Prepping a mailing 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.
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 form and desktop. 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 they 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 over any other kind.
Letter thickness also needs to be considered. Standard paper can be accommodated easily, 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 just folding letters). Since time is money in business, any folder that can fold fast is worth looking at. Some of the best-selling folding machines have a folding speed of 4,000-plus sheets per hour.
As we mentioned above, 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 the technology 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 would require at least two or three people to do heavy lifting. If you have a small office where space is limited, 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 more of a fancy 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 – also known as the French fold. One side of the paper is folded shorter than the other.
- Baronial fold – resembles a tri-fold
- Gate fold – similar to the tri-fold
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, efficiently optimize folding time, do not have limitations in jobs, and do not require any downtime between projects.