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Mechanical Binding -- Bound for Success

March 2004
By Erik Cagle

Senior Editor

In one of many hilarious episodes from the long-running animated hit television series, "The Simpsons," bartender Moe Szyslak is hammering a crayon up Homer Simpson's nose to restore his less-than-Hawkingesque intelligence level to subpar standards. Don't ask why.

During the hammering, viewers can witness Homer's digressing intelligence as the crayon is pushed deeper into his brain. At one point during the hammering, Homer mindlessly blathers, "de-fense, de-fense," but the deeper, more acceptable (and thus dumber) level Moe reaches with the crayon (it's called a "Crayola Oblongata") causes Homer to utter, "Extended warranty? How can I lose?"

We'll not debate the merits of parts and service agreements; we've seen in the commercial printing industry that some service contracts are mandatory, which makes it more of a bundle with the product as opposed to a contract. But you don't need Homer Simpson's endorsement to appreciate the beauty in not needing the service contract component of a purchase in the case of mechanical binding.

David Spiel, co-owner and mechanical binding czar at Spiel Associates, appreciates the value of a hearty machine that is manufactured for sustainability—it's built to last.

"Some manufacturers make their money on service," Spiel contends. "We don't like to do that, so we do it right the first time. About 85 percent of the time, after we've installed one of our Coilmasters or one of our punchers, our customers don't see us again until they buy their next machine. This saves clients the price of costly service contracts on machines that, in essence, are meant to break down."

Spiel Associates' Coilmaster III plastic coil binding system may make its debut at the Drupa exhibition in May. As for the previous generation machines, Spiel notes that they have been extremely well-received. "All of my customers who have the whole system save well more than 50 percent on their plastic," he says. "Anyone who does a fair amount of books will save enough on plastic alone to pay for the machine."

Spiel Associates has worked with customers to tweak the Coilmaster when needed. When the system couldn't handle a margin larger than the bridge, Spiel invented a spreading device that forces the coil to jump past a healthy sized margin.

"When we found that inferior coil was causing our machines to act slowly or to jam up, we created the first in-line system where the coil is formed prior to insertion," Spiel adds. "Many of our upgrades were done free in the field, until the point where we had to bring them in-house for the upgrade. Now, we're incorporating all of the upgrades into the newer models."
 

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