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Printing Industry Exchange ( is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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Archive for the ‘Binder Printing’ Category

How to Choose the Best Company for Binder Printing

Thursday, May 27th, 2021


Binder printing
gets its name from the way in which individual sheets of books or notes are fastened together. All print pieces remain flat as a result of the binding process. It is instrumental to make any book completely functional. However, not every company that prints the book necessarily has the best facilities to bind it as well. The type of paper being used for binding is also dependent on the kind of printing project.

Aesthetics are Very Important

Not every company which provides binder printing and book printing services can provide excellent results. It is natural for every publishing company to get excellent prints for book covers. These covers are responsible for motivating buyers to buy the books. Overall, good quality of work is responsible for the cover, the inside pages of a book, and its overall success. The easiest way to notice quality is in the case of the printing paper.

Quick Turnaround Time

Different factors are able to determine how quickly printing and binding can be done. One of these factors is the availability of a large number of staff and fast machines, which enable the outputs to be delivered within 24 hours. Depending on the business requirement, it becomes necessary to choose the most appropriate option. However, even if books run into hundreds of papers, even the best companies do not take more than 72 hours.

Suitable Prices

The worth of any service is determined on the basis of their price. What matters is that a suitable mix of quality and price is made available. The price of binding and printing needs to be known, and if it does not match the average range, it would be best to choose another vendor. Even if the price is higher, there needs to be a valid justification for the same. Also, in case the price is too low and it is not promotional, there may be something wrong.

A lot of people prefer to have e-books these days in place of bound books as the latter tend to fall apart. This is not completely true, and is likely to happen only when there has been shoddy workmanship.

Print Binding Methods

Book publishers would benefit by getting to know about the following print binding methods:

  • Spiral Binding – This single piece of plastic coil makes a full circle through punch holes at the edge of every page. Such coils do not lose their shape and are available in a variety of colors. This method is suitable for almost all paper types.
  • Perfect Binding – This popular method is used for magazines, paperback books, and other kinds of soft cover books. Pages remain glued to the spine or cover.
  • Comb Binding – C-shaped plastic spines help to bind pages together here. The spine can be imprinted with a title in this method. This technique is also suitable for different types of paper.

Lay-Flat Binding – The book is kept flat on a table when opened, making it perfect for manuals and cookbooks. This method is relatively more expensive than the others.

5 Considerations to Make When Choosing Printing and Binding Services

Friday, June 26th, 2020

Some people imagine that all book printing and binding services are the same. When they want their book to be printed, they will simply call the first number for printing services and hire them. This is the wrong approach and it can affect the sale of the book. To choose the right company to do your printing and binding, here are some considerations to make.

Aesthetics Matter

Not every company that provides book printing and binding services can produce visually stunning work. The cover of the book in particular matters a lot. Think of the people you want to buy the book. Will they be comfortable holding a book that is not beautiful?

You need to seek out a printing company that will deliver quality work, right from the cover of the book to the pages inside. Quality should also be visible in the type of printing paper that is used.

How Long Will it Take?

So many factors can determine how long the printing and binding will take. Some printing companies have fast machines and staff so they can guarantee you that the work will be done in under 24 hours.

The best printing companies will not exceed 72 hours even for books with hundreds of pages. If you are in a hurry o have the book printed and bound, you need to find out from the service provider how long it will take them to complete the task.

How Efficient is Customer Service?

Like any other business, a printing company needs to have customer support. Right from the time you are searching for a service provider, you need to be certain that the company can respond to your questions and provide satisfactory answers. Find out what means of communication they use. Do they answer the phone when it rings? Do they respond to emails within a short time? Does the website have FAQs that would give immediate answers to simple questions like how long printing and binding take?

Try to make an order on phone or email and see how long it will take for the order to be confirmed and that will let you know how fast and efficient they are.

The Pricing Needs to be Justified

Pricing is key in determining just about every service. You need to find out what the common price for printing and binding is. If the service provider you contact is offering a price that is not within the average range, then consider finding another one. If the price is much higher than the rest, find out why that is and consider if that is justified. If it is very low, find out if it is a promotional price and if it isn’t, there is likely to be a negative reason for that.


Many people will say they prefer eBooks to hardcopies because hardcopies can fall apart. That is not entirely true. It mainly depends on the workmanship. Books that have been put together using quality material and expert workmanship can last long if they are not mistreated.

In Conclusion

Most of the considerations can be confirmed by asking other people for recommendations. It will make finding the service much faster. You can also add your own considerations to the vetting process.

Custom Binders: How to Specify 3-Ring Binder Jobs

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Once in a while as a print buyer or graphic designer you may be asked to produce a 3-ring binder, perhaps for a convention or seminar. How do you communicate your needs to your commercial printing supplier? First, you break the job down into its component parts: the binder, the text pages, the tabs, and the assembly process. I’d suggest that you contact a vendor that focuses on 3-ring binder production since this is a specialty item, and not every printer produces binders.

The Binders Themselves (Materials and Ring Mechanisms)

As newer plastics have been developed, your options for binder materials have expanded. You can order high-end, turned-edge binders with leather, fabric, or paper glued over thick chipboard binder boards. The edges of the cover materials extend over the edges of the binder boards and are pasted onto the interior panels of the binders. Then a separate sheet of paper covers the front and back inner panels of the binder.

You can also choose binders with the cardboard binder boards sealed in vinyl and crimped along the edges. A variation on this is the view binder, which provides additional clear pockets on the covers and spine. You can insert offset or digitally printed graphic panels into these pockets and then seal (or not seal) them.

Turned edge and vinyl binders can also be manufactured with interior pockets for business cards or CDs. These can be positioned on the inside covers of the binder or even on the back cover. In addition, plastic inserts can be purchased with pockets of various sizes and shapes for hanging on the ring mechanisms within the binders.

You may also want to consider whether to buy sheet lifters (these lift the covers of the binders slightly above the printed text sheets to protect the ink or toner and keep it from offsetting onto the binder covers).

As an alternative, you may select polyvinyl binders. In this case, the binder material is thick enough to completely replace the cardboard binder boards, so the entire binder is plastic. However, depending on the thickness of the plastic, this binder material may be flexible (or somewhat floppy). If you want rigid panels, there are binders made with thick, rigid front and back plastic panels.

Things to Consider When Specifying Binders

  1. Consider how many binders you will need. This will help you decide whether to have the printer screen print the binders (for long press-runs printed directly onto the vinyl or poly binders), or laser print the binders (for short press-runs, with the graphic panels offset or digitally printed on paper inserts that are slipped into the clear plastic exterior pockets of the binders).
  2. Some of the higher-end turned edge binders (fabric or leather) can be further enhanced with foil stamping, embossing, or appliques.
  3. Consider what kinds of rings you will want. Depending on the binder manufacturer’s selection, you can choose between “D” rings and “O” rings (and even slanted “D” rings), which can be attached to the spine or the back panel of the binders. Rings can be made of steel or plastic, depending on the style of the binder and its manufacturer. For vinyl or turned-edge binders, the rivets used to attach the ring mechanism to the binder can be exposed or covered by the binder fabric (this affects the appearance only, not the strength).
  4. An interesting option for binders is the “easel binder.” In this product, the binder boards are split horizontally. In this case, the top (or bottom) half of the binder boards is not attached to the central ring mechanism. This allows either the top or bottom portion of the binder to fold away from the metal ring mechanism, forming a support for the binder rings, text pages, and divider tabs, and holding them at approximately a 45 degree angle, perfect for “hands-free” reading (and ideal for a cookbook). Other designs for easel binders may involve bending the front and back panels of the binder into a “tent” assembly, with the rings at the top and the text pages hanging forward and downward.
  5. Finally, consider how you will print on the binder and where (front, back, spine, or maybe the inside covers). All of this information will affect the final price.

Specifying the Divider Pages and Tabs

Consider how many divider pages and tabs you will need based on how you will want to break up the text pages inserted in the binder. For example, you might have a 200-page print book divided into five sections. Each one will have a flat divider page that is thicker than the text-weight paper of the book. You can print on the “body” of the divider page or leave it blank. Each divider will also have a short, die-cut “tab” that extends beyond the pages in the binder (this is usually printed). The tabs will probably be laminated with mylar to strengthen them. To be safe, you may want to also laminate the holes through which the ring mechanism will be attached to the divider pages.

When you specify the tabs, you will need to tell the printer how many ink colors to print: 1/0 or 1/1 (one color on one side or both sides of the dividers), 4/0 or 4/4 (four colors on one side or both sides of the dividers), etc. Also specify whether to print on the tabs only or both the tabs and the body of the divider pages. All of this information will affect the overall cost.

One good starting point for the divider page paper would be 110# Index stock. It’s thick enough, and it’s a relatively inexpensive paper stock. Your binder vendor can make other suggestions as appropriate.

When producing the InDesign art files for this bank of five tabs (or whatever other number of tabs you will need; “bank” is the printer’s term for a series of tabs in a binder), you will start by dividing the vertical dimension of the insert pages by the number of tabs. For example, if you have an 11” sheet to be inserted into the binder, each tab will be approximately 2.2” wide (unless they overlap each other). You will want to discuss the exact width and depth of the tabs with your commercial printing vendor before you prepare your final InDesign art files.

Pages of Text to Be Inserted into the Binder

We’ve almost forgotten the contents of the binder, the reason it exists in the first place.

Let’s say you are printing an 8.5” x 11” book that is 200 pages long. Your printer will translate this from pages into leaves (or sheets of paper: each sheet is two pages, front and back). The number of pages will determine the binder spine size. (For example, one local manufacturer specifies the capacity of a 2” binder as 200 sheets (i.e., 400 pages). Granted, the actual capacity will depend on the thickness of the paper. Therefore, decide whether you will want 50#, 60#, or 70# white offset (or any other paper) as the base stock from which to produce the 200-page text (or any other length) to be inserted into the 3-ring binder.

You will then want to have the printer drill holes (three holes for a 3-ring binder, or more or fewer as appropriate). This is done by the printer on a 3-hole punch.

Assembly of the Entire Package

Once the binders, divider tabs, and text have been produced, they need to be assembled into a usable product. This usually involves handwork, which gets expensive.

To minimize costs and maximize protection in transit, this is what I have always done for my own print brokering clients.

  1. I have the text for each binder shrink wrapped to chipboard after being three-hole drilled.
  2. Then I have the printer place the divider tabs in the back of each binder (in the proper order but not on the rings) so neither the tabs nor the ring mechanism will be damaged if the transport is rough.
  3. Then I have the printer place the shrink wrapped text within the binder but not on the rings.
  4. Then the printer packs up the binders.

An alternative would be to pack all the text blocks (i.e., the inserts), divider tabs, and binders in separate cartons; however, this would leave a lot more work for the client to do. Keep in mind that even this amount of assembly will cost extra. After all, it’s labor-intensive handwork.

I would strongly encourage you to not have the printer collate the tab dividers within the text blocks and then hang the dividers and text blocks onto the actual binder rings. Any rough handling in transit could severely damage the binders, inserts, and tab dividers.

Custom Printed 3 Ring Binders: Materials, Rings, and Printing Options

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

So you have been asked to design a binder and find a three ring binder printing company to manufacture the job. What are your options? Where do you even start? First, separate the job into two components, the binder boards and the rings or posts.

The main types of binder covers for printed 3 ring binders

There are three main types of binder covers. Think back to the blue canvas binders that were popular in grade school. These were composed of canvas stretched over chipboard. The canvas came up over the edge and was glued down onto the interior cover of the binder. Then a sheet of patterned paper covered the left and right interior faces of the binder. These are called “turned edge binders,” and various kinds of fabric and other materials can be glued onto the outside of these printed 3 ring binders. (A slightly higher-end version of this genre of binder is the leather, or faux-leather, binder. In this case, the seams are sewn, and padding of some sort is placed between the binder boards and the material covering the binders.)

Another popular style is the vinyl binder, which is also based on a chipboard structure (spine, front boards, and back boards), but instead of having fabric glued onto the outside of the boards, these binders are covered with vinyl. The vinyl is then heat sealed along all seams.

A third kind of binder, which is a relatively new design, is the poly or plastic binder. These custom printed 3 ring binders are just made of thick (but still a bit floppy) plastic with no chipboard structure. Other binders of this sort have thicker panels that are rigid. Your three ring binder printing company can screen print your logo, text, or anything else you need onto this surface.

The two most popular styles of rings for custom printed 3 ring binders

Custom printed 3 ring binders usually come with two options for rings: “O” rings and “D” rings. The “D” rings are often slanted. The rings can be attached to the spine of the binder or to the back of the binder, and the rivets holding the ring mechanism to the binder can be covered by the leather, faux-leather, or vinyl fabric, or they can be exposed.

In addition, the rings come in multiple sizes. You can get 1/2″, 3/4”, 1”, 1 1/2”, 2”, 2 1/2″, and 3” rings in your custom printed 3 ring binders. Some larger binders even have 4” rings.

The goal in choosing a ring size is to make sure your binder will hold enough pages. Just to give you an approximate benchmark, a 1″ ring will hold about 200 sheets of 50# offset paper.

Alternatives to rings

Most looseleaf binders fall into the ring categories noted above. However, if your goal is to collect a number of equal sized magazines (a year’s subscription of a magazine, for instance) in one place, you have two more options. If the magazines have been 3-hole drilled, then a “post binder” will collect all issues between the binder boards. Usually having a much wider spine than ring binders, post binders contain posts that extend from the front cover board all the way through the drill holes of all the magazines and then through the back cover board. Three sets of screws attached to the three posts hold everything together.

If your magazines have not been three-hole drilled, you have one more option. These binders contain a mechanism (called a “metal”) that holds a series of rods parallel to one another, from the top to the bottom of the spine. If you unhook the top of a post from the mechanism, you can slip the center spread of a magazine under it. If you do this to a series of 10 or 20 magazines, you can essentially bind these magazines into the metal mechanism and within the binder boards, yielding what looks like a case-bound book.

Printing on the binder covers

If you are decorating leather, canvas, or faux-leather custom printed 3 ring binders, you will probably choose some form of foil stamping or screen printing. Keep in mind that dies for foil stamping can be expensive ($350 to $500). To get an accurate cost, measure the area covered by the foil (in square inches), and tell your three ring binder printing company whether the front, back, and/or spine will be foil stamped. An even better option would be to give your supplier a laser proof or a mock-up of the job.

If you have chosen a vinyl binder, you can screen print on the vinyl, or if you have chosen a vinyl binder with clear pockets, you can print your type, logos, or other artwork on inserts (via inkjet equipment or offset printing) and then slip these inserts into the pockets (and even heat seal the inserts in place).

For the poly or plastic binders, you would normally screen print your design on the binder covers.

Don’t forget the sheet lifters

The 4″ (more or less) plastic inserts in front of and behind the paper sheets in a binder lift the binder boards away from the printed paper. In this way they keep the toner of the laser printing from offsetting from the paper onto the materials of the binder.

You can find a three ring binder printing company online or through a trusted offset or digital printing company.


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