator can store a fold in memory and recall it at the touch of a button. This feature cuts make-ready and fold changeover times significantly, in particular for difficult folds such as gatefolds.
"Fast makeready and quick turnaround times result in high productivity, whilst retaining the highest folding quality available," claims Sohn.
Job memory is a particularly important feature to consider if a user runs a number of different jobs. "This can take labor savings to an even higher level, allowing for instant recall of recurring jobs," states Dubuque.
Versatility is also essential for printers when purchasing a new folding machine, according to Wayne Pagel, president of Kepes Inc. Many processes that were traditionally a separate letterpress operation are now being incorporated into the folding/finishing process. These include high-quality scoring of heavy stocks, pattern perforating, and some cutting and punching operations.
"Printers are being asked to finish a wider range of stocks, in more complex processes," Pagel says. "This calls for modular folding systems that can be reconfigured on a job-to-job basis. The sequence of machinery needed to 'fold' the job may involve 10 or more pieces of folding and finishing equipment. From the feeder on through to the delivery, every piece of the process needs to be able to interchange with another." As a result, he says that few printers can justify a dedicated system only capable of one type of process.