At some point in your life you have probably sat down to a table for a paper folding party. This usually involves a group of employees, or interns, grabbing stacks of printed paper and folding them for mailing or distribution. This can usually take several hours to a few days, depending on the amount of paper to be folded. Usually you end up with a lot of crooked folds and several paper cuts.
An invention was created several years ago to remedy this problem. It is commonly referred to as a paper folder. It is a machine that uses a combination of a motor and folding plates to fold the paper for you. Paper folders range in size from manual setup to fully automated machines.
Desktop paper folders are compact machines, usually smaller than a printer that administrative assistants and help my paper other employees can use to occasionally fold paper. Although not designed for mass paper folding, they are great for sending out occasional letters. These machines usually cost no more that a few hundred dollars.
Friction-feed folders use rubber rollers to grab paper, pull it into the machine and fold it. These machines range in size and capabilities, but are all much faster than manually folding paper. Friction-feed models use two folding plates. These plates can be adjusted to accommodate various folds, from letter and Z folds to single and gate folds.
Friction feed paper folders are broken down into manual, semi-automatic and automatic. The manual folders require the folding plates to be adjusted by hand. This usually involves loosening a few thumbscrews and sliding folding plates for the fold being done. The semi-automatic folding machines still require some manual setup, but an indicator light or control panel makes it easier to select the fold. The fully automatic paper folders adjust themselves after you enter the desired fold on the control panel.
Friction-feed paper folders do not work well with glossy paper as the rollers can sometimes slip on the slick surface causing a paper jam. This is where pneumatic (air-feed) folders come into play. Pneumatic models us an air compressor to help suck paper through the machine. Pneumatic models are great for high volume jobs and the folding of slick/glossy paper.
Although paper folders are a great way to fold paper, many businesses have a hard time justifying the cost. Paper folders range in price from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the type. If your business does fold a lot of paper by hand, remember that you are paying employees for time they could otherwise be doing other work. Most find that after a year or two, the machine has paid for itself.