Bindery Blog

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

He's Coming After Your Paper

Trump and Paper

I was happy to see that there will be no new tariffs on Chinese printing and bindery equipment. The only problem is that man in The White house is coming after your paper, that is, Canadian paper. Apparently our trade deficit with our neighbor to the north needs to be addressed:

Data from both countries say that the U.S. imports more goods from Canada than it exports – the U.S. says the goods trade deficit was $12.1 billion. Canada has complained that the U.S. Trade Representative is falsely inflating that number by counting goods that merely pass through Canada from other countries.

Either way, the trade imbalance with Canada –America’s second-largest trading partner – is nothing like the $55 billion trade deficit with Mexico, or the $385 billion deficit with China – America’s largest trading partner. The trade deficit with European Union nations was $92 million, according to the U.S. Trade Representative.

One American company, The North American Paper Company, or Norpac, which is owned by a hedge fund, petitioned the commerce department for this new tariff. “Among US paper producers, the company is conspicuously alone in its petition for protective tariffs,” according to Steve Forbes in The Wall Street Journal. “ The trade group that represents paper mills, The American Forest and Paper Association, opposes the tariffs. As do scores of newspapers, book publishers, and printers around the country. They are rightly concerned that is the paper they use becomes more expensive, they will be forced to print less.”

Great news isn’t it? It’s not bad enough we have to compete with computers, tablets, and phones, now we have to pay more for paper. Fortunately congress is fighting back (yes you heard that right!) A bipartisan group of senators (yes you heard that right!) have introduced a bill that would delay dumping tariffs countervailing duties currently being applied to imports of Canadian paper. It would suspend the import taxes of up to 32% on Canadian uncoated groundwood paper. Led by Susan Collins (R) and Angus King (I) of Maine, the bill is cosponsored by six Republicans and three Democrats.

Canada imports about as much from The US as it exports. What is the point of punishing a trading partner with a more or less neutral trade deficit? What incentive does this give to other countries to lower our trade deficit with them?

“What’s especially striking now is that even industries Trump claims he wants to help are protesting his policies,” explains Paul Krugman in The New York Times, “General Motors warns that proposed auto tariffs could lead to less investments, fewer jobs, and lower wages for our employees.”

Mr. President, please stop helping us.

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Read About a New Use For a Perfect Binding Machine

DB Brochure with Flat Spine 1

A few months ago I received a letter, not and e-mail, from an inventor who had designed a brochure with a flat spine. Enclosed was a brochure stapled to a 7/8 inch wide, 11 inch long piece of cover stock with printing on it. It was very unusual. I called the inventor, a Mr. Rodney Smith of Smith-Midland Corporation to see what it is that he wanted.

Rodney wanted us to invent a machine that would stitch these strips onto the spine of the brochures. He was not a printer but would purchase the machine for a printer who did work for him. I replied that this was a tremendous undertaking. How do you feed a 7/8 inch by 11 inch sheet to align with the spine of an sixteen page stitched booklet? It was also round cornered to boot.

I told Rodney that my father, Norton Spiel, would be calling him. My father, trained as an engineer loves solving bindery problems. In fact, I think he likes it more than selling machines. So here these two elderly gentlemen began talking.

My father came up with the brilliant idea of perfect binding the booklet onto the one inch wide sheet of cover stock. Yes, some small modifications had to be made and no, it would not operate at the speed that Rodney had requested. Still it was a lot faster than having an operator staple, and I do mean staple, each booklet twice. The operator was getting 60 booklets per hour. The purchase of a Sterling Digibinder perfect binding machine would allow him to bind 250 books per hour.

Rodney and Chris Hottle of Winchester Printers in Winchester, VA came up for a demo and was impressed with the machine. We disabled the nipping table and created a stop so that the 7/8 inch strip could be placed uniformly every time. The machine worked like a charm.

The machine was ordered and is now in operation, binding booklets as planned. Sometimes it takes an old hand to come up with new ideas. Thanks Dad.

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Bindery Innovation and Automation

A book a person made after learning about bindery innovation and automation

Learn About Bindery Innovation and Automation

My daughter was reading a book, “The New Geography of Jobs,” by Enrico Moretti in her globalization class in college. She sent me an excerpt which reads as follows:

“Every time a company generates jobs in the innovation sector, it also indirectly creates additional jobs in the non-traded sector in the same city.

To see how this multiplier effect works in practice, let me introduce you to a small-business owner named Tim. Tim is a bookbinder in San Francisco. His clients are mostly local residents and local businesses, so he is clearly part of the non-traded sector. He employs eight workers who bind books and do custom printing. His employees are good with their hands and tend to have low levels of education. If you visit his cavernous, neon-lit shop, the first things you notice are several beautiful old-style cutting and binding machines that dominate the floor. Bookbinding appears to be a very labor-intensive craft. The technology used in Tim’s shop has not changed much in the past thirty years.”

Tim’s company is a hand bindery. Making custom bindings has not changed much in the past 100 years. Perhaps the machines have improved somewhat but all of the work is the same as it always has been, going back to books of The Middle Ages. I would venture to guess that the technology used in Tim’ shop is the very same technology that was used 50 to 75 years ago.

This is quite understandable. But what if we are talking about a trade bindery? Can a trade bindery survive under such a business model? The answer is no. When a printer gets in a sizeable run of books that require a type of binding he does not currently offer, he goes out and buys the equipment. A trade bindery will tend to use what he has, which is often less that up to date equipment.

An owner of trade bindery recently sold his business to one of his customers and his accounts to another bindery. When I had visited his shop in 2000, I saw he was using manual, table top spiral binding equipment. I pointed out to him that the five girls binding the books were chatting and not really getting good production. He already had an automatic paper punching machine so all he needed was the binder. I offered him our Sterling Coilmaster plastic coil binding machine, which could bind up to 700 books per hour and equal or surpass the production. I sent him the video, which he did not look at and followed up with him for a period of five years, trying to convince him to automate. At times he professed that he was cheap and told us that when he was ready, he would call.

After he closed his doors, one of his customers, a publisher, called me explaining that his bindery had gone out of business and needed to bind over 100,000 books per year. He was looking to purchase equipment and was willing to purchase a paper punch an automatic plastic spiral binding machine. This was something the bindery was never willing to do—even though he had much more work. Not only did he bind this particular customer’s books by hand, he bound all of his other customers’ books that way.

When he sold his business, the bindery who bought his accounts was flabbergasted that he was still doing coil by hand. This bindery has up to date paper punching and coil binding equipment which he had purchased from our company.

Is it any wonder why one bindery is thriving and the other is out of business? This is a trend I have been seeing for a decade, and it shows little sign of changing.

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To PUR or not to PUR

DB PUR Plus 2

Binding Pur Books

At the next Print show, Spiel Associates will be debuting two new PUR Perfect Binders: The Sterling® Digibinder PUR and PUR Plus. This adds to our line of The Digibinder®, The Digibinder Plus, and The Digibinder Super, which we will also be debuting.

For those of you who do not know the difference between PUR and traditional perfect binding, the short answer is not much. Everything is the same except for the glue: Ordinary perfect binding machines use ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) adhesives, while PUR binders use polyurethane reactive (PUR) adhesive.

In the past, we have had remarkable success in binding any stock on our EVA Digibinders. Our customers have bound oil infused stock, stock with wax based ink, UV coated and aqueous coated stock. What we have had problems with mostly is very thick stock, such as 100 Lb. cover stock, when used as body copy. No perfect binders can bind this stock. So if you are using stock like this or very fancy photo stock, then you have no choice but to use a PUR Perfect Binder.

Yet our customers, more and more, have been requesting PUR machines. Some have said that their customers break the spine and the pages fall out—No kidding? My response is like the old joke: A man walks into a doctor’s office and says; “Doctor, it hurts when I do this.” The doctor replies; “Then don’t do that.” Where in the world can people think that they can break the binding of the book without the book falling apart?

While PUR is not indestructible, it is 50% - 70% stronger than ordinary EVA binding. It can bind stock even if the grain is in the wrong direction. It is much kinder to extreme temperatures. On the hot side, PUR has a 350°F peel failure, as compared with 165°F to 200°F for EVA glue. On the cold side, EVA can crack at 30°F PUR begins to crack at -20°F. I do suppose that considering climate change, PUR books will last much longer.

PUR uses a thinner glue application than EVA (10 to 12ml vs. 25 to 35ml per EVA). Less glue makes the binding more flexible, which allows the book to lay flat.

The downside to using PUR is that when the glue is exposed to moisture, it goes bad. PUR sucks moisture out of the air during the curing process. This takes a good 24 hours. You cannot reuse PUR glue and it goes bad after a few hours when sitting in an open glue pot. This spoilage is common and unavoidable. It is best to avoid open glue pots for this reason and for the labor intensive clean up at the shift’s end. Some manufacturers use a system that sprays a blanket of nitrogen over the glue pot area so as to keep the glue away from air. Still, cleaning up the glue pot can take up to 30 minutes. If a nitrogen system is not used, the glue can only be exposed to air for a few hours, then the pot must be cleaned, new glue put in, and melted. Also, the Teflon coating on the glue pots do not last for the life of the machine and must be recoated about every three years.

The Sterling Digibinder PUR and PUR Plus, uses a nozzle system with a closed tank. The glue is not exposed to air. The glue sprays out of the nozzle for each cycle. The machines can be run all day. There is a five minute clean up at the shifts end and at its beginning. But the glue in the tank may be continually used until it’s gone.

We have found that the nozzle system with a sealer glue tank is the most effective, economical, and user friendly system.

Books are still going strong. Let’s rejoice in the fact that despite recent technological advances, the majority of Americans are still reading books in print. According to Pew Research Center, as of 2016, 65% of Americans read a print book in the last year, which was more than double the share that read an e-book (28%) and more than four times the share that consumed content via audio book (14%).

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Book Manufacturer Speeds Up Their Wire Binding Tenfold

People learning how a book manufacturer speeds up wire binding

See How Book Manufacturer Speed Up Wire Binding

J.L. Darling has manufactured Rite in the Rain® notepads since 1916 in The Great Northwest. The founder, Jerry Darling created a market for notepads that could withstand rain and other poor weather conditions. Even if their notepads get wet, the ink does not run. They invented a proprietary, patented, archival quality substrate that will last a lifetime under normal use. JL Darling prefers wire because double loop wire binding offers a full 360 degree rotation for pages bound into a book.

Prior to the mid-nineties, they bound their Wire-O books on table top equipment. They then purchased, from Spiel Associates, a used Lhermite® automatic paper punch and a used Sickinger wire binding machine. They added a semi-automatic Rilecart® wire binder a few years later to keep up with their capacity, and then purchased a Sterling Punchmaster® automatic paper punch to replace their Lhermite.

Punching their paper is no easy feat. Due to the durability of the paper, they cannot punch as big a lift of sheets as they could with ordinary paper. They also sharpen their dies more frequently than other paper punching machine users.

While they produce different size books, their most popular size is 3” X 5”, perfect for an electrical linesman or an EMT to tuck in their breast pocket. Also, they have a “header” which has a sombrero hole acting as a peg hanger. The header size was 3” x 2”.

With their Rilecart wire binder, they bound, flipped covers, and boxed an average of 250 books per hour with two operators.

Throughout the years, demand for their product grew. Their capacity did not and they were forced to run multiple shifts to bind the books that they needed to ship. During that time I had tried to help them automate their wire binding. Aside from the cost of over $200,000 for an automatic wire binding machine, we had the problem of book size. While The Rilecart B-599 wire binder could be modified to handle the book size, there was no way it could handle the header size of 2” X 3”.

In 2014 Spiel introduced The Sterling® Wiremaster Pro. The selling price was half of what The Rilecart B599 was. This piqued their interest. . Furthermore, the machine needed no modification to handle their book size, but we still had a pesky 2” X 3” header to contend with. Their R & D Director, John Mattingly and I kicked around some ideas and we came up with the following: Make the header 3” X 3.75” and put a score in the middle. After the books were bound, the header was folded in half for easy hanging. We shot a demo video for them, which you could see here.

After purchasing the Sterling Wiremaster Pro, the fun began. At first they were binding, cover flipping, and boxing 2,700 books per hour. After riding the learning curve, they increased their production to 3,000 books per hour, which is the maximum cycling speed of the machine. They use three operators.

J.L. Darling books can be written upon in the rain, and their production now is right as rain.

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What Are You Up to Bindery Blog

Car Dashboard

Some time ago my brother sold a table top paper punching machine to one of his customers. The manufacturer claimed on the brochure that the machine could punch “up to 55 sheets or 110 pages of 20 pound (80 gsm) paper. The number of sheets depends on the paper weight and punch pattern used.” After doing some digging, welearned that the only punch pattern that could punch 55 sheets was three round holes. The customer was miffed, but should he have been?

When I started working here, and began to write brochures, the most important two words I learned was: “Up to.”

All manufacturers put maximum cycling speed on their brochures. This does NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT, PAPER. Sounds crazy doesn’t it? But it is not. Speaking of paper, print is 59% more engaging for users than online articles.

What other basis can a manufacturer claim? When was the last time you drove your car at 120 miles per hour? You can, but you don’t. You can probably even drive faster than 120 miles per hour, but not here in New York. Half the time I am happy with 30 miles per hour.

I spoke with the manager of a printer for a state government recently. He complained that I and my competitor weren’t being straight with him vis a vie our brochures. The Sterling Digipunch’s maximum cycle speed is 72 strokes per minute. With a maximum lift size of 17 sheets, that equals 73,440 sheets per hour. On our brochure of The Sterling Digipunch paper punching machine, we claim that you can punch up to 72,000 sheets per hour, my competitor claimed slightly higher. I used 72,000 because it’s a nice round (however meaningless) number, like 120 miles per hour. He asked if he would be able to punch this fast and I said no. When he asked why, I told him that different patterns will result in different output.

A paper punching machine has a maximum cycle speed, but that’s not the metric you should solely use. With a three hole die, as above, you can punch more sheets per lift than with a spiral die, or even worse, a GBC die. The Sterling Digipunch can punch between 3 and 17 sheets per lift. While you may be able to punch 17 sheets with a 3 hole die, you would never be able to do so with a wire-o die. Also, are covers intermixed, tabs, acetate?

Other metrics when judging the speed of an automatic paper punch is set up and paper handling time. Does the machine set up automatically with a computer or is the set up manual? With the Sterling Digipunch you can load five reams of paper in the feeder and accept five reams of paper in the stacker. One of my competitors sells a machine that can hold five reams of paper in the feeder but only three reams in the stacker. Then the stacker has to be offloaded, reset, the other two reams need to be punched and the stacker is offloaded and then the process starts all over again. What will that do to your output?

This gets much trickier with machines that require paper or books to be fed by an operator. When a customer asks me how fast our spiral binding machines are is I ask him how fast are your sneakers? Is the printer using a skilled operator or a temp? We have a video on YouTube entitled; “Plastic Spiral Binding Machine Binds 600 Books Per Hour.” We used a 4 X 6 art pad with 10mm plastic coil for this demo and bound 10 books in 60 seconds. So the machine CAN bind up to 600 books per hour. When we went to an 8.5 X 11” with a 10mm we were only able to bind nine books in 64 seconds, 500 books per hour. When we went to a 25mm book, we were only able to bind the equivalent of 333 books per hour.

When I speak with a customer I tell him to ignore the brochure and tell me about the job and his staff. Sometimes I will tell the customer he can expect 300 books per hour, sometimes, 400 books per hour, and sometimes even 500 books per hour.

I would never tell a customer he can bind 600 books per hour and I would never recommend driving 120 miles per hour, unless you are Vin Diesel.

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What the heck happened to Spiral Binding?

Bad Spiral Book

What Happened to Spiral Binding

Back when I started in this industry, spiral binding meant wire spiral binding. Today spiral binding means plastic coil binding. Why? Take a look at the picture above.

Wire spiral bound books damage very easily, not as much as a book bound on a double loop wire binding machine, but bad enough. Remember Rand McNally road atlases? They are still in business but I assume many of you are using GPS instead. They bound their books with spiral wire purposefully. Why? They would get destroyed and people would have to buy new ones. A recent visit to their web site has confirmed that they have switched over to plastic coil.

Back in them there days; plastic coil was not very popular. The only way to bind the books was to bind them by hand, starting off the first three loops manually, spinning them in with a roller machine, and then cutting and crimping using pliers. Usually an operator could do about 100 books per hour. If it was a thick book, it could be as little as 20. Take a look at the first few seconds of this video.

Wire spiral binding machines by comparison could yield about 300 books per hour. You would hang a book on pins and the wire spun through the book and was then crimped. Easy peasy, right? The only problem was the books looked cheap and was not good for school books or kids books. I had two girls so when they brought home a “Hello Kitty” book, it was always bound with plastic coil. Also, many states refused to allow books with spiral wire to be sold to schools because the spirals could be ripped from the book and be turned into a weapon.

Up until about five years ago, Sickinger and Freundlich Gomez built semi-automatic spiral binders. In fact, I still have a mint Sickinger PS517 Spiral Binder in stock. You can see a picture here. Bielomatik and Womaco still build automatic spiral binders that also punch in-line.

The only companies that still bind their books with spiral wire are manufacturers that bind many books and try to sell them as inexpensively as possible. After all, when was the last time you saw a wire spiral bound book?

This is the first in a series on the history of plastic coil binding. Stay tuned for the invention of automatic plastic coil binders, even though it is not printed on paper and that Print is 59% more engaging for users than online articles.

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What a BAT Would Mean For Printers and Binderies

Bat Tax

So what is a BAT? It is a border adjustment tax that will tax 20% off of anything that you buy that is imported. Take a look around your shop. How many pieces of printing or bindery equipment do you own that was built in The US, two, one, none? Now imagine that you had to pay 20% extra for these printing and binding machines?

Our new president wants to cut the corporate tax rate, which is the highest in the world. This is a noble goal to stop inversions and level the global playing field. But that money has to come from somewhere. It will come from you and anyone who buys anything. Now take a look around your office. What on your desk was built in this country?

Spiel Associates is one of the few graphic arts equipment companies that still builds bindery equipment in this country, most notably, automatic paper punching machines and plastic spiral binding machines. But we still have had to sell machinery built overseas. Our wire binding machines are built in Italy and China. Why? There are no wire binders being built in this country. As to perfect binding machines, there is one left, and we do sell it, but it is hardly competitive with perfect binders being built overseas.

How many digital print engines are built in this country?

At first glance I was against this. But I have changed my mind. Consider that every country in the world uses a VAT. The only exceptions are countries where the populace is too poor to pay taxes, and The US. A value added tax taxes everything a customer buys up and down the chain. If a paper company sells you paper, there is a VAT. That could amount to a lot considering the annual amount of paper used in the U.S. each year is 9,125,000,000 tons. If you print something on that paper, bind it, and sell it, there is a VAT. If a book store then sells the book, there is a VAT. It is very hard to avoid paying this tax, whether you are a drug dealer, a money launderer, or The President of The United States.

The Upshot has reported; “It looks like the holy grail of tax reform: It allows lowering tax rates without increasing the deficit, without creating powerful losers, and creating a more efficient economy for the long run.

But the very cleverness of the proposal — it is an idea that has been tossed around in academic circles for a decade but never adopted in any country — is what makes border adjustment so fraught.

Retailers, among others, are not confident that currency adjustments will happen the way economists predict, and are running advertisements warning that the “border adjustment tax” will tax “your car, your food, your gas, your medicine, your clothes.””

The rub with The BAT is that this only applies to imports and as it has been proposed, the import will only be charged once, at the border. It is then up to the wholesaler or retailer to pass that cost on to the consumer, and pass it along they will. I know I will.

This gives an advantage to manufacturers in The US, which I am all for. But don’t expect it to lower corporate for printers or binderies as much as The VAT does in other countries.

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Learn How To Crimp a Plastic Spiral Book

A guide on how to crimp a plastic spiral book

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

Bad Wire-O Binding

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

An image representing Obamacare and business

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

People who are buying used bindery equipment

Information 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

A book with our spiral bindingSpiral 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

A person's products after using our 4 tips for making notebooks and journals

4 Tips for Making 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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