Archive for July, 2012

Is Thermal Lamination Film Universally Accepted By All Hot Laminators?

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Pouch LaminatorsI recently had a customer ask me if you had to use the laminating film indicated in the laminator’s manual. The manual indicated brand, size, thickness and a few other things. Most manufacturers want you to use their laminating film. GBC is a prime example of this. What many people don’t realize is that most laminating film (found here), regardless of brand, will work in your machine. There are just a few numbers you will need to be aware of before placing an order.

So why do manufacturers want you to use “their” film? It’s all about money. It’s kind of like my Volkswagen’s owner’s manual, which indicates I should have my car’s oil changed by an authorized Volkswagen technician. In reality, just about anyone can change the oil on my car. So now that we have established that you can use other brands of film with your laminator, what else should you look out for?

First off, ensure that the film you are buying is thermal (hot) laminating film and that your laminator is a thermal (hot) laminator. Pressure sensitive film, aka cold laminating film, is not universally accepted in all laminators.

There are a few numbers that you will need to look up when shopping around for laminating film. The first is the mil thickness. A mil is a thousandth of an inch (1 mil = 0.001″). Laminating film usually comes in 1.5, 3, 5, 7 and 10 mil thicknesses. Most pouch and roll laminators can use 1.5, 3 and 5-mil film. The 7 and 10 are a little to thick for some laminators, so be sure your laminator specifically says it can use 7 or 10 mil film before purchasing it.

Roll LaminatorsIf you are using a roll laminator, be sure that the core diameter size of the film that you are buying fits the diameter of mandrel your laminator uses. The core of the film slides over the laminator’s mandrel. Most 8″ to 27″ wide roll laminators use a 1″ diameter core size. Larger wide format laminators use a 2 ¼” up to a 3″ diameter core size.

If you are using a roll laminator, ensure the roll width is the right size for your laminator. A 27″ roll laminator can typically use any laminator width up to 27″. This means you can typically use smaller width rolls as well.

If you are using a pouch laminator, I recommend using a pouch that is ¼” to ½” smaller than the laminator’s maximum width. If your pouch laminator is 12″ wide, and you use a 12″ wide pouch, the likeness of a crooked misfeed is high and can result in a jam. Cutting that width down by up to ½” allows a little room for error.

You can find our entire selection of pouch lamination film here and roll lamination film here. I understand that this may be a little confusing, so please don’t hesitate to speak with one of our Laminator Specialists at 1-800-658-8788 for answers to your questions. We have been in business since 1980 and know a lot about laminators. We can help match up the correct supplies for your machine.

Martin Yale 3800AP & 3800FC Alternatives

Friday, July 20th, 2012

Martin Yale 3800AP & 3800FCOver the past decade, one of our most popular perforators and slitters has been the 3800AP (Auto Perforator) and the 3800FC (Forms Cutter). A little over a year ago Martin Yale discontinued these two machines. We still have customers looking for these machines and unfortunately Martin Yale has never released a replacement. So what do you do if you need an automatic perforator or an automatic forms cutter? Luckily there are still a few good options.

The Martin Yale 3800AP and 3800FC were both basically the same machine, but shipped with different attachments. The 3800AP had perforating wheels (10 perfs per inch) and the 3800FC had slitter wheels. These wheels were interchangeable between machines and they could even be equipped with scoring wheels. People used these to perforate, cut and score literature, tickets, coupons, marketing material and much more.

One of the most popular alternatives to the 3800AP is the Count PerfMaster (found here). The Perfmaster can be set up with perforating, scoring and slitting wheels. It has a 19″ wide feed capacity, which is very similar to the Martin Yale’s 18″ capacity. It can be equipped with up to 4 perforating wheels or scoring wheels and can easily be switched from perforating to scoring and back again. This machine has a feed tray that pulls single sheets in at a time (similar to the Martin Yale). The Count PerfMaster operates at 26,000 sheets per hour, which is more than double the 12,000 sheets per hour of the 3800AP and 3800FC.

While I recommend the Permaster as a great replacement to the Martin Yale 3800AP and 3800FC, we have some nice higher end machines you may want to consider as well:

  • Formax FD 572 (found here) – This is a cut sheet paper cutter and slitter that can be used with a wide range of paper sizes. It can be programmed with up to 100 different custom settings and is available with an optional perforator assembly.
  • Duplo Sheet Cutter V580 Cut Sheet Slitter (found here) – This cutter can create multiple cuts or perforations on a sheet of paper and is extremely popular for people crating cards, business cards, tickets and other material. It can be programmed with custom jobs and is extremely easy to set up and operate.
  • Count Auto Pro Plus I (found here) – This is a high-speed perorating and scoring machine designed for industrial and commercial applications. While it perforates and scores out of the box, it can be equipped with a wide variety of slit blades and perforating blades (18 teeth, 33 teeth and 45 teeth). This machine also comes equipped with a numbering machine.

Hopefully these high-quality alternatives help keep you scoring, perforationg and slitting your projects. If you have questions about any of the above mentioned machines, please feel free to call us at 1-800-658-8788.

Top 3 Best External Vacuum Sealers 2012

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Minipack Cyclone 40 External Vacuum SealerIf you need a vacuum sealer to package food such as beef, fish, vegetables, fruits and other food, an external vacuum sealer (found here) is a great option. These machines make it possible for people at home, who can’t afford large chamber sealers, to still benefit from vacuum sealing. At ABC Office, we offer several vacuum sealing machines, but there are three specific models that I feel excel above all the rest.

I have used several vacuum sealers, everywhere from small desktop department store models up to industrial chamber sealers. While some of the department store “cheapies” are OK for the occasional package, the motors in these smaller machines simply aren’t up to the task for anyone who wants to package food on a regular basis. I have found that many of the cheap machines’ motors simply burn out after not much use. Many of them are incapable of producing a seal wider than 2mm thick.

The three models I personally recommend are all made by Minipack. These are the Minipack Cyclone 30, Minipack Cyclone 40 and Minipack Cyclone 50. These machines feature durable Italian construction, tough motors and the ability to be used on a daily basis.

I would like to cover a few reasons why I like each of these external vacuum sealers so much.

Best External Vacuum Sealers 2012

  1. Minipack Cyclone 30 (found here) – This vacuum sealer has a 13″ sealing width and creates a nice 4mm wide seal that is perfect for packaging food. It uses a dry piston, combined with an internal cooling fan, designed to package up to 2 items a minute. It features water resistant controls and is capable of being set up with custom vacuum time and sealing time. It also includes a moisture collector. The external shell of this sealer is made from aluminum and it weighs about 12 pounds shipped. This is a great machine for use at home.
  2. Minipack Cyclone 40 (found here) – The Cyclone 40 from Minipack is a17″ wide external vacuum sealer. This machine has a large sealing width for an external sealer and it is perfect for packaging steaks, fish and other food items. It uses a 350 watt motor that features a dry piston design and can package up to 2 items a minute. The Cyclone 40 features a wide array of programmable features, which isn’t common in an external design sealer. Simply set the sealing time and vacuum time, insert your bag and let the machine do the rest. This is great for home or business.
  3. Minipack Cyclone 50 (found here) – This external sealer has one of the largest sealing widths available in an external design. The Cyclone 50 has a 21″ sealing width, allowing it to be able to package larger items or bags full of several smaller items. It features a sealing bar that creates a 4mm seal and a dry pump piston that helps to remove the air. The 370-watt motor includes a cooling fan to keep things running cool during repetitive use. The Minipack Cyclone 50 will allow you to program the sealing time, vacuum time and has water resistant controls.  This is great for packaging food for retail sale, storage purposes, transportation purposes and more.

All of our Cyclone external sealers have a great track record. It is amazing to see how many people call us for the Minipack Cyclone simply based on referrals from friends and colleagues who own and enjoy using them. Do you have questions about these machines? Please feel free to call us at 1-800-658-8788 for more information. If you already own a Minipack Cyclone, you can find the external bag supplies here.

All You Need To Know About External & Chamber Vacuum Sealer Bags

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Vacuum Sealers & BagsIf you have a vacuum sealer, you are probably well aware of the fact that you need vacuum sealer bags (found here) to complete the process. These bags provide a barrier and make it possible to provide an oxygen-free environment for food and other packaged goods. One thing you may not know is that you need to use different bags for different machines. The two most common vacuum sealers used today use external and chamber designs. So which bags do you need for which machines?

Before I go into too many details regarding vacuum sealer bags, I would like to answer a few quick questions. One question I frequently get is, “Can I use chamber vacuum sealer bags with my external vacuum sealer?” The quick answer is no. Chamber vacuum sealer bags and external bags cannot be interchangeably used. External sealers cannot seal using the non-embossed bags and external bags are not designed to handle the low atmosphere process used in a chamber sealer.

Vacuum sealer bags come in different mil thicknesses (1 mil = 0.01″) and are designed to handle different temperature ratings. Not all vacuum sealer bags have a boilable barrier and not all can be used for Sous Vide cooking. Only chamber bags, designed for temperatures up to 212 Fahrenheit (100 Celsius) can be used for Sous Vide. You can read more about Sous Vide cooking here.

I would like to first cover the two most common types of vacuum sealer bags used today. One is an external vacuum sealer bag and the other is a chamber sealer bag.

3 Mil Cook-In Chamber Vacuum Bags (found here) – These bags are the most common used with chamber sealers. They are BPA free (safe for food) and are suitable for use up to 149 degrees Fahrenheit (65 Celsius). The have an oxygen transmission rating (OTR) of 4.1 and are made using a 3-mil thick (75 microns) nylon and polyethylene coextrusion layer. They are available (upon request) with a tear notch, hang hole or zipper. These bags are extremely affordable and come in a wide variety of sizes.

Here are some detailed specifications:

3 Mil Chamber Vacuum Sealer Bags

3.5 Mil Embossed External Vacuum Bags (found here) – These bags are made using a 3.5 mil thick layer of polyamide and polyethylene. The layer features an embossed pattern, designed to help assist with the external vacuum sealing process. While these are designed to work with Minpack Cyclone machines, they work great with most external and non-chamber vacuum sealers.

Here are some detailed specifications:

3.5 Mil External Embossed Vacuum Sealer Bags

While those are our two most popular vacuum sealer bags, we also offer two other chamber sealer bags that you may wan to consider using. Here are some details on those other two bags:

3 Mil Sous Vide Chamber Vacuum Bags with Boilable Barrier (found here) – These bags are BPA free and are microwaveable and boilable and are made with a 3-mil thick (0.8 mil nylon / 2.4 mil linear low density polyethylene) layer. They can be used for Sous Vide and have a maximum temperature rating of 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 Celsius). These bags have an oxygen transmission rating (OTR) of 3.3 and are available upon request with a tear notch, hang hole or zipper.

Here are some detailed specifications:

3 Mil Sous Vide Chamber Vacuum Sealer Bags w/ Boilable Barrier

4 Mil Sous Vide Chamber Vacuum Bags (found here) – These bags use a 4-mil thick layer of Nylon and Poly Coex and feature a boilable barrier that can be used for Sous Vide cooking. Not only are these bags great for boiling, but they can also be used in extreme cold as well (-2 degrees up to 212 degrees Fahrenheit. These bags are BPA free and food safe. Options include a tear notch, hang hole, zipper or gusseted.

Here are some detailed specifications:

4 Mil Sous Vide Boilable Vacuum Sealer Bags

With all these vacuum sealer bag options, we are sure to have something you can use. We try to keep our prices as competitive as possible and offer bulk-pricing discounts. These are some of the highest-quality chamber and external vacuum bags available. Please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-800-658-8788 with questions.

Can A Paper Folding Machine Be Used With Pressure Seal Checks?

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Pressure Sealing MachinesIf you’re a business that uses pressure seal checks or other pressure seal forms, you may be wondering if you can use the folding machine in the mailroom to fold and seal those checks. This is a common question and one that I completely understand where it’s coming from. Who wouldn’t want their folding machine to have multiple purposes! The answer to the question, however, is no. I’ll explain in this article.

Pressure seal checks use special pressure activated pockets of glue. These pockets of glue typically lie along the perforated sides and edges of the pressure seal check. As pressure is applied to these pockets, they burst open and seal the mailable check shut. It is an efficient and tamper proof system that is used by businesses around the world. The amount of pressure required to burst these pockets of glue open is significant.

Paper folding machines use silicon or rubber rollers in the folding process. These soft rollers are designed to absorb vibration, reduce noise and help feed paper through the machine. Unfortunately these rollers don’t have near the amount of pressure required to fold a pressure seal check and activate the pockets of glue. Trust me, I have tried it and can confirm it does not work.

Pressure sealing machines, designed to fold and seal pressure seal checks, use solid metal rollers that apply huge amounts of pressure to the rollers, bursting the pockets open. These metal rollers are used in conjunction with rubber rollers. These machines are louder than your standard paper folding machine due to the metal roller configuration. Formax is probably the best-known manufacturer of pressure sealing machines (found here) and they offer a lineup of basic tabletop pressure sealers all the way up to industrial machines designed to output hundreds of thousands of forms a month.

Pressure Sealer Rollers vs Folding Machine Rollers

Setting up a pressure sealer is very similar to a standard folding machine. They both use folding plates to create letter folds, accordion folds and single folds. If you have used a paper-folding machine, setting up a pressure sealer should be like second nature to you.

We have been selling paper folding and pressure sealing machines for well over a decade, so please call us at 1-800-658-8788 with any questions. We can help you answer questions, look into leasing, e-mail you quotes and much more.

Best Machines For Vacuum Packing Fish

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Vacuum Packing FishI have been working with and dealing with vacuum food sealers (found here) for over a decade now. I have used machines ranging from basic tabletop external sealers all the way up to industrial-grade chamber vacuum sealers. One question I commonly get is, “Which machine is best for packing fish?” Having sold several machines over the years, and receiving feedback from customers, I have a few personal favorites I would like to share with you.

Packing fish using a vacuum sealer has many advantages. For one, it locks in the smell and preserves the fish several times longer than without using film. It also provides a professional appearance and makes sanitary transportation and retail sale easy. It allows customers to pick up and handle the fish without the fear of contamination. It also provides a barrier to prevent freezer damage for cold storage purposes. The list of reasons why you may want to vacuum pack your fish is long.

I have used several brands over the years and I have to say that Minipack is by far my favorite vacuum sealer brand for packaging fish, meat, fruit, veggies and other food products. They aren’t always the cheapest, but when you take into consideration that their machines will outlast most other models by years, it is well worth the investment. Minipack machines are Italian made.

Vacuum Packing Fish w/ MinipackWhile their chamber sealers are excellent for packaging food on a large scale, their external machines are really good for packaging fish. They can be used for packing an entire fish, or fish fillets. My favorite all-around machine for packing fish is their line of Minipack Cyclone vacuum sealers (found here). These sealers come in 13″, 17″ and 21″ wide models. The Cyclone sealers use vacuum bags for packaging. The 4mm wide seal is extremely durable and holds up well.

Using the Minipack Cyclone for packing fish is as simple as a few steps:

  1. First take your vacuum bag and position it flat on a table or countertop.
  2. Take your fish (on or off a tray) and place it in the bag.
  3. Place the open end of the bag into the Cyclone’s sealing arm.
  4. Activate the machine and wait for it to remove the air and seal the bag shut. This usually only takes a few seconds.
  5. Remove the bag and if needed repeat the process.

The Cyclone sealers have 3 adjustable program settings and are made from non-corrosive aluminum construction. The digital controls are easy to use and it even comes equipped with a moisture collection basin. If you have more questions about vacuum packing fish using a Minipack Cyclone, please feel free to call us at 1-800-658-8788.

Five Ways You Can Improve Work Efficiency With Office Equipment

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

There are a lot of things you can do to improve efficiency and make your business more professional. A lot of this can be done by using the right equipment. This may involve transferring operations that are manually done to an automated process, or it may simply involve implementing a technology that can dramatically improve your business’s image. Here are five tips and pieces of equipment that I personally recommend every business have on hand.

Here are five things I recommend you use in your office:

  1. Paper ShreddersPaper Shredders (found here) – One of the first things I recommend businesses do is to use a paper shredder. While many people think tearing a sheet of paper up by hand gets the job done, you would be surprised how easy it is to quickly tape it back together. For proper security and protection, you should really be using a cross cut paper shredder of a Level 3 grade or higher. Cross cut particles of paper are near impossible to re-assemble. This also puts your business in compliance with FACTA.
  2. Paper Folding MachinesPaper Folding Machines (found here) – How many times have you or your business sat down and folded invoices, letters and other sheets of paper by hand? Not only is this time consuming, but it also results in poorly folded sheets. Letter folding machines are available for as little as a few hundred dollars, but can get the job done 10 or more times faster. This saves time and money while improving the professional appearance of your business.
  3. Paper CuttersPaper Cutters (found here)– If you are cutting a lot of paper, throw away those scissors and upgrade to a paper cutter. Paper cutters are faster and create straight and true cuts every time. Most businesses use a rotary paper trimmer or a guillotine paper cutter. These are nice to have on hand for a variety of projects that may come up. Most paper cutters and trimmers are also great at accurately cutting multiple sheets of paper at a time.
  4. Binding MachinesBinding Machines (found here) – If you are tired of dealing with an awkward 3-ring binder, you may want to consider using a binding machine. Binding machines produce books that are far easier to store and manage than a three-ring binder. They are also far more customizable and much more professional in appearance and functionality. The three most common binding formats businesses use are comb, wire and coil.
  5. LaminatorsLaminators (found here) – Have you ever found yourself breaking out the scotch tape to protect, preserve or add stability to a document? I know I’ve done that before. Rather than using up rolls of scotch tape, use a laminator. The film is cheap and the results are crisp and professional. Laminators can be used to protect important documents, for creating signs and much more. They are nice to have in the office even if they aren’t needed on a daily basis.

All five of these pieces of equipment will make your office environment more efficient and professional. We offer a wide range of equipment, so please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-800-658-8788 with your questions.

What Are Continuous Duty Shredders and Do You Need One?

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Continuous Duty Paper ShreddersHave you ever used a paper shredder only to have it stop working after 20-30 minutes due to an overheated motor? This can be a major annoyance, especially if you are a business that needs to shred all day long. An overheated paper shredder can quickly result in stacks of unshredded paper and can ultimately develop bad habits among employees by leaving sensitive information out in the open that should be otherwise destroyed. What you need to be using is what’s known as a continuous duty shredder.

Before I start going off on why you need a continuous duty shredder, I would like to state that non continuous-duty paper shredders, which require a cool down period, aren’t all bad. If you are a home, a home office or a small business, or if you simply need a compact deskside shredder, a standard “non continuous” shredder is just fine. These shredders are designed to shut off after a certain amount of use to prevent permanent damage from heat.

So what is a continuous duty paper shredder? A continuous-duty shredder is a shredder that’s designed to work for hours on end without overheating. This style of shredder is designed for office use, however, there are home paper shredders designed with continuous duty shredders as well. This type of shredder is perfect for use by multiple people in a departmental or centralized location.

Continuous Duty Paper ShreddersSo how does a continuous-duty shredder motor work? The key to keeping a paper shredder running continuously is to disperse damaging heat. As is the case with any electric motor, they begin to warm up and even become extremely hot after some time. A continuous-duty shredder uses a thermally protected motor. These motors are designed from the ground up to not overheat. Designs to prevent heat vary from heatsinks and motor positioning to overall design and current draw.  Many continuous-duty electric motors utilize several methods to disperse heat and keep cool.

Most German-made and Korean-made paper shredders feature thermally protected motors. Most Chinese-made paper shredders have a cool-down period. Brands such as Dahle, Destroyit, Intimus, HSM and Formax all manufacture the majority of their shredders with continuous-duty motors. I have personally used shredders from each of these manufacturers and have to say that they are all solid.

If you are a business or organization, and are in the process of shopping around for a paper shredder, I would recommend going with a continuous-duty paper shredder right off the bat. You won’t be disappointed and you’ll be future-proof, even if you don’t expect to need continuous shredding at this time.

Four Level 4 Micro Cut Paper Shredders You Have To See

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

If your office or business is in need of a paper shredder that produces double the shredding security of most traditional Level 3 cross cut shredders, you may want to consider using one of these affordable Level 4 micro cut shredders (found here). These four new paper shredders are made by New United and not only feature excellent security, but also have a great design that looks modern and classy. Here are a few reasons why these shredders are for you.

All paper shredders are rated by a security level. This level is used to determine the level of security that they offer. Security levels range from 1 to 6, with 6 being the highest level of security offered (high security). Level 3 is typically called cross cut and Level 4 (while a type of cross cut) is often called a micro cut paper shredder. Consider this, a Level 3 paper shredder has a 3.9 mm x 30-50mm cutting pattern and a Level 4 produces a 2mm x 15mm cutting pattern. Because there is more surface area to cut, Level 4 shredders typically won’t cut as many sheets at a time as their Level 3 cousins.

New United paper shredders are known for their exceptional quality and stylish good looks. These shredders are affordable, have a great cutting capacity and even feature a blue light that lights up the shred bin while paper is being shredded. I have used several of these shredders myself and I am impressed with how much better they are than your typical department store shredder.

We currently offer four Level 4 micro cut paper shredders from New United. These include the ST-6M, the ST-8M, the ET-12M and the ET-15M. These shredders come in traditional shredder designs and more modern side bid designs. Here are a few things you should know about each one.

Level 4 Micro Cut Paper Shredders from New United

  • New United ST-6M Micro Cut ShredderNew United ST-6M (found here) – This shredder is black and features a tower design with rounded corners. It can shred up to 6 sheets of paper at a time, which is great for a Level 4 shredder. This shredder features a slide-out side bin with a window that is extremely easy to empty. The window glows blue while shredding, making it easy to see how full the bin is. These shredder is perfect for use next to a desk.
  • New United ST-8M Micro Cut ShredderNew United ST-8M (found here) – This shredder features a traditional design with a modern twist. It combines a gray and black color scheme that looks great. The 5-gallon shred bin is easy to pull out and empty. It can shred up to 8 sheets of paper at a time and also features a blue LED light that shows through the bin’s window while shredding.
  • New United ET-12M Micro Cut ShredderNew United ET-12M (found here) – This is one of the most affordable micro cut paper shredders with a 12 sheet shredding capacity. This shredder has a tower design and is perfect for use in an office environment. It includes a separate slot for shredding CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays and credit cards. It sits on casters, is easy to use, includes safety features, is energy efficient and has a slot in the shred bin that glows blue while shredding. This shredder is a great option for any business.
  • New United ET-15M Micro Cut ShredderNew United ET-15M (found here) – If you need Level 4 micro cut security, but also require a decent shredding capacity, you are going to love the New United ET-15M. This shredder has a 15 sheet shredding capacity and cuts paper into tiny 2mm x 8mm particles. This is perfect for shredding medical records, patient data, customer information and more.

I have used these shredders and am happy to say that they are all solid machines. Consider New United when shopping around for paper shredders. They also offer a great selection of Level 3 cross cut shredders (found here). Please call us at 1-800-658-8788 with any questions. Have a great day and thanks for reading!

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