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Plastic Coil Binding - what is it and what are the pros and cons?

Plastic coil binding, also known as Koil binding, plastikoil binding, spiral binding, plastic spirals and other various names, is an innovative and fast binding method that has never really taken off in the UK. Why? We’re not sure, as its advantages over plastic comb binding and wire binding are numerous and it is a clever, well designed system that has greater durability and colour options than other methods. Here we break down a few myths and look at the pros and cons of such a system.

What is plastic coil binding?

Plastic coil binding has existed since the 1960s, starting in a small way in the USA and quickly finding a new market for this interesting plastic product instead of the traditional wire bindings. The new plastic spiral binding meant books could open 360degrees, lay flat and, with improvements in materials over the years, the plastic spirals were virtually indestructible, didn’t mind being crushed or pulled and were available in literally hundreds of colours. You can view our stocked range here in the basic colours, all others are available to order.

The advantages of plastic coil binding are well worth listing:

  1. Unlimited colours! The plastic material can be matched to any company brand colour, with 36 regular colours stocked and almost any colour, including Pantone matches, available to order. Transparent coils are extremely popular, giving a modern twist to any document.
  2. Plastic coils are extremely durable and hard-wearing. The springy tough plastic used means that coils can be pulled, stretched, stamped on and still spring back into perfect shape. This contrasts with traditional wire binding, where the wire can easily be crushed out of shape or even pulled out of the binding, rendering the document useless.
  3. Children safe. Plastic binding is widely used in schools, hospitals and play centres where the sharp ends of wire binding represent a real safety hazard. The plastic and closed crimped ends of coil binding mean that coil bound books are safe for even very small children.
  4. Long lasting. Plastic coil just goes on and on! We have old manuals and books bound with plastic coil many years ago and they are still as bright and strong now as they were originally. With plastic comb binding you can expect to see the combs crack and go brittle after as little as 5 years, with constant use they can break down much quicker.
  5. Once your document is bound with plastic coil the ends are crimped and no pages can be added or changed without redoing the full binding. Traditional plastic comb binding is the opposite, pages can be pulled out, added or reordered just by pulling on the binding. Horses for courses, but when your document needs simple security coil binding wins every time.

Are there any cons to plastic coil binding? Um… we’re not aware of many! We address a few common questions about drawbacks below and hope we make a few of them clear.

  1. Price – are they more expensive than wire binding? The short answer is no. Plastic coil in standard stocked colours (black, white, transparent) is cheaper than Renz binding wires. If you are used to buying wires in bulk in our trade packs of 250 then coil may be more expensive, depending on the size. Coils are more expensive than plastic comb binding for the simple reason you are getting a far betting binding product!
  2. Too simple. Amazingly we have had customers ask us if coil binding is too simple to be true – whether there is some catch in price or method. There isn’t – it is a tried and tested system that has been around for decades and works every time.
  3. Does it take ages to bind? No, pretty much exactly the same as wire or comb binding. You still need to punch your document then the coil is fed into the document via spinning rollers. One the coil is in the document the ends of the coil are ‘crimped’ (just squashed with special crimping pliers). Your document is then finished and secure.
  4. I’ll have to buy new equipment and all the cost of setting up a new system. Yes, this is true. However, if your equipment for wire binding is coming to the end of its lifespan and you are considering replacing it then it would not cost any more to put coil in instead. It’s always worth considering the pros and cons of different binding systems just to see what is available. If unsure, we can help, we have been selling many different binding systems for over 20 years and have long experience in what works best.

What machinery will I need?

Coil binding machines are based on the same principles as wire binding or comb binding – 1. Punching. 2. Inserting. 3. Closing (or crimping in case of coil).

You will need to buy a punch that is suitable or coil, or if you have an automated punching line then you can simply just add a die for coil punching. The insertion is often part of a punching machine, rollers spin the coil into the punched document then finally you need to crimp each end of the coil to finish the document.

There are many machines and systems available, if you are unsure of what will work best for you call us and we can talk you through the options. Remember that Presco is always happy to do no-obligation quotations or send you full information on the range of systems available.

Summary

We think coil is great – we really do! When we introduced it into our range in 2009 we were told that it wouldn’t sell. Well, it has done – certainly not in the huge quantities that we think it deserves but we will keep spreading the word about the advantages of coil binding and hopefully many  others will agree with us about all that it has to offer! View Presco’s range of consumables for plastic coil here.

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