The Finishing Universe Is Larger Than You Think
Lots of print folk define finishing as a set of “traditional” bindery operations, such as folding, saddle stitching, perfect binding and a few more. But the finishing universe is a lot larger than many think. Beyond books, there is direct mail, retail and packaging, plus a host of other applications. Over the course of my career in finishing, I’ve been exposed to many diverse applications and systems.
One of the most interesting products in finishing is the friction feeder. Based on the principles of static and kinetic friction, friction feeders have many advantages over the sheet suction feeders used in both press and bindery.
- They are relatively low cost. No pumps needed.
- They can feed bulky or odd-shaped material.
- They can operate at extremely high speeds for extended periods.
And with the application of servo technology, friction feeders can apply a wide variety of odd-shaped products precisely where they are meant to be, and at high speeds. This is why you will see them in wide use in high-speed folder-gluers, in direct mail and in applications that require precisely counted sets of products to be dispensed.
It’s a relatively simple technology, but it has been the starting point for many vendors, who assemble a variety of systems using the technology, from simple mail bases, to extremely complex lines capable of executing a multitude of in-line operations. Being on a number of finishing vendor email lists, I get system emails all the time. A few weeks ago, I received one from Pineberry Manufacturing, which is a Canadian firm that manufactures diverse systems using their friction feeders as the “base” component.
This video shows an application for a nail polish strip manufacturer in which the Pineberry system affixes nail polish appliques, nail prep/alcohol pads and nail files to a carrier. The system buckle folds, plow folds, rotates the carrier, employs several glue heads, prints UPC codes on the carrier, dries the ink and uses a vision inspection system to verify correct package assembly and UPC coding. In short, there is a LOT going on here, and the video is really interesting. The creativity of these finishing systems designers is on full display. Enjoy, and my wishes to all of you for a joyous holiday season!
Don has worked in technical support, sales, engineering, and management during a career in both the commercial offset and digital finishing sectors. He is the North American representative for IBIS Bindery Systems, Ltd. of The United Kingdom.