Know When To Fold Them
Folding machines are built to last. But many that were sold in the 1980s don't have the tools needed to handle 21st-century work.
By W. Eric Martin
Folding and printing go hand-in-hand. Rarely is an item delivered from the press to the end user without being manipulated: letters must fit into envelopes; brochures and magazines must be folded before being trimmed; and holiday cards must be made mantle-ready.
While folding itself is fairly straightforward, knowing what you need from the equipment doing the folding can be a bit trickier.
Folding equipment seems to have an amazingly long life span, creating creases for decades before going kaput. John Baron, manager of Printing Services with the College of American Pathologists in Northfield, Ill., has been using a Heidelberg Stahl T52/4 with a right angle attachment since 1990 and a Baum 714 XE Ultrafold with a right angle attachment since 1997.
"With proper use and maintenance, they should last another 10-plus years," he predicts.
But folders marketed in the 1980s don't necessarily tout the tools an in-plant needs to handle every 21st century job that comes down the pike.
Nancy Zombolas, graphics and printing supervisor for the City of Rockville, Maryland, says her shop was outsourcing the folding of everything printed on coated stock due to problems with "scuffing" of the ink. Her 20-year-old Baum 417B folder had no way to manage right-angle folds, so those pieces also had to be outsourced. Zombolas recently replaced the shop's dinosaur with a new Baum 2020 pile feeder folder so all this work can be kept in-house.
Bill Hudson, branch director of printing for the Mississippi Department of Transportation Print Shop, which has nine employees in two locations and an annual budget of $1.1 million, is also looking to keep more folding work in-house after installing an MBO B21 folding machine in May 2003.