Floor-model Folders -- Accessories Add SparkleJanuary 2001
"The function for this unit includes counting of single sheets and batching, marking by lateral shifting and double pressing of a single sheet," says Cutshall. "It can deliver as many as four-up. We also have the upright stack delivery, SBP.D, with the same functions of the VSA except that folded pieces are delivered upright, on the edge of the fold."
With a general lack of qualified operators in the U.S. market, Cutshall believes customers are seeking more automated and less labor-intensive equipment. In response, Heidelberg offers the 20˝ Stahl TD52 and 30˝ TD78 folders.
The 52 has standard features such as flat pile feeder with TREMAT, fully automatic buckle plates, automatic slide lay guide on cross carrier and DCT 2000 comfort control. The 78 has the same basic standard features, along with a continuous round feeder.
Pressing and/or stacking deliveries continue to be popular options for printers and trade binders, according to John Porter, division manager for LDR International. In-line gluing, he adds, is still highly desirable.
"The ability to finish small books on the folding machine can be very cost-effective," Porter states. "Manufacturing of return envelopes is only one of the many different products that can be done in-line on the folder with the modern glue systems."
Easy Operation Required
Higher costs, slimmer margins and a shortage of labor are forcing the industry—manufacturers included—to have machines that are not only more productive, but also easier to operate, he notes. The print-on-demand segment turned folders with computerized setups from a feature du jour to a necessity. And Porter believes that the higher outlay for such units is being recovered nicely courtesy of faster setups and easier operation, thus providing greater production output.
The Shoei folding machines offered by LDR have made their mark in computer-assisted setup and are available in the standard configuration, with manual settings for the fold plates and caliper settings on the fold rolls.
Customers are finding a desirable return on investment with auxiliary equipment such as presser/stacker deliveries, bundling and banding machines, as well as gluing systems, according to Hans Max, president of MBO America. His company is offering the new BA-900 bander/bundler that can run in one-, two-, three- and four-up production mode.
Max also notes a current labor shortage, particularly in the postpress area, which has prompted customer calls for machines that are easy to operate, more electronic than mechanical, and inexpensive to maintain. MBO's marble-less Perfection folder allows printers to increase production by 20 percent to 25 percent. The unit is offered with Rapidset, a computerized make- ready system that boasts features including the display of full setup instructions for fold roller settings, slitter shafts and sidelays.
At Graph Expo 2000, MBO also unveiled the Navigator system with an optional, 15˝ color touchscreen monitor. By utilizing PLC technology, it allows the Perfection folder to be integrated into a digital workflow. The software assists operators by giving them instructions for troubleshooting. In addition, plant managers, supervisors and engineering personnel no longer have to look for misplaced documentation, such as instruction manuals, parts books, wiring diagrams, imposition catalogs and folding tips, since all information is now digitized.
The market is seeking more automation, reduced labor and high-speed processing systems that accomplish multiple tasks in-line, under central operator control, according to Ben Polk, vice president of marketing for Profold. He feels Profold's GPS 4000 meets that definition for the graphic arts industry.
More Mail Merging
The Profold GPS 4000 self-mailer system automates the production of the self-mailer-style mailing piece. It includes Profold's parallel and right-angle folder, tabbing unit, air base transport, ink-jet addressing system (optional, accommodates most brands) and stacking conveyor. Return on investment is less than a year, depending on volume of mail.
"We believe that printers and binderies are going to merge mail preparation services in with their other service offerings," Polk says. "A good deal of their current production is in printing and folding self-mailers, only to send it out to a mail house for sorting and postage. The GPS 4000 will allow them to keep that process in-house and do it efficiently with minimal operator intervention. More importantly, control of the mail piece remains with the original producer, reducing the chance of damage and assuring that the mailing will be made on time."
Polk adds that the system can also be configured to apply stamps, marketing stickers and labels to a variety of substrates, including CD carrier packs, by placing a feeder between the right angle folder and the tabbing/labeling module.
Keeping units user-friendly and setup time between jobs as short as possible is a top task for the manufacturers of folders, according to Bill Stober, vice president of sales and marketing at Advance Graphics Equipment of York. Their machines incorporate on-the-run adjustments to trim dimensions of the fold. Sets of folding cylinders or cassettes are set up off-line and then exchanged, rather than setting up each individual cylinder online in a folder.
"We manufacture plow folders for in-line folding that are used on label presses up through wide gravure presses," Stober remarks.
"Customers are still looking for the basic in-line folder used in the label industry," he adds. "We also manufacture an eight-page folder that is of interest to the customer that has a small bindery and now wants to produce his own signatures. There is also the printer that is looking for in-line and cross folds to be performed right on press, so the job is finished when the press run is completed."
Finding the correct balance of automation and manual setup features—contends Mark Pellman, sales engineer for Baumfolder—is important in order to produce quality and timely production. Too much automation, he cautions, can remove the adjustments needed to compensate for printing and cutting variations.
"Another factor in today's folding machines is the increased amount of recycled papers with ever-changing physical properties that require a folder to maintain a positive drive on the paper without slippage," Pellman says. "These paper changes affect the paper grain and creasing properties of the paper."
Pellman notes that all Baum floor-model folders have been updated to meet these needs, with more operator-friendly features for the beginning operator to easily set sheet gaps and vacuum adjustments. The Baum 2015 is its latest offering, a "next step" for the business that only has small-format printing and the increased volume to move up from a tabletop folder.
In-line folding with wrapping capability and the ability to add additional FSIs to the final package are a few of the features customers seek, according to Josie Muigai, marketing manager for Buhrs Americas. She also feels that press speed, page count and off-line applications are influencing the manner in which folders are being manufactured.
"The systems need to run at higher speeds, but still maintain a good fold," Muigai notes. "With higher page counts, it gets harder to fold at higher speeds. Many folders need to be easy to set up and run in different areas of the plant. Therefore, portability is something customers seek."
The Buhrs-ITM quarterfolder is a high-speed, knife-type quarterfolder used for quarter folding newspapers or press/ trimmed signatures at speeds up to 23,000 folds per hour. The quarterfolder can be fed by a variety of feeders, and can be easily incorporated into a number of collators or other finishing systems.
Stacey Porto, marketing supervisor for GBR Systems, believes that bindery houses and printers are looking for folders that automate the bindery process so they can deliver product faster and more cost-effectively. Increased labor costs, the lack of qualified operators, and customer demands for flexibility and quick turnaround, are driving binderies and printers to rely on automated, state-of-the-art folding technologies.
GBR Systems offers a computer-controlled Mathias Bäuerle (MB) CAS 52-B folder with the SetMATIC system. The folder offers fully automated features such as automatic setting of fold plates, fold roller gaps, alignment rails and delivery rollers—all set by computer calculation. When one of the 60 custom fold jobs is recalled, fold sizes, speed, sheet gap, shingling of sheets, suction length, counting functions, double sheet and paper travel control, and alignment rails automatically move into their correct positions based on the data previously saved.
Count Machinery offers several folding units, including the midsize Count-Fold 235 S, an airfeed, modular system. Standard features include adjustable roll calipers, poly/steel combo rollers, scoring attachment and sealed bearings. The unit folds up to 30,000 sph.
Challenge Machinery offers a pair of units that fall somewhere between the table-top and floor models. One such unit is the Medalist 870 folder, available with a right-angle folding attachment. It features flip-up swing deflectors that allow setup changes without completely removing the plates, as well as a swing-away feed table for easy access to the lower fold plate.
Back to School
Every industry offers seminars and courses to keep education paramount and facilitate that particular industry's growth. Vendors to the printing and graphic arts industry are no exception, recognizing that the paucity of labor is an important issue—especially in the bindery.
MBO America is one such company offering training in the art of paper folding via machine. MBO offers courses on folding to allow operators and supervisory personnel to be trained in every phase of folding machine operation and production.
Completely equipped facilities, in Illinois and in New Jersey, offer the advantage of a knowledgable teaching faculty and a variety of folding machines, delivery units and accessories. Courses are available for both new and experienced operators, generally over a three-day period.
Folding 101, for beginners, is designed to teach the fundamentals of folding paper, as well as the safe operation of machinery and accessory units. Students set up different jobs with a variety of paper sizes and deal with problems associated with different impositions and paper stock.
Folding 102 focuses on more complex problems and has a higher emphasis on machine principles covering both mechanical and electrical features. The course also provides a framework for improving operator proficiency with slitting, center bleed, edge trimming, perforating and creasing, along with gluing and double-gate folding.
The MBO folding school is operated under the direction of David Trutzenbach, an authority on binding operations and equipment with more than 40 years of binding operations experience. For more information on the folding school, contact MBO America at (609) 267-2900 for a course catalog with dates.