A Basic Glossary Of Binding Terms

If you’re curious about bookbinding or are just getting started with it, you’re probably wondering what all these new terms mean. What is meant by “color coil”? What’s so important about “disengageable dies”? And what on Earth do you do with a pair of “crimping pliers”? This basic glossary will introduce you to some of these terms so you can have a better idea of what bookbinding entails.

Binding element. This term refers to the materials used to bind a book. Some examples include a wire spine, color coil, or plastic comb.

Color coil. A color coil is a type of supply used in spiral binding. Coils come in numerous colors and need to be used in conjunction with a pair of crimping coils to properly finish off a book. They’re a popular choice with creative types and they allow your books to lay flat.

Comb opener. A device that opens plastic combs to prepare them for the bookbinding process. A comb opener can either be part of a machine or a standalone unit.

Crimping pliers. A pair of crimping pliers is necessary when working with color coils. After the spine has been inserted into the document, you need to trim the excess plastic with the crimpers and twist up the ends for security.

Disengageable dies. Dies are the things that punch your paper. Having a machine with disengageable dies will allow you to choose which dies punch and which ones don’t. This comes in handy when you’re working with paper that’s not letter-sized. These types of dies are frequently only found on higher-end machines.

Fastback. Fastback machines allow you to create beautiful, customized hardback and softcover books. These machines use tape to bind your documents.

GBC. GBC stands for General Binding Corporation, a company that’s famous for its comb binding machines and supplies. The company also manufactures ZipBind and ProClick spines which can be used with a lot of different devices.

Hole punch. Hole punches prepare your work for finishing by punching the appropriate hole pattern for your chosen bookbinding method. Hole punching is necessary for comb, spiral/color coil, and wire binding.

Interchangeable dies. These dies can be totally removed from your machine. You can then replace them with new dies, if necessary.

Margin control. Margin control, which is sometimes known as depth of punch margin control, more or less dictates where your paper will be punched. Having this feature on a machine will allow you to place the holes in the right place, leading to the production of books that are easier to read and have securely bound pages.

Pitch. This term denotes how many holes per inch there are in your paper. (It’s essentially a punching pattern.) For example, a sheet that has a 3:1 pitch will have 3 holes per inch.

Plastic combs. The supplies are used in plastic comb binding. Most combs have 19 rings, although there are some that have less or more for special-sized documents. Combs are available in many colors and can bind up to 425 pages.

Thermal binding. This method involves using a special cover that contains glue. When the glue is melted via contact with a thermal device, it secures the pages of a document to the spine.

Throat. The length of a machine’s throat will determine how big your books will be. That is, unless the throat is open. In that case, your books can be almost any size.

Unibind. A thermal system that’s easy to use and produces hardcover books. This system can bind multiple books at once and is very technologically advanced.

VeloBind. A strong, secure bookbinding method that utilizes a strip of plastic to bind the book together. Documents cannot be edited unless the strip is totally removed.

Waste tray. A tray that catches the waste as paper is being punched. It can be emptied later.

Wire-o. A term associated with wire binding. This method goes by several different names including twin-loop, wire-o, and double-o.

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