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Keeping score

Sep 1, 2007 12:00 AM

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Remember Dan Aykroyd's Bass-o-Matic sketch on “Saturday Night Live”? “It comes with 10 interchangeable rotors, a nine-month guarantee, and a booklet,” Aykroyd promised in the breathless tradition of pitchman Ron Popeil. “You'll never have to scale, cut or gut again!”

The inline options offered for scoring, perfing and cutting on folders and other finishing devices don't quite dice, slice or chop, but they do offer improved efficiency — in some cases, users can boost the productivity of existing equipment while reducing outsourcing costs.

In this article, we've highlighted some interesting developments for offset printers. It should be noted that digital solutions also have mushroomed. As noted in previous articles, Morgana offers special creasers and folders, as do Baumfolder, Standard Horizon and MGI. Duplo and Rollem also offer several multifunction machines designed for the digital market.

Innovative attachments

Technifold USA (Montague, NJ) offers several add-on devices that enable inline scoring on folders and scoring equipment and even perfect binders and saddlestitchers. The Tri-Creaser reportedly delivers letterpress-like scoring, while the Micro Perforator produces die quality microperforations. The Multi Tool's claim to fame is slitting and double-cut trimming, reportedly on par with a guillotine cutter. For those looking to add inline scoring on a saddlestitcher or a perfect binder, Technifold's Spine Creaser is an option.

Andre Palko, president, Technifold USA, says the company specializes in delivering “extraordinary results from ordinary tools.”

“With the Tricreaser, we use a rubber formulation [for the creasing ring] that actually does the scoring,” says Palko. “This particular combination of rubber, working against the steel, works on all kinds of material — digital or offset — regardless of grain direction.” The Tricreaser's creasing ring stretches paper fibers, reportedly eliminating spine cracking problems.

The Micro Perforator lets users perf sheets on their folders that will run through laser printers, color copiers and digital presses. “You can't do that with conventional [inline] tools,” claims Palko. “The [perfs are] much too coarse.”

The Multi Tool could double the productivity for certain applications. Palko explains that the knife design enables operators to run two-up multiple-panel folding jobs on thick cover stocks.

Technifold's customers range from mom-and-pop copy shops to multinational printing companies. Typical users are small or midsize commercial printers that already own a folder or scoring machine.

For small shops and digital printers, Technifold recently debuted a tabletop creaser that can be outfitted with the previously described accessories. “We also have larger companies [using the tabletop machine] to segregate their digital work from their long-run offset workflow.”

While best known for its folder and scoring accessories, Technifold also makes creasing devices for a variety of web presses. “Most of these are custom made,” says Palko. “But, we do make them for a lot of the popular web presses on the market. We have two or three types of creasing devices that we install in the folding section.”


Avoiding the alligator effect

MBO (Westampton, NJ) national manager Dave Trutzenbach says one thing can be said of any inline or offline scoring solution: “They all work, and none of them work.” He explains the success rate largely depends on the paper, so MBO builds features designed to tackle challenging substrates into its equipment.

“The hardest job is aqueous or UV coating on a cover stock. There's no moisture [because of the heat used to cure the ink]. It's like trying to bend a piece of wood.” Thick substrates also pose challenges. “With thick material, you might get what's called alligator skinning. That's where you're pushing a thick stock through the folder against the grain. It's like trying to fold a matchstick around a fold roller — it just won't bend. Well, it does bend, but you're left with all these minute cracks over the surface.”

To counteract this problem, MBO offers what it calls “greeting card deflectors.” According to Trutzenbach, “The sheet comes out of the No. 1 roller and deflects right under the slitter shaft.”

MBO's H+H units, which Trutzenbach describes as “like an eight-page unit without any plates,” can tackle practically any creasing, scoring and perfing application. “You can do anything on that,” he says.

What the fashionable folders are wearing

MBO also offers the following accessories:

  • “Super score,” a slitter-shaft accessory for scoring inline on MBO folders. Similar to a press score, Super score is configured as a male- and female-channel score.
  • The Micro perforator enables inline perfing. The perforator blade is set in a perforator/knife holder with the tip of the blade positioned between two counter knives. The blades come in four types for the 30-mm shaft size, ranging from 125 to 318 teeth circumference, and three types on the 35-mm shaft size from 185 to 370 teeth.
  • MWK is a retractable slitter shaft cassette. The entire slitter shaft cassette unit on the operator's side simply slides out without moving the folding unit. There, shafts are docked to be equipped or adjusted, or for a second pair of prepared shafts to be installed. Working widths range from 26 to 44 inches for the parallel, 8-pp or 16-pp sections depending on machine size section of Combi and buckle folding machines.


Score one for modularity

Heidelberg's (Kennesaw, GA) Stahl SSP looks a lot like a folder, but closer examination reveals a key difference. “Instead of a fold plate, it has three sets of slitter shafts and a roller,” explains Joe Niehueser, product manager, Stahlfolders. “It looks like a folder would if you took all the plates out.”

Niehueser says the Stahl SSP is an attractive option for commercial printers looking for high quality results without the time and expense of sending work out to a trade finisher for die-cutting. “Inline scoring is the main application, but it also can perf, slit (trim), strike perf and glue. It's also an excellent steppingstone into mailing — the SSP is the feeder and first application unit on Heidelberg's Flexomailer.

Modularity is a key advantage for the SSP, according to Niehueser. “It offers seamless integration with folding stations, mailing tables and additional slitting, scoring and perforating stations.”

The Stahl SSP not only resembles a folder — it runs like one, too. “You're dealing with a folder,” says Niehueser, “The only exception is that there's a multiple slitter shaft station where the fold head would be. A regular folder operator will have no trouble in moving from one machine to the other.”

Other operator-friendly features include the continuous feed — which is identical to regular folder's feeder, and easy access for fast setups.


Making quick work of difficult and unusual jobs

Central Bindery Co. (Phoenix) ( produces a lot of books, CD holders, boxes and lightweight packaging. Pharmaceutical and mini folding are just two of its folding capabilities, and if you need custom envelopes, Central Bindery Co. can tackle remoist and side-seam gluing.

“We're known mostly for perfect binding, foil stamping and gluing,” says GM Tim Ingersoll. “We serve commercial printers throughout Arizona and the Southwest.”

But the 70-employee, 36,500-sq.-ft. bindery really specializes in difficult jobs. “We do plenty of jobs where we just score and fold, but we also cater to the unusual,” says Ingersoll. “We can score, perf and fold inline as well as add a remoist strip of glue.”

Central Bindery's three Rollem (Anaheim, CA) TR Systems — two 36-inch models and one 42-inch machine — enable the bindery to efficiently produce even complex jobs. “We'll have multiple perfs and scores, maybe a strip of remoist glue or a strip of peel-and-seal, and the machine will do it all one process.

The first 36-inch Rollems were installed in 1994; the 42-inch machine is a recent addition. Noting that the older machines have been completely rebuilt, Ingersoll says, “Essentially, it's like having three new machines.”

Rollem's TR System lets users die-score in a single pass. Rated at 15,000 sph, the system perforates, scores and slits, and it can be combined with an existing eight-page folder to achieve additional production efficiencies.

Prior to acquiring the TR Systems, Central Bindery relied on multiple machines. “You'd have to letterpress score, or score the job on a folder, which was never as good. And, if you letterpress scored, you're doubling [the steps in the process]. It was expensive and slow. The Rollems are much more efficient.”

Ingersoll does concede that skilled operators and good training are essential. “You can't just throw anyone on it. It's one of the more difficult things we do, especially if gluing is involved. Anytime you're doing multiple functions — scoring, perforating, folding and gluing — you have a lot of [variables] to watch and a more [complex] makeready. With gluing, there's not a lot of margin for error. If you have a head that's plugged or something, you've got to have an operator who's on the ball.”

Ingersoll offers some practical advice for avoiding bindery headaches: “Call your bindery in advance for a layout to ensure the job will work. You want to keep the job as automated as you can — obviously, any hand folding results in longer turn times and is more expensive. The door is always open. Call us, and we'll walk through the job, make a mock-up and guide you to the least expensive way to produce the piece.”


Katherine O'Brien is the editor of AMERICAN PRINTER. Contact her at

Learning from a pro

If you've ever struggled with a folding job, you're not alone. “Folding can be very frustrating,” says MBO's (Westampton, NJ) Dave Trutzenbach. “You can set up a job in 10 minutes on one day, and on another day, it might take three hours. Meanwhile, the foreman comes along and wants to know why you're still at it.”

Graduate Phi Beta Folder

Trutzenbach serves as MBO's national manager, application advisor and lead folding school instructor. He frequently counsels customers on tricky jobs over the phone and invites course participants to bring in samples, as well. “I tell everyone, ‘If it's Monday morning and the foreman calls you to do a job and everyone runs for the toilet, you know it's a hard job,’” says Trutzenbach. “I tell them to bring in the job. I'll do my best to show them how it can be done.”

With 50 years of experience, Trutzenbach is a veteran bookbinder. Although he's based in New Jersey, his Cockney accent belies his roots. “I attended the Holborn Art and Craft College in London,” he says. “During my six years apprenticeship in the late 1950s, I learned hand bookbinding.”

He wrote the book

Trutzenbach enjoys sharing his knowledge at the monthly folding courses MBO America conducts in New Jersey and four times a year in Chicago.

“I instruct all the courses in New Jersey and most of the ones we hold out of state,” he explains. “I am responsible for the curriculum as well as the 160-page training manual. I used to draw the images by hand when I first opened the MBO fold school 23 years ago, but now [I have redrawn] all of them using computer programs.”

The courses are free for MBO customers; non-customers pay a small fee. For a complete schedule, see

Drill bits

We asked Central Bindery's Tim Ingersoll to rate the finishing processes from easiest to hardest. Ingersoll said drilling, plastic coil binding, saddlestitching and some folding jobs are generally straightforward, with perfect binding, gluing and foil stamping falling somewhere on the higher end of degree of difficulty. “Gluing, especially when you have multiple functions — four or five things going on at once — is one of the harder things,” says Ingersoll.

Motheral Printing Co. (Ft. Worth, TX) is up to the challenge. Its bindery includes perfect binders, saddlestitchers, folders, Rollem scoring and perfing equipment, and the drill seen on this month's cover (above).