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What are Coil Binding Machines?

By Shannon Kietzman
Updated May 17, 2024
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Coil binding machines bind documents by aligning the pages, punching holes, inserting a coil, and then crimping and cutting the coil ends. Also known as wire binders, coil binding machines are usually manually operated and capable of binding from 90 to 300 pages. Coil binding machines are available with various comb diameters. The higher the comb diameter, the larger the number of pages the machine is able to bind. Coil binding is one of the most common forms of binding technology, and the one used to bind spiral notebooks.

One type of coil binding machine is the twin loop wire coil binding machine. Twin loop binding is accomplished by punching the pages, laying them into the wire element, and pulling a handle to close the wire. This type of coil binding machine is available in a 32-hole punch using smaller wires or a 21-hole punch using larger wires. Documents bound by twin loop binding lie flat, and pages can fold back 360 degrees.

Twin loop coil binding machines can be purchased as two separate machines, a punch machine and a wire closer coil binding machine. Alternatively, a binding system can have everything contained in one machine. Coil binding machines are most often used for low to mid volume binding in offices, schools, churches, and print shops. Using separate punch and wire closing coil binding machines allows a greater punch capacity for larger jobs.

Plastic comb binding machines are another common type of coil binding machines. With these coil binding machines, a comb is inserted in the machine and a handle spreads the comb open. The pages are punched and laid over the comb. Then, a pull of the handle closes the comb.

This system also allows the document to lie flat while the pages are folded back. It has the added advantage of easy document editing. Plastic comb binders are also available as separate machines, a punch and a comb opener for larger jobs, or all in one binding systems for lower to medium volume jobs.

The newest type of coil binding machine is the plastic coil binder. These coil binding machines work by punching pages, inserting the coil, and snipping the ends. Then, the coil is spun onto the document by a spinning roller. This type of coil binding machine also produces documents that lie flat and fold back, and it is available as either separate machines or an all-in-one binding system.

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Discussion Comments
By anon986829 — On Jan 28, 2015

Is it possible to redo a coil binding? I have an already coil bind textbook that is size and weight of a phone book. I wish to separate the book into two.

By MissDaphne — On Jul 20, 2011

@robbie21 - I agree with you. I remember my elementary school using those machines. I was really excited the year we got to write and color our own books and then the teacher bound them for us!

Something else I really like about the plastic combs is that you can pretty easily remove them to recycle the paper, or even to reuse it as scratch paper if it was only printed on one side.

For offices, comb and coil binding systems aren't the only option. I worked in an office once that had a sort of glue binding machine. You would stack the pages neatly together and insert them in a special one-piece cover. Then you would drop the whole thing into the machine and it would heat the glue and bind everything together. If you needed to un-bind for some reason (this was a tax office, so if we made a mistake we needed to get out the W-2s from the bound customer copy), you just had to put it back in the machine and it would loosen the glue so the pages could be removed.

By robbie21 — On Jul 20, 2011

A plastic coil binding machine is a nice, not-too-expensive way for an office to make their publications look professional, but in my experience it doesn't lie 100% flat when the pages are folded back (so that just one is showing). It lies nice and flat when fully open, though. The plastic comb has a solid part that gets in the way when the pages are folded back.

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