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Flexible folders

Jul 1, 2008 12:00 AM

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Your standard-issue folder could be a print finishing jack-of-all-trades. Equipment manufacturers are improving the modularity of these machines, adding automation features and updating the available accessories. With these new capabilities, operators can streamline the production of standard jobs and tackle work they couldn't do in the past.

“Folders have to be increasingly versatile to justify an investment. Speed and quality are a given, so other uses are required to make the most of the equipment available,” says Joe Niehueser, Stahlfolder product manager, Heidelberg USA (Kennesaw, GA).

Current folder models can be set up to perform gatefolding, gluing, strike perforating, scoring and trimming applications. Niehueser notes, “With constant improvements, these technologies have become easier to use.”

But, can you produce more complicated jobs efficiently using a folder? Niehueser offers a few applications that can improve a folder's versatility and add to your portfolio of available formats.

Backup plans

A reversing buckle plate can add a new dimension to a standard folder. “Similar to a gatefold plate, [it] operates with a controller — in fact, it can be the same controller used for gate folding and also requires compressed air for rapid action,” says Niehueser. “This plate acts like a perfecting device, meaning it turns and reverses the sheet in a folding unit.”

Combination folders are another opportunity for new applications using a reversing buckle plate. “A typical combination folder equipped with a crossfold, single buckle plate and second crossfold can be used to create an up or down fold and maintain parallel folding capabilities,” Niehueser explains.

Do more in one pass

At Drupa, Heidelberg launched the Stahlfolder KH 82 combi folder with a new reversing buckle plate in the automated crossfold units, which enables it to execute more folds. Crossfold unit setup takes up to 80 percent less time than on its predecessor, the KH 78, depending on the automation options. The KH 82 runs at up to 754.59 fpm (230 m/min.) with servodriven folding knives and a new sheet guide that provides continuous stops and turbo wheels at the leading and trailing edges as well as the side of the sheet.

The first and second crossfold units have a standard slitter shaft carriage that can be pulled out for access to the rear-mounted slitter shafts. Optional sheet ejection in the crossfold units prevents jams. Slitter shafts can be added before and after the parallel fold unit. At Drupa, Heidelberg demonstrated a KH 82 with the automated gatefold attachment and Speedbander.

Punch it up

Adding an inline punch to a folding line enables the operator to create effects that mimic diecutting, using a steel band punch form.

Niehueser describes a mailpiece that is folded, strike-perforated and then punched into a creative shape — all in one pass. “The form punch works very similar to diecutting, but without unsightly nicks,” he explains. “[These pieces] routinely incorporate a return or secondary use device — a mock credit card, magnet or product sample — anything that can be mailed at low cost and still look good.”

Bonus booklets

“Here is a new use for that mobile knife unit of yours,” says Niehueser. Already used to produce signatures and refolds after a stitcher, he explains that these units also can produce small booklets.

“A typical booklet requires a single-line cold glue application, segmented fold rollers and buckle plate infeed, plus a knife shaft and slitting tools in the mobile knife unit to trim off the excess at head and foot.”

Circle 170 or visit

Efficiency innovation

MBO's (Westampton, NJ) Micro perforator enables inline perfing in sizes ranging from 125 to 370 teeth. The Super Score slitter-shaft accessory enables male and female channel scoring inline on MBO folders. An MWK retractable slitter shaft cassette slides out for easy adjustment. MBO offers deflectors for its H+H units to help guide sheets from the first roller to deflect under the slitter shaft, preventing cracks on coated cover stocks.

MBO backed up its Drupa theme, “Speed up your business,” with the introduction of two new buckle folding machines into the Efficiency series. A basic and an automated version of the 21-inch T 535 folder are now available with numerous customization options.

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Two ways to double output

Technifold's (Montague, NJ) Multi-Tool and Fast-Fit Tri-Creaser allow operators to fold and trim cover stocks or multipanel brochures 2- or 3-up on a folder. At Drupa, Technifold introduced the next generation designed to provide more flexibility and faster turnarounds in nearly any size postpress operation.

The Multi-Tool Combo Package combines cutting, perfing and creasing in one tool and is available in seven formats:

  • Microperforate and trim from 3/16 inch (5mm) apart
  • Slit and crease from ⅜ inch (10mm) apart
  • Double cut from ⅛ inch (3mm) apart
  • Edge trim
  • Double microperforate from ⅛ inch (3mm) apart
  • Single crease
  • Microperforate and crease from 3/16 inch (5mm) apart

The Fast-Fit evolved from the EZ-Fit Tri-Creaser. Fast-Fit eliminates the need to pull slitter shafts to change crease settings. It retains the Tri-Creaser design features to eliminate cracking on a wide range of paper, regardless of grain direction.

Circle 172 or visit

Modularity on wheels

Baum's (Sidney, OH) new K20 compact, mobile knife folder unit can be added to many different postpress lines, including floor-model folders. It has an independent drive and sealed ball bearings for durability. The folding knife can operate from the top down or from the bottom up, and finished product can exit to the right or left using the reversible belt.

Baum's mobile independent transfer conveyor units (MILT is the left-hand version; MIRT is the right) can help with several folding applications. They can transport booklets from a stitcher to a K20 knife folder, which makes a fold parallel to the spine, for jobs requiring a smaller flat size to achieve postal discounts.

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Digital creaser

Graphic Whizard (Burlington, Ontario, Canada) has paired its CreaseMaster with the Baum 714 folder to create a combined creasing and folding solution for the digital marketplace. It impact scores material prior to folding, eliminating the problem of toner cracking. The line offers run speeds up to 8,000 sph and different die sizes to accommodate various stock weights.

CreaseMaster comes standard with Graphic Whizard's friction feed; CreaseMaster Pro uses a streamfed by hand system; CreaseMaster PLUS uses the company's “digital-friendly” horizontal air/suction feed.

Circle 174 or visit

Do more on a cutter/creaser

Duplo (Santa Ana, CA) unveiled the DC-645 slitter/cutter/creaser with a new knife folder, which also was shown in the Xerox stand at Drupa. The knife folding option extends its inline capabilities for applications such as greeting cards, folded “tent” business cards and brochures.

The knife folder incorporates two knife folds, making it useful for parallel fold applications such as letter folds. With a speed of up to 50 sheets/min., the new folder fully matches the capabilities of the DC-645 — it can slit, cut, and crease a variety of full-bleed applications in a single pass at up to 26 sheets/min. — and can be bypassed for no-fold applications.

The smaller DC-615 was demonstrated in the Océ stand at Drupa, finishing short runs of sequentially printed, personalized sheets. Ultimate Technographics demonstrated the DC-615 with an inspection camera and the latest release of Impostrip On Demand Digital, which enable the machine to read job-critical information before finishing and adjust for image drift on every sheet.

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Flexible creaser/folder

Morgana's DigiFold offers options including crease blade removal tools, a landscape paper guide, perforating blades and a narrow sheet extension sidelay. The system combines the functions of creasing and folding in a single unit. Targeted toward the print-on-demand market, the automated, suction-fed folder runs at 1,500 sph, using a creasing rule and matrix to crease material prior to folding. A “flying knife” gently pushes the material between the large-diameter fold rollers, reducing marking and scratching on the finished work.

Morgana also offers the DocuMaster, a complete finishing system that offers feeding, creasing, folding and high-quality bookletmaking in one machine. Producing up to 1,440 books per hour, its options include a Bookmaster staple cartridge and a range of perforating blades.

Circle 176 or visit

One-off books on the fly

Drupa 2008 marked the single largest exhibit of Standard Hunkeler products, with paper handling solutions shown in eight different halls with 14 partners.

Océ ran the new Standard Hunkeler FlyFolder with its VarioStream 8750 to produce books inline. The FlyFolder features inline perforation, cut length and plow folding, allowing customers to produce single-edition books in different formats from a continuous web with changeovers performed on the fly.

Océ, Screen and HP featured the new Standard Hunkeler DC7 Drum Collator. It can be used inline or offline with a folder to produce digital color newspapers in broadsheet or tabloid format, or for direct mail applications.

Smart folding

Every machine on Horizon Intl.'s Drupa stand was connected to the i2i Bindery Control System, enabling automated setup, job tracking, error reports, and productivity and work-in-progress statistics. The company debuted new folders and accessories:

  • The AF-406T6A small-format (15.7 × 25.6-inch max.) six-buckle folder with pile feed and suction head has an optional second six-buckle unit that can be added straight or crosswise.

  • The AF-566F six-buckle folder accepts sheets up to 21.9 × 33.4 inches, includes a pile feeder with suction head, and has an optional second four-buckle unit that can be added straight or crosswise.

  • The CCD-AFC/CCD-AF camera options for AFC folders enable sheet-by-sheet verification reading from the top and/or bottom.

Standard Finishing Systems (Andover, MA) supplies Hunkeler and Horizon products in North America.

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Denise Kapel is managing editor of AMERICAN PRINTER. Contact her at

Find it online

Read “Speed, accuracy & innovation,” May 2008, for more information about the latest folders and other Drupa 2008 postpress debuts. See