Technifold’s Speedcreaser Offers Clever 2-Stage Auto Feeder

Classic configuration of a friction feeder.

Technifold’s Speedcreaser machine with 2-Stage Auto Feeder.

Technifold has implemented a new, low-tech twist on the auto feeder that delivers the next best thing to an air-fed mechanism—all at a fraction of the cost.

The classic configuration of a friction feeder consists of a pair of rollers, usually rubber, one fixed and one turning which will separate and feed a small pile or stream of sheets into any number of printing or print finishing machines (see image 1). This means a tremendous amount of pressure is placed on a small surface area of the sheet at a single point of contact. The gap between rollers must be tight enough to prevent a double sheet, but with enough pressure to drive the sheet through this tight spot, which may require frequent adjustments.

This style of feeder is known for marking coated sheets and often requires frequent cleaning to remove ink and dust buildup. The advantages, however, are that it’s fast, simple to manufacture and inexpensive—no air pumps or high-tech controls are needed for a basic version.

What’s exciting about the 2-Stage Auto Feeder (see image 2) found on Technifold’s Speedcreaser machine, is that a clever engineering trick has nearly eliminated the negatives by splitting up the workload into two sets of rollers. Starting with a fanned-out lift of sheets, the “pre-feed” roller gently separates and advances the top sheets forward. The final infeed rollers drive it into the machine and prevent double sheets from entering.

With a wider and softer pre-feed roller, the pressure needed to move the sheet is distributed over a much larger surface area. When the sheet hits the final infeed roller it is already in motion, so the infeed roller needs to exert very little force to move the sheet into the machine. Typically, the pressure setting here is a very light drag, (or even no drag) as opposed to the high drag commonly used in single-stage versions.

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Trish Witkowski is Chief Folding Fanatic at foldfactory.com, and president of Rock the Mailbox. An educator, author, speaker and award-winning designer, Trish has a specialized expertise in creative solutions for direct mail and marketing, and is the curator of the world's most exciting collection of folded print and direct mail samples. Trish is the creator of the FOLDRite folding template system, and has authored many resources, most recently Direct Mail Simplified, and Paper Folding Templates for Print Design. She also hosts a popular weekly e-video series "60-second Super-cool FOLD of the WEEK", and is an instructor at Lynda.com. Trish holds a MS in Printing and a BFA in Graphic Design from RIT.
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