Bindery Blog

Thoughts about the graphic arts industry and the world at large.

Crimping My Style

Bad Coil Book Composite

Sri Pra Phai is my favorite Thai restaurant. It has two locations in New York and thankfully, one is near my office. It has a very extensive menu. It is, however, poorly bound. Plastic Coil Binding requires a good crimp so that the coil does not spin out of the book. I often spun coil out of the book at The Cheesecake Factory since their books have been traditionally poorly bound as well.

Here you see that the plastic coil is not cut or crimped at all, much less at a ninety degree angle as it should be and as shown in the composite above. A good cut and crimp is possible using crimping pliers but an automatic plastic spiral binder offers better cutting and crimping. You can also buy an automatic cutter/crimper if inserting the plastic coil manually.

What else is wrong with this picture? The holes are square—not round. Round or oval holes are the proper shape for Plastic Spiral Binding. Square holes are the proper shape when using a wire binding machine. The printer, or bindery probably does not own a round hole die or an oval hole die, so they used a wire-o die. Furthermore, a book of this thickness should be using a four to the inch pitch—not a three to the inch pitch. But again, the printer or bindery probably did not have a four to the inch die for their paper punching machine. Also, notice that the last hole on the right is empty, missing a loop of coil.

It is much harder to make delicious food than to bind a decent book. It’s a shame that such a good restaurant has such a poor menu.

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This Calendar Is All Thumbs

Bad Calendar 2

What’s wrong with this picture? My daughter recently purchased a calendar for her friend (meaning I purchased it) and showed it to me when she received it in the mail. My kids always make fun of me when I look at the binding of the book before opening it. Here there was something interesting.

This is punched with a “thumb cut” for calendars with hangers. This is more popular in Europe than it is here in The US. Most of our calendars have a round “hanger hole” at the opposite end of the binding edge. Parenthetically we sell the only paper punching machine that can punch the hanger hole simultaneously with the binding edge. We have sold The Sterling Punchmaster to many printers who for work for Shutterfly. Please see The Sterling Punchmaster video under New Equipment, Punching Equipment above.

Normally one would purchase a 3:1 square hole, wire die with a thumb cut but that means doubling up on dies. You would also need a normal 3:1 die to punch books without a thumb cut. An economical option is to punch a thumb cut calendar is to purchase a 3:1 wire die and a separate thumb cut die. But here is the rub: You need to open the 3:1 die and pull out the center 3 or 4 pins to make room for the thumb cut pattern.

Here the printer did one of two things wrong. Either they are using a die where the pins cannot be pulled or they just didn’t bother pulling them out. The latter is most likely because even economical, table top punches like The PDI Rhino punches use dies where the pins can be pulled. This would have prevented a book that doesn’t look so good. Also, it is industry practice for the closed wire to be between the last page of the book and the rear cover.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post them.

By the way, my daughter’s friend still likes the calendar. I didn’t have the heart to point this out to her. I that hope she doesn’t read this blog.

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Obamacare and Business

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Many businessmen lean Republican and detest government spending on social programs but should they?

I sell machinery that is built in Asia, Europe, and yes, The United States. I compete with manufacturers of bindery equipment made overseas. My company, and my vendors, contribute greatly to the cost of our employees’ health benefits, not only because it is the right thing to do, but to attract the best people we can. Most employees expect benefits, do they not? Yet my overseas competitors do not have to contribute anything to their employees’ health care. Their government foots the bill. This makes my machines more costly and my company less competitive. We should remember that General Motors spends more money on health insurance than on steel. How competitive would their pricing be if the government picked up the tab on their health care?

Now let’s look at ObamaCare. According to a fascinating editorial in the “left wing” newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, by Annie Lamont and Ezekiel J. Emmanual, America's CEOs might not admit it in public, but the Affordable Care Act- aka ObamaCare-- has been good for business.” They go on to say; “To take a single benchmark, look at families who receive insurance coverage through an employer. Between 2001 and 2008, their average premium jumped nearly 80%, according to annual survey data from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust. Under President Obama, the increase was only 36%. This represents real money: If the Bush-era rate of inflation had continued through 2016, each of these families would be spending about $5,000 more on annual premiums.”

Now how much of this would have had to been paid out by employers, job creators, or masters of the universe? A hefty percentage, and in many cases, all of it.

Other points include how investment in medicine has boomed and that repealing The Affordable Care Act would cause uncertainty in the marketplace, volatility, and a certain return to higher inflation of health care costs. All of us businessmen like this kind of thing, right?

Furthermore repealing The ACA would result in cost shifting, or shafting more like.  When the newly uninsured do not have coverage, they will still show up at the emergency room and when they cannot pay, these costs will be paid by higher premiums for you and me.

“The Affordable Care Act has helped minimize this cost shifting. Specifically, the law's expansion of Medicaid cut hospitals' uncompensated care by roughly a third from 2013 to 2014, according to a study in Health Affairs. At the University of Pennsylvania Health System, bad debt--the accounting term for bills that are written off when patients can't pay them-- decreased from 6.1% of revenue in 2014 to 3.9% last year. Taken nationally, a drop that size is worth nearly $25 billion a year.”

As to ObamaCare’s “skyrocketing premiums,” this only applies to a small fraction of Americans who have purchased their own individual policies. There are about 10 million people in the Obamacare markets out of the 270 million Americans under 65 who have health insurance. While I feel for them, I hardly think scuttling such a business friendly program is in the best interest of our economy.

“If only CEOs would say as much before it is too late.”

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Binders, Printers, and Businessmen

When asked, every man thinks he’s a good driver and good in bed. But there must be some that are better than others, right?Assembly Line

My father did a lot of business with a bindery owner who would buy a machine for a particular job and then sell it back to my Dad. Sometimes the same machine would change hands a few times. He didn’t care, the cost of the machine was built into the job and no matter how much he spent, sending out the job would have cost more.

One bindery owner I know is a very savvy businessman. You walk into his shop and you see fairly new equipment, well maintained and clean. Another bindery owner in the same area has a shop with, let’s say, less than optimal equipment. He has a Sickinger wire binder that is about 25 years old. The problem is that it is a very slow wire binder. It produces about 200 books per hour. Almost every other wire binder on the market can double or triple this output, but let’s just say double. So if he averages 100,000 books per year, he could have saved over 200 man hours (assuming he uses two people including material handling) per year he would have saved at least 3,000 man hours in the past fifteen years. If he pays his people $15 per hour, he would have saved a minimum of $45,000. This doesn’t count insurance, workman’s comp, or overhead. So how much did he save by having a less than Sterling Wire Binding Machine in the long run?

I once told a bindery owner in California that if he made his own plastic coil he would save $100,000 per year and the machine at that time only cost $28,000. His reply to me was; “I’m not so much interested in saving money as making money.”

Even though times are tough right now I hear about companies outsourcing hundreds of thousands of dollars in binding services per year when they can bring the machinery in to do it in-house for less than $100,000. There are also may printers and binders binding their work manually. Does this make sense in an age where other manufacturers are using robotics?

New bindery systems are light-years faster and more efficient than older ones, and they can produce both high-quality, long- and short-run work with much less labor.

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Everything You Should Know About Buying Used Bindery Equipment

The printing industry remains one of the largest in the world, even in these digital times. It easily rivals the auto manufacturing industry by size and is more than eight times larger than the video game sector. What does that mean for you?

There is a lot of new and used bindery equipment out there, from perfect binders to coil binding machines to automatic wire binders. Though printers may come and go, the industry itself remains strong, leaving a lot of perfectly good used equipment out there on the market.

At Spiel Associates, we sell used bindery equipment as well as new machines, because we believe that the right tools will differ depending on your needs and situation. Sometimes it can be better and more cost-efficient to purchase a used automatic paper punching machine instead of new, while other times you want only the newest, perfect binding machine for your production. Here's what you should know about exactly when and why to buy used bindery equipment over new.

Most of the used binding equipment we sell is classified as "reconditioned," meaning that it has been inspected, worn parts replaced, repaired, cleaned, and sometimes repainted. All "reconditioned" equipment comes with a warranty that guarantees it will work the way it should.

Used equipment that is marketed as "As is" or "Good running" may be usable, but it may not offer the lasting quality you need to have it up and running from the start. But if you require repairs, parts, or supplies, Spiel Associates can also help you out there, too.

On the other hand, a "Rebuilt" used machine means that every moving part has been replaced. Every nut, bolt, bushing, and bearing has been examined, and the entire machine has been stripped down, inspected, and quite literally reconstructed from scratch. Most of our used collators can be classified as "rebuilt." These machines also come with a warranty that guarantees your equipment will work just like new, without the price tag of a new machine itself.

Whether you're looking for a collator, paper punch, or automatic wire binder, it may be worth your while to browse our available selection of reconditioned and rebuilt equipment before you buy new. In an industry that's thrived for hundreds of years, it's not so much the age of the equipment that matters as the sum and quality of its parts.

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Improve Your Life By Reading Every Day

Every year in the U.S., approximately 9.2 billion tons of paper are used. One of the main reasons this much paper is used is the continual production of books. Reading can truly do wonders for individual people, groups and organizations.

In today's smartphone-obsessed society, it may not seem as though old-fashioned reading may hold much appeal, but there are still plenty of readers out there who are lifelong learners and who want to explore the world through books on paper.

Strengthen Your Brain

Numerous studies have shown that staying mentally stimulated through reading can actually strengthen your brain's cognitive abilities. It can even possibly slow the progress of Alzheimer's disease, as well. The brain, though more complex, is just like any other muscle in the human body. If it's regularly worked out, it will become healthier, stronger, and more efficient. Along with reading, doing mental puzzles can also have cognitive stimulation benefits.

Reduce Stress

Although life can be extremely stressful and overwhelming, if you regularly sit down and read a compelling story you will, at least for the moment, be free from your stresses. Doing this will calm you even after you've finished reading for the night and you won't be worried as much about the things in your life that you cannot control.

Improve Your Writing and Vocabulary Skills

You'll easily learn more words if you read each day. And after continually reading how other people write, you will learn how to write better as a result. The more exposure you have to well written stories, the more beneficial the effect on your own writing style. You'll improve your fluidity, cadence, dialogue, and style if you continue to read and build your own literary repertoire.

If you're in need of any type of binder for your very own work, the best thing you can do is to contact a company that offers bindery equipment. Spiel Associates can assist you with any binding project with their perfect binding machines, wire binding machines, and automatic paper punching machines. Contact Spiel Associates today to learn more about their bindery equipment.

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Mechanical Binding: The Difference Between Double Loop Wire, Coil, and Spiral Binding

Depending on the automatic binding machine you purchase, you can bind anywhere from 300 to 4,000 books per hour. But how do you decide if you need a coil binding machine or automatic wire binder? What are the differences between these types of bindings anyway?

It's likely that you've seen these types of bindings on instruction manuals or reports. While many companies have made the switch to exclusively online content, print is still a massive industry and, in fact, users find print to be 59% more engaging than online-only sources.

The types of mechanical  binding machines that companies use are largely dependent on their page numbers and distributions. When it comes to finding the right type of binder, you need to know the difference between each.

So, first things first: With either plastic or metal, there is a specific finished look that a producer may want depending on the type of publication they are binding.

Plastic coils come in a wider variety of colors, but some printers believe wire binders create a more professional look.

What Is Double Loop Binding?

Double loop binding uses exclusively metal wiring, which many believe looks classier. These types of bindings are used most often for formal reports and the like.

Two loops pass through each hole, as the namesake suggests, and can take a lot less time to coil, if fully automatic machinery is used. With the help of the right machines, double loop booklets can be rapidly produced for massive audiences. If you need to print tens of thousands of books per hour, this can be a major advantage.

Spiral Binding


The only difference between spiral binding and coil binding (sometimes called plastic spiral), is the material. Spiral binding refers to metal spiral rather than plastic. This is a type of binding that is becoming more and more rare each day. Automatic coil binding machines can bind books much faster than the old fashioned spiral binders. Spiral binders cannot feed plastic and vice versa. Plastic coil gives you far more options for colors.

Although it can take longer, coil binding is much more durable and lasts longer than double loop binding, even if it doesn't look as sharp to some printers. Using an automatic coil binder is much more useful, however, for more heavy-use items like notebooks, catalogs, or any other booklet that you would use on a regular basis.

Regardless, either binding method has its place and can be used to make a sleek, functional booklet. When producing a high number of booklets on a regular basis, it is economical to purchase a wire or coil binding machine for on-site production, to make the binding process go much more smoothly.

If you have any more questions about our wire or coil binding machines, contact us today and let us know how we can help!

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Don't Buy Binding Machines Without Reading This First

When you run a book printing or binding operation, you have to think a lot about the machinery and materials you plan on using, to say nothing of the actual content that you are printing.

Whether you are printing technical manuals or calendars, the way that the information is presented is vitally important to the customer experience. It's no wonder things are looking up for the print industry, with shipments up more than $2.2 billion compared to 2014. But if you plan to bring printing and binding operations in-house, it is in your best interests (for both your reputation and profit margin) to use only materials and machines that run as efficiently as possible.

Check out some of the questions you should be asking yourself before you buy new or used perfect binding machines, wire binding machines, or paper punching machines:


How Thick are Your Binding Projects?

Different materials and bindery equipment are required depending on the thickness of your books. It is important to take into consideration what size and volume your projects will be. If your books are thicker than 25 sheets stitching (or stapling) is not an option. For instance, if you're producing novels, you'll need perfect binding machines, while instruction booklets or cook books may require coil binding.

Are Your Projects Standard or Unique?

It is also important to take into consideration exactly what kind of projects you will be working on. If you print the same sort of booklets or packages over and over again, you won't have to prepare for as much deviation from standard procedures as if you were doing special projects frequently.

Some binding equipment is extremely versatile and can switch gears at the touch of a button, while others require a good deal of set up time. If you have any specific questions about the benefits of perfect binding machines, contact us to learn more.


What Is Your Price Range?

As always, when buying expensive machinery, it is important to know your budget. You may want to investigate the possibility of buying used machines and other supplies if possible before picking out the best binding machine.


Do You Need Other Materials?

Don't forget to include raw materials like glue and coils into your budget. Machines like automatic coil binders may be important to your operation, but there are more materials you will need for your general printing operation. Make sure to factor these into your overall business plan.


Can You Fit Your Machine In Your Production Area?

Of course, your automatic binding machines won't do you much good unless you know it will fit into the space you have allotted for it.

With the right preparation -- and the right equipment! -- You will be able to run a very successful and efficient printing and binding operation.




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The Death of Regional Shows

I used to love regional shows, The Charlotte Show, The Texas Shows, Gutenberg, and the only one left—Miami. They are generally more relaxed than the cauldron of McCormick Place. Setup and break down was certainly easier. I miss swimming in the pool at the hotel at Gutenberg and the Cajun food at the Charlotte and Texas shows.

Why did they die? The answer is a chicken and egg problem. Low turnout caused less exhibitors to show their wares but which came first? I remember visiting customers in southern California and attempting to get them down to the show. Few did. I venture to guess that the closer a bindery or printer’s facility was to the show site, the less likely they would show up.

Some say the best solution is to rotate Graph Expo to different locations every other year like this year's show in Orlando. Then printers could have brought their families to Disney World or Universal, and attend the show for a day or two. Then after I sold all the machines in my booth I declared; “I’m going to Disney World!” Food for thought.

The jury is still out though as many exhibitors prefer to exhibit in Chicago.

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4 Essential Machines For Handbook Production

paper punching machineWhen e-readers and tablets first came on the scene, many early adopters prematurely declared that print was dead. There was just one problem: books are one of the most perfect inventions in the history of mankind. And that's as true today as it was in the time of the Gutenberg Press. Of course, some things have changed; rather than printing presses, modern bookmakers rely on tools like binding equipment, paper punching machines, and wire binders.

Print is one of the largest industries worldwide. It is eight times larger than the video game industry and significantly larger than auto manufacturing as well. This is likely because print comes into play within most of these industries. Instructional handbooks are important for a variety of reasons. Many industries provide stapled paper booklets in lieu of real handbooks. While it's not necessary to create a leather-bound masterpiece for simple instruction or employee guidelines, a well-bound, laminated handbook is absolutely suitable and practical, as it stands up to wear, tear, coffee stains, and won't lose pages between reads.

Here are four essential machines that are necessary to produce well-made handbooks that stand the tests of time:

Of course, there's no handbook without a printer. Industrial printers can produce double-sided pages quickly and with ease. Companies that include instructions for use or assembly in their products need to turn out a whole handbook for each product, which means that the pages need to be printed out in massive quantities. Printers often become jammed, so make sure that you have a proper printer that can handle printing mass quantities of paper at once.

Laminators create wear-free finishes to all paper pages to be included in the handbook. The plastic coatings stand up to many views and flips and will not bend or become stained. Laminating the pages of your handbooks will keep them in good condition for future use and make them less likely to be lost in the shuffle.

Paper Punching Machine
Automatic paper punching machines are high-speed machines designed for short run binders, digital, and commercial printers. Some paper punching machines are capable of punching through tens of thousands of sheets of paper every hour, making an extremely efficient use of time and effort.

Coil Binding Machine
Coil binding machines are used to insert plastic coils into the punched holes, then crimp the ends of the coil. This prevents the coil from coming loose and unraveling the book's binding. Hundreds of books can be bound per hour using these machines, which makes it easy for commercial industries to mass-produce instructions to put in their product packaging, or turn out many copies of guidelines for employee use and reference.

By using all of these machines, it is possible to turn out high-quality instruction manuals and handbooks that will be easily referable by the owners of a company's products. For superior bindery equipment of all kinds, contact Spiel Associates, Inc.

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DIY: 4 Tips for Making Pinterest-Worthy Notebooks and Journals

Sites like Pinterest and Etsy are inspiring a new generation of Do It Yourself-ers, and many crafters are turning their hobbies into a means of income.

Journaling and sketching are very therapeutic for a lot of people. And while the real treasure is the personal work inside, having a beautiful, high-quality notebook cover does your work justice. If you love to make your own notebooks, journals, diaries, scrapbooks, sketchbooks, or just plain books, then you can create gorgeous DIY journals using a wire binding machine.

A wire binding machine is one of the best methods of binding a book, because the book lays flat without force, and the pages can be folded back onto themselves to keep other pages out of the way.

Here are some simple DIY steps to creating a professional looking book to sell or use on your own:

  1. First you need to know what kind of book you're going to make. How large do you want the book to be? What kind of material will it hold? For journaling, simple printer or specialty paper will do, but for scrapbooking, you will want larger sized pieces of heavy paper or cardstock that can hold up to the photographs that will be put inside of it.
  3. What orientation do you want the pages to be? Portrait or landscape? Vertical or horizontal? Or are your pages perfectly square? You may want to change the orientation of your pages depending on the type of book you're making. Wide, broad pages are more suitable for scrapbooks, but narrow, vertical pages can be great for small notebooks. You can also play with which side you want the book bindings to be on. Just be sure that your pages are set up well to accommodate an automatic paper punching machine. If there are designs on the pages, you may want to rethink how you want to set the bindings up.
  5. How many pages will the book be? For a blank book, it's hard to make that decision. But as the bookmaker, you need to know what size coils to buy and which setting to put the coil binding machine on. If this isn't taken into account, the binding either won't fit or will be too heavy for the book, causing friction. Using punch tools with near-polished flanks and a quarter degree back taper reduces the friction, increasing the life of the punch tool as well as the paper it punches.
  7. After the heavy planning comes the more fun things. What kind of colors do you want on the book? Do you want an envelope pocket in the front or back to hold bookmarks, mementos, or other pieces of paper? As the creator, you can do whatever you want!

In order to craft the perfect custom notebooks, you'll need a high-quality wire binding machine. Spiel Associates, Inc. has book binding equipment to accommodated DIY books of all sizes.

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