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There are a number of types of binding machines, and they offer different looks and durability. Choosing the best machine for a particular task may depend on how the binding should look and how many books or documents will be bound at a time. How the book will be used is also a consideration. Some of the different types include comb, coil, wire, thermal, tape, strip, and saddle stitching machines.
Comb binding machines punch round holes in the left edge of the pages, and the comb opens when the loose pages are inserted. The combs then close over a row of precisely spaced plastic rings. This method is the least flexible style of bookbinding due to the plastic spine that forms the back of the binding. Using unique locks to keep paper from falling out, this type of binding is ideal for small, thin books.
Coil, or spiral coil, machines produce a binding that is less rigid and therefore more durable than plastic comb binding. This type will punch the holes and bind pages with a continuous spiraling plastic coil. PVC is typically used in place of metal coils since it is less prone to bending out of shape and has no sharp ends. This type of binding works well for notebooks and legal documents.
Wire binding machines thread two wires through the holes punched in the edge of the pages. The wires are then bent and closed together by the machine after the pages are holed and fed into the wire ring. Usually these machines are used for only 3:1 or 2:1 pitch bindings. A pitch is the number of holes punched per inch (2.54 cm) along the bound edge of the page (i.e., 2:1 pitch is two holes per inch along the edge of the page). Wire binding is generally used to bind larger books or documents.
Thermal binding and perfect binding machines are useful in giving manuscripts a professionally finished appearance. A one piece front and back cover is folded twice and, with thermal binding, the page edges are inserted into the pre-glued spine. The spine is then heated until the glue melts into the edge of the pages. In the case of perfect binding, pages are run across rollers coated with hot glue and inserted into the folded spine. Thermal or perfect bound books and documents present a neat, professional look. This is often the method used for binding paperback books.
Tape machines use a strip of adhesive tape down a pre-folded cover to bind the edge of the pages together. This eliminates the time and expense of heating and drying glue and also produces a tidy, finished appearance.
Strip binding machines punch the edges of the page and run binding strips through the holes. Excess prongs on the strips are cut off by the machine, and the strips are securely sealed with heat. This method presents a finished look since the holes are hidden by the strips, although the bound edge is visible.
Saddle stitching machines, which are costly and complex, are generally used by dedicated printing companies. They punch wire staples through the folded edges of a number of pages. Some saddle stitching machines will both fold and staple in one operation. These machines are most often used to bind magazines and catalogs.
Various other options include click and wire-O binding machines, as well as professional quarter binding, hardcover binding, and sewn binding.