The folding and gluing process is essential for transforming a piece of flat material into a final product, such as an envelope or box. Once, this work was all done by hand, and it was a time-consuming process. The first folder-gluer machines were produced in 1903. Although many advances have been made in the manufacturing of these machines, they still work in much the same way, only faster.
What Is Involved in the Folding & Gluing Process?
The folding and gluing process takes a flat piece of material and can transform it into a three-dimensional object, such as a box. The machine folds the material along perforations and then glues the sections in place, creating all types of finished products. Folder-gluers can process many kinds of materials, including the following.
- Metalized & varnished boards
- Corrugated boards
Although folder-gluer machines can be used in many industries, they are primarily seen in packaging production. These machines are often used to create different kinds of boxes, including crash-lock, straight-line, and multi-point.
Businesses that manufacturer envelopes and commercial printers also use these machines daily. Folder-gluers are highly specialized machines that work to carry out precise processes. These machines can make between 5,000-12,000 boxes an hour, depending on the type and materials. The following are the steps involved in the process.
- The die-cut blank is first loaded into the machine. A series of special hooks, rollers, and guides help to move the die-cut blank piece into the proper position.
- As the die-cut blank moves along, machine arms work to fold the piece with intricate and precise detail.
- When the die-cut blank is being folded, the machine applies hot or cold glue to the folds to hold them in place permanently.
- Finally, the folded and glued piece is placed under pressure, so the glue will be able to cure correctly.
The machine is given determining information that allows it to act according to the piece being created. Throughout the process of folding and gluing each section, the device carefully tracks the blank as it is transformed. If any piece does not meet the predetermined criteria of the machine, it will be rejected, allowing for a strong level of quality assurance.
Parts of a Folder-Gluer
A folder-gluer machine is modular and can be made of different components, depending on its intended use. Some of the significant parts of the device include the following.
- The feeder is one of the essential parts of a folder-gluer machine. If a die-cut blank is not precisely loaded into the machine, every process will be carried out imprecisely. Various types of feeders can be used for different materials.
- The pre-breakers are used to pre-break the creased lines, making the die-cut piece much easier to fold during the process.
- The crash-lock module is also an integral part of a folder-gluer machine. This type of module is installed on folder-gluer machines that are used to manufacture crash-lock boxes. The crash-lock module is responsible for folding the base flaps of these boxes.
- The Gyrobox unit can rotate the die-cut blanks at a high rate of speed, which allows for single-pass processing in different types of industries.
- Combifolders feature rotating hooks that help fold the flaps of multi-point boxes.
- The folding section finishes the final fold.
- The transfer section is responsible for removing any pieces that do not conform to the strict confines of the project. This section will remove any parts that are damaged or not folded correctly.
- The delivery section is the final destination of all projects and places pressure on the stream to ensure there is strong adhesion where the glue was applied.
There is also a range of other parts that can be installed on a folder-gluer. These parts are used for more individualized projects and may include some of the following.
- Loaders or batch inverters
- Robot palletizers
- Specialty feeders
What Should You Look for When Purchasing a Folder-Gluer?
Because of the advanced processes they carry out and the expense, it is imperative individuals know what to look for when choosing a folder-gluer machine. Whether it is a new company or an existing one updating their machines, they should consider the following information before making a purchase.
Check the Craftsmanship of the Machine
The craftsmanship of the machine is one of the most important criteria to consider when purchasing a folder-gluer. Most companies buy this type of machine because they have a high volume of work to complete. If the craftsmanship is lacking, the machine is not going to be able to stand up to the demands of the project and is more likely to break down often.
Does the machine have a solid framework? Are there plenty of cross members? What is the position of the machine to the bottom of the floor? You must choose a machine with a solid framework design. The lower the machine is to the ground, the fewer the vibrations and the more precise the end product.
As a word of caution, do not purchase a folder-gluer with castings or angle iron as this type of construction is more likely to produce heavy vibrations that will loosen bolts and screws over time, leading to machine failure.
Check the Safety Features
Because folder-gluers have moving parts, they can lead to injuries. Thankfully, most machine manufacturers put plenty of safety features in place to protect users and make the machines safer to operate. Check for the following before making a purchase.
- Ensure all the belts and pinch points are carefully guarded.
- The machine should feature a warning sound when the operator depresses the start button.
- The machine should offer a two-press start system to give the operator time to move before the device starts.
- Check for a lockout E-start that requires the operator to restart the machine manually after a jam.
These are some of the safety features that are considered necessities when operating any folder-gluer machine. If the machine you are viewing does not offer the above standard, make sure to inquire if they can be added.
Check What Blanks the Machine Can Run
Some folder-gluer machines are meant to process paper blanks primarily, but some machines handle a wide array of materials. It is crucial individuals carefully check to see what materials the machine will run. They also should check for the following before making a purchase.
- The belt speed should be at least 400 meters a minute. Some machine belts move much faster, with speeds up to 600.
- There should be extra tooling that helps to guide the carton and hold it down when needed. Some machines lack this tooling, and operators end up having to use baling wire and tape to keep blanks in place. A lack of tooling can impede the operator in getting their work done correctly.
- Make sure there are at least twelve folding forms and six finger assemblies. If a machine offers less than these, do not purchase. The more arms and six finger assemblies, the better the device will be able to control the blanks and adequately fold and glue them.
- A right-hand lower glue pot is also a helpful addition that makes the operator’s job much more manageable.
Even if a business is small, knowing what blanks can be run and how fast the folder-gluer can be changed for different presentations is vital. The more a person knows about the machine, the better equipped they will be to make the right purchase.
Check the Service After the Sale
When purchasing a folder-gluer, individuals should become customers for life. The manufacturer must provide training with every purchase. Learning how to operate the machine effectively will help to prolong its lifespan, prevent expensive breakdowns, and keep operators safe.
Why Choose SBL?
SBL is a company that produces some of the most-respected machines in the packaging industry. These machines are built to exacting detail, and SBL stands behind every one they create.
Each component of the machine is crafted with the highest level of expertise. The company understands these machines must meet demand, and they have worked to perfect their operations to improve speed and preciseness.
SBL offers a range of machine options for customization to meet the needs of different manufacturers. From the first day of purchase, and beyond, we continue to be there for our customers, should any problems arise during operation. Many companies rely on folder-gluer machines produced by SBL.
Folder-gluer machines are instrumental in producing an array of products created from different types of materials. From boxes to envelopes, these machines take a die-cut blank, folding it and gluing it until the finished product has been created according to the pre-set determinations of the machine.
A folder-gluer offers a high level of quality control and will reject any pieces that do not measure up to the demands. With these machines, companies can produce up to 5,000 or more pieces an hour, allowing for a high level of efficiency in many types of workplaces.