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Punching & drilling

Mar 1, 2005 12:00 AM

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Eight years ago, David Spiel of Spiel Associates (Long Island City, NY) penned what remains one of my favorite opening lines to a postpress feature: "While many printers know how to throw a punch, very few are aware of what to look for when buying a punch."

When we spoke to Spiel for this issue’s story, he began by clarifying the difference between a punch and a drill. "A drill uses a rotating bit, while a punch uses a reciprocating male and female die that doesn’t rotate. A drill can only be used for round holes, whereas a punch can produce any type of hole: square, oval, round or custom."

Drilling is faster
Spiel’s company has been selling drills and drill bits for 42 years and punching equipment for the past 25. He says one of the most common punching pitfalls involves three-hole applications. "We often get calls from people who want three-hole dies," Spiel explains. "But we want to help people solve bindery problems, not just sell them equipment. So rather than sell them a three-hole die, I’ll say ‘Why are you punching? Don’t you have a drill?’ Most of them do, but there’s a misconception that punching is faster."

While punching might seem faster, Spiel says drilling is the better choice for producing between three to ten holes. He notes that the top punches can punch seven inches of paper per minute vs. a drill, which can drill a two- to three-inch lift every stroke. A good operator should be able to drill four to five lifts per minute, and some can even drill six. "The real problem is that few bindery managers know how many sheets they’re punching per hour."

Clocking the punch
Rather than relying on your punching hunches, Spiel suggests actually timing the machine. He recalls visiting a bindery and observing an automatic punch being operated at moderate speed. "I asked the customer how fast it was punching and he estimated it was between 50,000 to 60,000 sph," says Spiel. "I looked at my watch and asked the operator how many sheets he was punching with each stroke. After doing the math we learned that the operator was only punching 24,000 sheets per hour. It was costing the bindery twice what he thought to punch his job. The going rate for punching is 50 cents an inch. If you’re only punching two inches per minute instead of seven, you’re losing money!"

While drilling is almost always the faster process, Spiel says that punching offers superior accuracy, a key consideration for plastic coil jobs. He adds that the majority of mechanical binding is currently done with punching machines.

For certain Wire-O or spiral applications, Spiel suggests including a three-hole die pattern with the regular die. "If you want a notebook to go into a looseleaf binder, it makes sense to put those three extra holes in there, so you don’t have to drill it once its punched. It saves an extra step."

Heavy-duty, high volume drilling
Founded in 1963, Rollem USA (Anaheim, CA) is probably best known for its line of perfing, scoring and slitting equipment, but it has been distributing heavy-duty Durselen drills for about 10 years.

Larry Corwin, president of Rollem USA, explains that the drills, which range from about $15,000 to $150,000 are best suited to commercial printers, trade binderies, book printers, publishers and others doing high-volume drilling. "We’re looking to do things that have never been done at this upper end of the market," he says, specifically citing the ability to add drilling inline to a perfect binder without sacrificing speed as well as the potential to drill rather than punch some mechanical binding applications.

Rollem’s Durselen offerings include:

  • PB-04 for all purpose three-hole or five-hole automotive work.
  • PB-05 for drilling large-format sheets before cutting.
  • PB-15, a system said to be five times faster than a regular drill. It features automatic feeding, jogging, drilling and delivery for processing looseleaf, perfect bound books, and stitched or mechanically bound books with 2:1, 3:1, 4:1 and 5:1 mechanical binding patterns.
  • PB-09, which is similar to PB-15, but not as fast. PB-09 offers 900 stacks per hour vs. PB-15’s 1,500.
  • PB-10 DOD for short-run drilling applications with frequent hole pattern changes and/or paper sizes.
  • PB-12 Gantry for use inline with stitchers and perfect binders.
  • PB-16, a modular machine with up to 15 drilling heads.

Sliding table for mechanical binding
Corwin anticipates the PB-16 will be Rollem’s most popular system. "It can be a dedicated or multiple application machine," he explains. "Because it’s modular, you can start with a basic model and add other components."

PB-16 can be equipped with a programmable sliding table for mechanical binding patterns and a programmable back gauge for multiple-up drilling work, such as tags or labels. The programmable sliding table handles longer runs, larger paper formats and complex, multi-stroke patterns.

"You need the sliding table for mechanical binding," says Corwin. "It will accept a program where the drilling head is deployed multiple times on the same book with incremental movement on the same stroke. The operator can program how much the table moves the product before each stroke."

Although punches are typically used for mechanical binding, Corwin says a drill such as the PB-16 can be advantageous for diverse content jobs. "Suppose you have a Wire-O book with a lot of different elements such as tabs, outside pages, inserts. With this drill, you can do one collation and process the book as whole. With a punch, you typically have to decollate the book to group all like elements together and then recollate it following the punching process."

Inline with a perfect binder
For drilling inline with a perfect binder, Rollem offers PB-12 Gantry, a machine Corwin describes as having a flow-through configuration. "Similar to a three-knife trimmer, a product comes in one end, gets drilled and exits on the other end. This has helped us crack the speed barrier, since the machine doesn’t have to wait for one stack to come out before inputting another."

Because the PB-12 has a rated speed of 1,500 cycles per hour vs. perfect binders that, at minimum, are producing 4,000 books per hour, the drill’s lift must provide the speed equalizer. "A typical perfect bound book is between 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 inch thick," explains Corwin. "Because PB-12 can run a two-inch lift per cycle, if the book is 1⁄2 inch thick, it can still run eight books high per cycle. Multiply that by 1,500 and you’ve got 12,000 books per hour." Rollem will be exhibiting at Print 05.

Wire-O binding tips
Keep in mind the following tips when designing a book for Wire-O binding:

  • Start with a sample | Provide the postpress department or trade bindery with a sample of the project. This allows your finisher to measure all margins, copy placement, final trim size, tab placement and more. Make sure the sample is produced on the exact stock that will be used for the production run, so your postpress department can determine the proper binding pitch. For books bulking 1⁄2 inch or less, 3:1 wire (three holes per inch) will be used. Books thicker than 1⁄2 inch will require 2:1 binding.
  • Avoid punching into copy | All images and text should be kept clear of the spine area to avoid the punched binding holes. For books using 3:1 wire, leave at least a 3⁄8-inch margin from the spine edge to the edge of the punched hole closest to the spine. That margin should be at least 1⁄2 inch for books using 2:1 wire.
SOURCE: Chris Eckhart, co-owner of bindery Eckhart & Co.,

High-volume drill is a hole lot better
Two years ago Anthony Estrada wasn’t looking for a drill. But when the general manager of BJ Bindery (Santa Ana, CA) attended Graph Expo and saw Rollem’s Durselen PB-09 drill, he bought it on the spot.

PB-09 was the forerunner to Rollem’s PB-15. They’re essentially the same machine, but the PB-09’s has a rated speed of 900 stacks per hour vs. PB-15’s 1,500. Both feature automatic feeding, jogging, and drilling. A sliding table required for mechanical binding is standard on PB-15 and optional on PB-09.

In both cases, piles of material are placed on an infeed conveyor belt, automatically jogged, then fed to the drilling unit at a 45-degree angle.

Impressive speed and accuracy
Estrada says the PB-09 provides BJ Bindery with the versatility it needs. "We were impressed by its speed and accuracy," he says. "Also, the fact that one operator can work the infeed as well as the outfeed. We’ve reduced labor costs while increasing productivity by at least 35 percent."

The 48,000-sq.-ft., 100-employee trade bindery is the largest in Orange County. "We don’t have the luxury of setting up for one particular job," explains Estrada. "We never know what sizes are going to be thrown in our direction, what book thickness or type of sheets."

Prior to adding the PB-09, BJ Bindery had four other drilling machines, ranging from five to 20 years old. Formerly used every day, the old drills are now kept only for backup.

"Before, we would never do anything over seven holes," says Estrada. "The quality was inconsistent. Flat top drills are not accurate—when you’re jogging the paper, you’re hitting the back gauge and it will start to move after awhile."

BJ Bindery has done 28- and even 44-hole jobs. Estrada says the computer-controlled PB-09 offers much faster setup and throughput vs. older drills. "It’s an advantage. Many of our competitors have the old kind, and the speeds are a lot slower and probably require a minimum of two people. If we are doing the same job, we can do it in one-third the time with one person."

Blown away
Like BJ Bindery, management at Brown’s Bindery (Columbia, SC) purchased the PB-15 (shown below) after seeing a trade show demonstration. "The Brown brothers saw it a Graph Expo last year and it blew them away," recounts William Burritt, bindery supervisor. "It’s three times faster than our old drills, which weren’t computerized. I can adjust this machine on the fly—the set up time is incredibly fast."

Brown’s specializes in perfect and mechanical binding as well as folding. "We do just about everything except die cutting," explains Burritt. He adds that the bindery is probably in the midrange when it comes to drilling, "But when it rains, it pours. We’ve seen everything from 10,000 books per week to 200,000." Burritt says PB-15 is enabling the bindery to do work it couldn’t previously handle, such as a 28-hole book. "With the Durselen, it only took me a few minutes to set up the machine. With four heads, I hit it seven times and knocked out 1,000 books in 15-20 minutes. That probably would’ve taken more than a hour with the old drill." See

The die guy
Shopping for an automatic punch? Here are some tips:
  • Consider the cost of dies. Also, dies often are not interchangeable with other units.
  • How versatile is it? Many punches can only punch on the spine. Others can punch anywhere on the sheet. This allows punching of wraparound covers, windows, tags, door hangers and slots. In essence, a punch can be used as a high-speed, mini diecutter. Also, ask whether the machine can punch tabbed sheets (or the tabs themselves).
  • Does the delivery end allow one-person operation? Some punches offer a hopper or a jogger. This can be problematic with faster punches—as a jogger fills up quickly, you’ll need a second operator to feed the machine.
  • Is the feeder well-designed? Feeding is the biggest problem for some punches, particularly those that feed vertically. Stock often can curl or fuse from static, especially if it’s coming off a digital printer. Ascertain whether the feeder can accommodate a large lift so that an operator is free to unload.
  • Can the machine feed signatures? More printers are gathering signatures and trimming four sides to save time. Some punches will trim the backbone and punch the hole pattern in the same pass.
  • How quickly can the die be changed? Some machines offer a die change of minutes, while others can take nearly half an hour. Also, ask about the lead time when ordering dies and find out what the turnaround time is on sharpening the die.
  • Finally, try it before you buy it!
SOURCE: David Spiel, Spiel Associates,

Bits & pieces: what’s new
GENERAL BINDING CORP. | The Quantum P70iX by General Binding Corp. (GBC) (Skokie, IL) targets digital print applications and supports all common punching patterns, including three-hole, comb, Velobind, Twin-Loop wire and Color Coil. The punch is preprogrammed for common paper sizes and can store 20 custom jobs. The P70iX can handle sheets from 51⁄2 x 51⁄2 inches to 9 x 12 inches, including mixed weights and cover stocks, at speeds up to 72,000 sph.
Circle 180 or visit

VIJUK | Vijuk (Elmhurst, IL) offers an automatic, multi-purpose trimmer/puncher the H+H Bograma. It can cut, shape-punch, hole-punch, perforate or three-knife trim independently or attached to a primary finishing system such as a folding/gluing system, saddlestitchinger or a collator/bookletmaker. Applications include perimeter die cutting, interior die cutting, hole punching, perforating and trimming on sheets, leaflets or booklets in one- to three-up formats. Overall format sizes: max. 85⁄8 x 175⁄8 inches; min. 11⁄2 x 17⁄8 inches. Cutting, punching and die cutting thickness can be up to 3⁄16 inch based on stock and product. Perforating thickness is up to 1⁄16 inch. Rated production speed is 10,000 cycles per hour, depending on format, product and stock.
Circle 181 or visit

MBM CORP.’s | (North Charleston, SC) tabletop paper drill, the MBM 25, offers a two-inch drilling capacity and an easy-glide table that moves on bearings. The compact drill also features a fast-release paper clamp to secure paper and self-centering side guides for quick changes.
Circle 182 or visit

DHP BINDERY EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES | (Pensacola, FL) has purchased the entire Dexter-Lawson (DL) drilling division. DHP is the exclusive parts and service source for all DL paper drills.
Circle 183 or visit

CHALLENGE MACHINERY CO. | (North Shore, MI) reportedly introduced the industry’s first paper drilling machine in 1930. The company manufactures paper drills ranging from single-spindle tabletop models through 10-spindle production floor models. Challenge’s drills include the JO (table-top one-hole); JF (floor-model one-hole); EH-3C (hydraulic powered three-hole); MS-5 (hydraulic powered five-hole); and MS-10A (hydraulic powered ten-hole). The MS-10A also offers specialized large-hole drilling capabilities for holes ranging from 9⁄16 to 1 5⁄8 inches in diameter.
Circle 184 or visit

BAUMFOLDER CORP. | (Sydney, OH) offers a variety of paper drills from tabletop, single-spindle through hydraulic, five-spindle floor-model units. All offer quick drill bit removal and hole-location setups, without the use of tools.
Circle 185 or visit

LASSCO’s | (Rochester, NY) Spinnit Drills are offered in sizes ranging from a one-inch single-spindle, manual drill up to a two-inch, three-spindle, pneumatic powered drill. Lassco’s 2-inch floor model is now available with the E-Z Glide table system for easier multihole drilling. Four interchangeable hole patterns are included.
Circle 186 or visit

MBO AMERICA | MBO America (Westampton, NJ) offers the Bograma BS Multi 450/750 series automatic die-cut, punch, hole-punch and perforating machines. These machines can be used offline or inline behind any folder or a gather-stitcher. For production savings, users can take advantage of versatile features that can be easily integrated inline, such as die-cutting, hole punching, head and foot trimming, center trimming or punching for multiple-up production, and thumb, corner and various other perforations. Cutting quality is constant, even at operating rates up to 20,000 strokes per hour.
Circle 187 or visit

RENZ AMERICA’s | (Agawam, MA) AP360 punching system can produce all punching patterns used with looseleaf binding systems and specialized hole patterns. Users can choose between either continuous or pile/stack feed input, and pile/stack or jogger output configurations. Renz also offers the Kugler automatic punch in three machine sizes for formats up to 25 x 26 inches. One operator can punch up to 100,000 sph, including ring binder inserts, calender pages, tab and register-cut sheets made of corrugated and plastic, paper for wire-bound products (spiral and double-wire binding) and more.
Circle 188 or visit

PERFORMANCE DESINGN INC.’s (PDI) | (Boise, ID) HD 7000 is a 14-inch open-ended punch that features a quick-change die system (QCDS) for changing punch patterns in 30 seconds. No tools are required. The QCDS ensures that the HD7000 will not activate unless the die is locked into the machine. Punching capacity is dependent on the punch pattern being used. It’s rated at 25 to 40 sheets or up to 80 pages of 20-lb. bond, (15,000 to 18,000 sph).
Circle 189 or visit

SPIEL ASSOC. | (Long Island City, NY) Sterling Punchmaster 20 punches sheets from 4 x 5 inches to 20 x 20 inches and is capable of punching anywhere on the sheet, not just on the spine. The punch is suitable for comb, spiral and double-loop wire, as well as tabs, door hangers and windows. An optional air feeder lets users punch signatures and heavy board. Micro-meter die adjustment facilitates sheet centering. The Punchmaster can run at up to 125,000 sph, reportedly a million sheets per shift. Spiel also offers the Sterling drill, a small, three-head drill with a three-inch lift. It has variable stroke speed, a stepped side guide and 5.75-inch throat depth. The heavy-duty, floor-model hydraulic drill uses two- and three-inch drill bits, and drills holes from 1⁄8 to 9⁄16 inches wide.
Circle 190 or visit