American Printer's mission is to be the most reliable and authoritative source of information on integrating tomorrow's technology with today's management.

Pipe dreams

Apr 1, 2007 12:00 AM

         Subscribe in NewsGator Online   Subscribe in Bloglines

Automatic paper recycling systems can be noisy. Like a huge vacuum cleaner, the system's conveyor tubes whisk paper waste from all over a plant. You can hear the paper slapping against the side of the pipes, and, if full-size sheets are being shredded, the noise is on par with a huge spoon caught in the teeth of a gigantic garbage disposal. But cacophony may yield to euphony as printers calculate labor savings, production efficiencies and a higher price from their recyclers.

The check is in the bale

According to Dan Glenn, national sales manager for Advanced Equipment Sales, printers producing 70 to 80 tons of paper waste per month have the potential to justify a shredding/baling system. “That number might be lower if production is adversely impacted,” he says.

Chris Hawn,Vecoplan's director of business development, concurs. Even if printers are below the 70-ton benchmark, says Hawn, they should consider the labor costs associated with collecting and storing material as well as revenue lost when recycling loose waste. “Often paper is worth far more in shredded and baled form,” he explains.

Tom Hicks, equipment and recycling consultant for Balers and Stuff Inc., adds: “Our goal is to assist printers in being as ‘green’ as possible while being acutely aware that we are an integral part of the manufacturing process. Profits and recycling are not mutually exclusive concepts.”

New equipment also can shift the equation. Manual collection might suffice when a plant has one saddlestitcher, but adding a second one might leave the postpress department awash in overflowing bags and boxes.

Ed Fakeris, president, Ohio Blow Pipe, cites another factor: cleaner air. “If a printer is just shredding paper [as a standalone operation], dust can be a real problem.”

Some plants, pressed for aisle space, want to eliminate waste bins and carts to reclaim valuable real estate. Of course, automatic paper collection systems pose their own floor and ceiling challenges. The business end of the system, where the shredding and baling takes place, generally has a big footprint. And under-roof systems work best with higher ceilings. Some printers will need to allow additional space for waste grade segregation, and there's also the matter of how the bales will exit the building — how will they reach the loading dock or rail car?

Centrifuge in a can or EPA magnet?

Printers pressed for space can opt for what Blower Application Co. (Germantown, WI) describes as a “centrifuge in a can,” the rooftop cyclone.

According to the company's Web site ( “A whirling air and scrap mixture, pushed over 5,000 ft. a minute by a material handling fan, is blown into the cyclone where centrifugal force drives the scrap to the cylinder outside wall. Because the cyclone is a larger diameter than the conveying pipe, the speed of the spinning material begins to drop and gravity takes over, allowing the material to spiral down a tapered area leading into a baler chute or other receptacle.”

Ohio Blow Pipe offers both cyclone and under-roof systems. Cyclones are the older of the two technologies — and apparently, they are remarkably durable. According to Fakeris, the company gets daily inquiries about parts for some of its systems that are 60 years old or more and still out in the field.

While there are good applications for both, Fakeris notes that the distinctive cyclone can be “an EPA magnet.”

The cyclone is not necessarily a pollutant — conveyed air can be filtered and returned to a plant. But if the user opts to release the air — and dust — into the atmosphere, the company can be subjected to emissions testing and permitting requirements.

Do your homework

Buying a paper recycling system is a daunting task. While printers are at ease discussing dpi in the prepress department, sph in the pressroom and cph in the bindery, very few are conversant with cubic feet per minute (cfm), a key system consideration. “CFM dictates the [system cost],” explains Bob Zacary, Jr., president of Air Systems Design. “The more machines you have, the more air you need and the more the price goes up.”

A little extra air can overcome overfeeding issues notes Zacary, adding that it's also prudent to plan for future capacity. He stresses the importance of visiting similar operations using the system under consideration. “Definitely go through the reference list,” he says. “Try to see four or five sites.”

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

Recycling Products & Services

Balers and Stuff (Hendersonville, TN)

Balers and Stuff offers new and used equipment as well as services for managing all aspects of waste paper collection for recycling, including pneumatic trim conveyors, balers, and shredders coupled with dust filtration and sound abatement devices.

Small to midsize companies with limited budgets are a specialty. From consultation to turnkey systems or owner-assisted installations, Balers and Stuff offers a broad range of options.
Call (615) 826-0563.

Advanced Equipment Sales (Franconia, PA)

AES specializes in equipment and automated byproduct handling systems for the printing, converting and document destruction industries. The company provides turnkey trim collection and bulk baling systems that can increase efficiency and cleanliness, and return higher paper revenues. New, used and reconditioned equipment is available.

Call (800) 572-9998 or e-mail

Air Systems Design (Mandelville, IN)

Founded in 1982, Air Systems Design Inc. (ASDI) installed its first separator in 1985. Its Material Discharge Unit (MDU) has been installed in more 200 plants. Most systems can be placed under the roof, saving installation time, while offering greater material flexibility.

Air is filtered and returned to the plant using filters that clean to 99.999 percent to one micron. An ASDI engineer designs, manufactures and installs the complete system. Systems have been installed at plants featuring a wide variety of printing and converting machines. Call (985) 875-7777.

Kernic Systems (Burlington, ON)

Kernic has been providing North American printers and converters with waste paper removal systems for more than 26 years. Its OneSource design and construction offers custom-tailored fiber recovery systems. Designs include below- and above-roof systems, return air filtration and complete baling and shredding systems. Factory direct personnel install the systems. Call (800) 678-9516.

Ohio Blow Pipe Co. (OBP) (Cleveland)

Now in its 75th year, Ohio Blow Pipe designs, fabricates and installs air conveying, baling, shredding and dust collection systems for printers. OBP's under-roof systems feature patented Airscreen and Cleanair dust collection technology that meets and exceeds OSHA and EPA regulations. Call (216) 681-7379.

Vecoplan LLC (Archdale, NC)

For shredding long paper roll cores quickly and efficiently, the company recently debuted VH18/50 PC. The shredder is fed horizontally and processes paper roll cores up to 7.5 inches in diameter.

A 12-foot vibratory infeed conveyor is standard. A wide variety of other conveyor lengths and styles also offered. The machine's 18-inch-wide infeed opening features a “floating top” mechanism that allows it to accept multiple roll cores, each up to 7.5 inches in diameter, simultaneously. Call (336) 861-6070 or e-mail

Balemaster (Crown Point, IN)

The “E” Series auto-tie baler line for high-density baling of printing and converting scrap features special dust control technology. An accessory (“Air-Blaster”) uses compressed air to clean behind the baling ram during the retraction stroke.

“E” Series Balers include Balemaster's heavy-duty, automatic wire-tier, touchscreen controls with over 50 information screens, and an advanced “slick materials” tensioning system. Call (219) 663-4525 or e-mail

The G. F. Puhl Co. (Goodletsville, TN)

G.F. Puhl offers:

  • Mechanical and electrical engineering services.
  • Trim waste conveyance/collection systems.
  • Paper baler and shredders.
  • After-market equipment and service.
  • OSHA certified field installers.

Puhl is celebrating its 24th anniversary and will soon relocate to a new 51,000-sq.-ft. sales, service and manufacturing plant. After June 15, 2007, the company will be at 240 Airport Rd in Gallatin, TN. Call (615) 859-4848.

Time is money

Colorado Printing (Grand Junction, CO) has an unusual equipment list. Founded in 1947, the three-shift, $15 million general commercial printer is an all-Heidelberg shop. The pressroom boasts an SM 102-10P, SM 102-8P and the first SM 74 CD LPL in the United States. There's also a VideoJet PrintPro addressing system and G.F. Puhl paper recycling system. Plus, the company's airplane, a single-engine Mooney M20M/T, is dubbed “The Press Check Express.”

Going farther, faster

Dan Thurlow, chairman of Colorado Printing Co. and a licensed pilot since 1967, explains the company, which is located four hours outside of Denver, serves a national client base. Automation is the key to overcoming isolation — the company compensates for longer transit times with a streamlined production process.

Speedy turnarounds aren't just for the pressroom — estimates are due within two hours of the customer or prospect's request. And, thanks to the G.F. Puhl system, even waste collection doesn't waste time.

Prior to moving into a 146,000-sq.-ft. building this past fall, Colorado Printing used a loose paper handling system. “It was a tremendous task,” recalls Thurlow. “We were physically moving tons of trash in Gaylord boxes.”

Aside from the strain on the employees, during peak operations no one could be spared to haul away the waste. Loose paper also wasn't very lucrative — Colorado Printing typically got $30 per loose ton vs. $130 per ton for its baled paper. According to Thurlow, the company's baled waste now brings in about $10,000 to $12,000 per month.

“It also gives us a little more credibility in the environmental world,” he adds. “We're not creating a landfill issue.”

The quicker picker upper

Although some people erroneously assume paper can be recycled into fresh reams of paper endlessly, Colorado Printing Co.'s scraps face a more pragmatic fate. Bales are sent to a mill in Flagstaff, AZ, and, when seen again, have been transformed into paper towels or toilet paper. See