Letter Folding Machine Buying Guide

By business.com editorial staff,
business.com writer
| Updated
Jun 05, 2020
Image Credit: sirtravelalot / Shutterstock

Save yourself some manual labor and time and invest in a letter folding machine.

  • Letter folding machines can save your business time and money if you do direct mailing.
  • Not all letter folding machines are the same, so research is necessary to find the right product for your business.
  • Letter folding machines can cut back on mistakes that may damage marketing materials or cost time and resources.

Prepping a mail campaign to reach out to your customers? A good letter folding machine can save you an extraordinary amount of time. In addition to folding letters, these machines can ensure that folds are neat and accurate and even score, glue, and batch letters. 

There are two main types of letter folding machines: pneumatic folding machines and feeding systems. Pneumatic folding machines (sometimes referred to as air-powered paper folders) use a vacuum to push paper. It's common for pneumatic folding machines to have a built-in compressor. In addition, pneumatic folding machines have folding plates or knife folds that can be adjusted either manually or electronically. 

Costs of folding machines

Feeding system folding machines are the more popular of the two and cheaper. A good pneumatic folding machine costs $500 or more, while a good feeding system folding machine starts at around $150. Unless you are in the printing business, you won't need a heavy-duty machine that costs thousands of dollars. Your everyday small or midsize business can benefit from a folding machine that costs less than $200 or, in many cases, less than $100. 

Folding machines come in freestanding and desktop models. Freestanding machines typically cost more and are best for larger businesses that will be folding aggressively; all other businesses can benefit from a space-saving desktop machine. 

Both types of machines work by feeding air of some sort with friction or utilize an air-controlled suction wheel. Certain models have a table or rollers that push paper through to be folded. The paper is separated by air that blows through it.  

What to look for in a letter folding machine

When shopping for a letter folding machine, consider what type of paper you'll be folding. Standard printer paper tends to be the easiest to fold. Some letter folding machines cannot accommodate glossy paper, as their surface jams up folding machines. If you plan on folding glossy paper, opt for a pneumatic folding machine. 

Letter thickness also needs to be considered. Standard paper is easy to accommodate, but once you start getting into cardstock paper, you'll have issues if you don't have the right folder. 

Next, be sure to consider the size of the paper you'll be folding. Most machines have a minimum and maximum paper size. Typically, folders that handle oversized paper cost more (something you won't need to worry about if you're just folding letters). Since time is money in business, any folder that can fold fast is worth looking at. Some of the bestselling folding machines have a folding speed of 4,000-plus sheets per hour. 

Again, a desktop machine is a good space-saving solution. However, because any new piece of technology for your business is an investment, you should also consider the size of the space where it will be stored. If you'll be purchasing a larger machine that's heavy, not planning out the space in advance can be a real issue. Desktop letter folding machines are easy to move around and store; freestanding machines require at least two or three people to do heavy lifting. If you have a small office, you don't want a machine that takes up a lot of space. 

Common types of paper folds

The final feature to consider when choosing a letter folding machine is the type of fold. You can get creative with your letter folding, but not every machine will offer multiple folding types. The basic C letter fold is best for standard letters. If you want your letters to have a fancier fold, look for folders with the following: 

  • Accordion fold – Z-shaped
  • Single fold – V-shaped
  • Double parallel fold – your typical two-page pamphlet fold
  • Engineering fold – half accordion
  • Cross fold –  one side of the paper is folded shorter than the other (also known as the French fold)
  • Baronial fold – resembles a trifold
  • Gate fold – also similar to the trifold 

As with any piece of office technology, you should carefully research letter folding machines to make the best purchasing decision for your business. To save yourself time and energy, look for machines that are easy to use, optimize folding time, have no limitations in jobs, and do not require any downtime between projects.

Benefits and uses of a letter folding machine

Letter folding machines are great timesavers if your business often sends material through the mail. You'll waste hours that could be better spent on crucial aspects of your business if you require employees to fold print material by hand.

Also, letter folding machines can be used to handle the distribution of many different types of printed content. They are great for flyers, postcards, brochures, coupons and various other types of promotional material. If your business relies on these types of communications, letter folding machines will automate your workflow to help the business run more efficiently.

A letter folding machine will also give you more precise folds. Human error may result in defective materials if the proper tools aren't used to ensure folds are made correctly each time. A sloppy fold can ruin the entire presentation of a piece of marketing content. Letter folding machines prevent materials from being improperly handled or damaged.

Another major benefit of letter folding machines is specification. Various machines are available that perform different tasks. If you have a complex project that requires specific operation, investing in a letter folding machine can save you time and aggravation. Training employees to perform menial yet detail-oriented tasks can be difficult and time-consuming.

Letter folding machines allow you to maintain the highest level of professionalism in your marketing. It's an investment that will pay off over time and allow you to delegate more meaningful work to your employees. Any business that distributes a high volume of material through the mail should consider purchasing one to maximize the efficiency of their operation.

business.com editorial staff
business.com editorial staff
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