Bindery Blog

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

What Are You Up To?

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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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