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Dec 1, 2008 12:00 AM

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Wrinkles, dog ears, jams, tears … folding is one bindery application that, traditionally, has required a great deal of operator skill. Tiny pharmaceutical packages, maps and other miniature products compound the challenge.

The right machinery can go a long way toward easing production bottlenecks and ensuring the job is done well, without waste. Here are some of the latest specialty folders for miniature applications, with paper handling and automation features to help keep things running smoothly.

Fast, reliable mini folds

Heidelberg's (Kennesaw, GA) Stahlfolder Ti 36 Folding Unit offers high productivity and reliability for very small fold lengths (2 cm or 0.8 inch), including large numbers of parallel and cross folds. It runs at up to 30,000 cph and can be configured with four or six buckle plates, as well as additional folding units. An optional NSF 36 nonstop feeder enables continuous production.

The Festa system for adjusting folding roller gaps and slittler shaft spacings enables fast makeready. An external synchronous gear drive and helical, tempered and ground gears prevent slip. The gears are automatically lubricated by integrated, long-lasting grease cartridges to facilitate maintenance.

The Extra Grip folding rollers of the Stahlfolder Ti 36 have a larger number of polyurethane (PU) rings for optimum traction. The steel sections of parallel Extra Grip folding rollers are arranged to treat products carefully and ensure top quality. At the same time, traction is optimized by a large number of polyurethane rings. Other advantages include their wear resistance and true running.

The hard PU Extra Grip folding rollers are well suited to thin papers, while the soft PU version is suitable for a wide range of substrates.

Heidelberg's STA series of small-format deliveries was designed for optimal handling of small-format products (final length between 2 and 11 centimeters; 0.79 to 4.33 inches), such as packaging inserts with multiple folds. These deliveries reportedly prevent folded products from “popping up,” because they are stacked against a spring-loaded vertical stop in a horizontal position with the spine down on the delivery table. Folded products are counted at the exit of the last folding unit and placed in laterally staggered batches.

These small-format deliveries are available as an attachable unit (STA 30 small-format delivery) or mounted on a mobile base (STA 30F and STA 40F small-format deliveries) so they can also be used with other folders and saddlestitchers. See

Intelligent automation

Under the theme “Think Intelligent Automation,” Standard Finishing Systems (Andover, MA) showcased a broad range of automated solutions at Graph Expo 08. Horizon's development philosophy combines technical finishing expertise with the fundamental steps required to produce professional-quality cut sheets, folded signatures, saddlestitched booklets, and perfect-bound books with speed and efficiency.

Standard Horizon's new AF-406T is a small-format (max. 15.7 × 25.6-inch sheet), 6-buckle folder with pile feed and suction head. An optional 6-buckle second unit can be added straight or cross-wise, providing application flexibility for insert, outsert and pharmaceutical applications.

Horizon also brings intelligent control at the network level with full JDF compliance via the i2i Bindery Control System. Job parameters can be entered at a central control console and then called-up by any Horizon finisher on the network. The Horizon i2i system can also be interfaced with MIS systems for seamless JDF/JMF interoperability.


Constant contact

Since January 2008, MBO America (Westampton, NJ) has been the exclusive U.S. distributor for partner company Herzog + Heymann's (Bielefeld, Germany) pharmaceutical and miniature folding products.

The companies' 2000 merger resulted in a wide range of equipment configurations, applications and solutions ranging from small formats for packaging inserts up to large formats for maps and posters.

The H&H specialty folder KL112 — built for small folded materials, pharmaceutical instructions, perforated lottery products and extremely thin papers — is supplied with 2 to 14 buckle plates. H&H exclusive technology includes radial folding roller adjustment that keeps the paper in constant contact with the rollers, precisely maintaining paper position integrity. Transverse grooves in the steel springs are filled with plastic, ensuring the minimum additional thickness, which enhances grip on the fold rollers for lightweight papers. The KL112 runs from 35-150 m/min and the smallest folding length is 18 mm.


Stacking up

Baumfolder Corp.'s (Sidney, OH) Baum 15 floor-model folder with pile feeding is designed for high productivity, with a patented double-blow bar for sheet separation, an “easy-set” feature for double-sheet caliper and an electronic pile height sensor. Its control panel features computerized sheet-gap control, a built-in batch and total counter, self-diagnostic messages and productivity rate data display. Automatic lubrication and a hardened steel helical-gear drive provide solid reliability. Combination fold rolls, Baumset roller settings and fabricated fold plates are standard equipment on the Baum 15, and an 8-page rollaway section is available.

The optional Baum Vertical Delivery Stacker (VDS) is designed to stack small jobs a shingle stacker cannot deliver, such as pharmaceutical folding. The compact VDS stacker is a mobile unit that reportedly will adapt to any later model Baum floor-model folder. The Baum 15 (nominal sheet size 15 × 23 inches) with the Baum VDS small-format delivery stacker produces a stacked product folded to 1.5 × 1.5 inches.



Baumfolder Corp.'s new Baum Flexifold is a small, modular tabletop folder with automation features built in.

Adaptable to multiple users, it features a one-sheet test mode to reduce waste, with fewer overrun sheets needed for job setup. Its continuous bottom-feed system boasts non-marking performance, and gear-driven folding rollers reportedly eliminate slippage. The toner-resistant, static dissipative folding rollers make the system ideal for finishing digital print.

Recommended options include the Flexifeed deep pile feeder and the Flexifold 8-page right-angle folder. The second station also can be placed in tandem, in a straight line, to perform more complex roll and accordion folds. Perforating, scoring and slitting kits are available.

Flexifold takes a maximum 14 × 20-inch sheet and runs at 35,000 letter-size sph.

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