Standard Horizon Blends Intelligence, Ergonomics and Speed in New Automated Folder

Standard Horizon AFC-746F automated folder.

Operating a folding machine—even an automated one—can be a pretty physical job. For example, removing heavy upper and lower tool shafts from a folder involves leaning, bending and lifting from uncomfortable angles, making it one of the most time-consuming, troublesome (and dangerous) changeover activities for an operator.

Horizon developed a simpler, safer and faster process with the innovative slitter-shaft removal system featured on its new AFC-746F automated folding machine. Here’s how it works: The operator releases the shaft using a quick-release lever. Then, an internal elevator lowers the shaft into a slide-out carriage, which presents the shaft on the operator side of the machine at an ergonomically comfortable and convenient height for removal. After all tools are fitted, the shaft is returned to the carriage tray, slid into the machine and automatically raised to the proper position for re-latching. It’s an ergonomically brilliant feature, and is currently exclusive to the AFC-746F.

The AFC-746F is Horizon’s entrée into larger format automated folding. “Horizon has set the pace in folder automation over the last decade and we now have a large, loyal customer base in the half-size press and digital print community,” states Mark Hunt, director of marketing for Standard Finishing Systems. “As larger presses are used for more short runs, those printers need folders that are quick and accurate to change over, so they can lower set-up labor costs and spoilage. It was a natural progression for Horizon to apply our advanced automation and folding expertise to the B1 format.”

As many of us know, most manual folders are well-suited to signature work, or other long-run applications, but are difficult and time consuming to changeover to different fold styles. But the new AFC-746F was built as an all-purpose, automated “workhorse” of a folder that can perform frequent changeovers per shift with little or no added labor cost or spoilage. You can break into a long run by saving all settings for the job in process, quickly changeover to the rush job settings, then instantly return to the previous settings and resume the long-run. This would be impossible or inefficient with a manual folder, where set-up time might take longer than job run-time itself.

Trish Witkowski is Chief Folding Fanatic at the online community She holds a bachelor of fine arts degree in graphic design and a master of science degree in Graphic Arts Publishing from Rochester Institute of Technology's School of Printing Management and Sciences (now the School of Print Media).

An award-winning designer, Trish held the position of creative director for a Baltimore-based agency for six years, and has taught design and desktop publishing at the college level. She has a specialized expertise in the area of folding and is the creator of the FOLDRite™ system, a 2004 GATF InterTech™ Technology Award winner.
Trish frequently publishes articles for graphic arts industry publications, and has written three books on the topic of folding: A Field Guide to Folding, Folding for the Graphic Arts: A Teacher's Handbook, and FOLD: The Professional's Guide to Folding.

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