Archive for March, 2013

Akiles Pro-Lam Photo Pouch Laminator Review

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Akiles Pro-Lam Photo Pouch LaminatorLaminating photos is a delicate process and requires professional equipment if you want to ensure the job is done right every time. You don’t want to use just any off-the-shelf machine. Laminated photos look great, but when the process doesn’t work, a photo can be permanently destroyed. If you are a professional business, or need the utmost quality in your laminated photos, consider using the Akiles Pro-Lam Photo laminator (found here). This is my review.

There are several reasons why someone may want to laminate a photo. I have broken these down into two types of people:

  • Sentimental Preservation – Photographs can hold a lot of sentimental value, especially when it comes to memories. When dealing with older photos, rare photos and one-of-a-kind photos, you want to use the utmost care. One way many people like to protect and preserve a photo is by laminating it. You do not want ripples, bubbles or cloudiness in the film. The Akiles Pro-Lam Photo is an example of a laminator that can handle sentimental photos and laminate them correctly the first time.
  • Professional Presentation – If you are a photographer, or a business that needs quality laminated photos and signs, the Akiles Pro-Lam is also a great option. Many businesses use lamination for protection and to provide added support to signs, photos and other material. Lamination film has a way of enhancing and bringing out colors. The glossy finish also has a clean and fresh appearance.

There are a few reasons why the Akiles Pro-Lam Photo is so good at laminating photographs. It all starts with the design. To begin with, the Pro-Lam photo uses a 6-roller system. This consists of 4 heated rollers and two cold rollers. In most cases, the more rollers you have in a laminator the higher quality the results will be. Most department store laminators only have 2 rollers and most commercial business laminators have 4. More rollers ensure better heat distribution and better application of pressure.

Technology, along with a microprocessor, built into this laminator helps to regulate the temperature during the laminating process. This especially helps when laminating photographs. Because the temperature is so well regulated, bubbles and other artifacts in the final product are eliminated. This technology also ensures proper lamination regardless of the thickness of the film. The Pro-Lam Photo handles 3, 5, 7 and 10-mil film without a problem.

The Akiles Pro-Lam Photo isn’t just good for laminating photos. It can also be used for laminating standard paper, card stock, for mounting and even for use with some hot foiling. The wide 13″ laminating width handles a wide range of pouch sizes and material.

This laminator includes an auto memory function that will automatically remember the previous speed and temperature settings. This is ideal if you repeat the same job multiple times throughout the day or on a daily basis. When the laminator isn’t being used, it will go into standby mode, which is designed to save on energy as well as ensure a longer laminator lifespan.

A few additional features that make the Akiles Pro-Lam Photo a great option includes:

  • Jam Release Switch – This makes it easy to remove jams and misfeeds.
  • Cold Lamination Function – This allows the laminator to be used with cold lamination and pressure sensitive lamination film.
  • Silicon Rollers – These special rollers allow you to laminate products without or without the use of a carrier.
  • Overheating Protection – If for any reason the laminator gets too hot, it will automatically shut off to prevent a hazardous situation.
  • CE & TUV Certified

In conclusion, I can safely say that Akiles is one of the best manufacturers we work with. Their products, including their laminators and binding machines, are some of the best on the market. Their products are solid. If you do a lot of laminating, need a multi-roll laminator or need something for laminating photos, this is a great option. If you have additional questions about this laminator, please give us a call at 1-800-658-8788. You can find our entire selection of pouch laminators here.

If you have this laminator or have used it, please post your experience at the end of this article as a comment. Thanks for reading!

Impulse Bag & Direct Heat Sealer FAQ

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

Bag Sealer FAQAt ABC Office, we sell a lot of impulse bag sealers and direct heat bag sealers. These tools are used by people around the world to package food, parts and other products for retail sale. Having spoken to hundreds of customers over the past decade, I would like to provide a list of answers to frequently asked questions regarding our bag sealers (found here).

What is the burst strength of the seal? – Many people want to know just how tough the seal is made by a bag sealer. While there is no set burst strength, the wider the seal the stronger it will be. I have found in my own experience that the bag will often burst before the seal. The reason I can’t provide a set burst strength on the seal is because it can vary wildly depending on the bag’s material makeup and the product being packaged.

Should I use a hand sealer or a foot sealer? The type of sealer you use depends on the size of the bag and volume you are packaging. Hand sealers make sealing smaller bags, anywhere from a few inches to 12″, very easy. If you are packaging 12″ or larger, the foot sealers are nice because they allow you to use both hands to support and insert the bag for sealing. Foot sealers are also ideal for higher volume packaging needs (hundreds to thousands a day).

What types of materials can I package with my bag sealer? A lot of it depends on the sealer. As a general rule, impulse sealers work well with polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) bags, where constant heat sealers work well with gusset bags, poly cello films, coated Kraft papers, cellophane, waxed paper, mylar, coated polypropylene (PP) and other thick materials

Direct Heat SealersAre bag sealers safe to use? – Impulse bag sealers heat up and cool down in just seconds, making them safe to handle and use. Direct heat (aka constant heat) sealers get very hot and stay hot. Using a direct heat sealer does require the operator to be mindful of the hot sealing jaws.

How hard is a bag sealer to use? Bag sealers are extremely easy to set up and operate. Most allow you to set the sealing time and some the sealing temperature. These sealers, in most cases, are as easy to use as a pair of scissors. Very little training is required.

Which bag sealer should I buy? There are two factors to consider. First, what types of bags are you sealing? An answer to that question will determine if you need an impulse sealer or a direct heat sealer. Second, what is your packaging volume? If your volume is low, a hand sealer should be fine. If your volume is high, you may need a more robust machine like a foot sealer.

What are the power requirements? Most bag sealers that we sell run on a 110-120 volt system. This means if you are in the US or Canada, they should be able to be plugged into any standard outlet.

These are some of the most common questions we receive, but we receive several other less common questions every day. If you need more advice or answers to other questions, please feel free to give us a call at 1-800-658-8788. We have years of experience with these machines and would sincerely like to help you out. You can find our entire selection of bag sealers here. Feel free to post your questions as a comment.

Martin Yale 62001 Letter & Envelope Opener Review

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Martin Yale 62001 Letter & Envelope OpenerIf your business receives letters and envelopes in excess of a hundred pieces a day, you may need a letter opening machine. One model I would like to feature in this article is the Martin Yale 62001 (found here). This letter opener has been around for years and can be found in mailrooms of businesses around the world. So is this letter opener good for your business? Read on!

Martin Yale is a leading manufacturer of specialized office equipment. They have been around for decades and as of this article they make about a half dozen different letter openers. The Martin Yale 62001 is their highest-speed letter opening machine, although I would categorize it as a medium to medium-high volume machine. There are other manufactures out there such as Staplex, Formax and DocuGem that make machines on the high /commercial end of things. Don’t let this discourage you though. The 62001 still has some impressive features and is still a deal for the money.

I would like to start with the 62001 letter opener’s build quality. The 62001 actually features a metal build, which is uncommon with so many other manufacturers out there going with plastic. I have personally handled and used this machine and can say that it has a very solid feel to it. It is hefty (at 41 pounds) and seems to be very tough, which is ideal for a mailroom environment. It also includes a mail catch tray that helps keep the chaos of letter opening a little more organized.

The Martin Yale 62001 features one of the fastest motors you can find in a letter opening machine. It operates at a speed of 17,500 envelopes per hour, which is a speed of about 4.8 pieces a second. That means the operator will probably have a hard time even keeping up with the motor’s speed. This is a good thing. While it can open a lot of envelopes in an hour, I wouldn’t categorize this as something that should be run at full speed non-stop during the entire day, but it should be able to keep up with most small to medium-size business’ mail load. If you do need something that is running nonstop for the entire day, you may need an industrial-level machine like the DocuGem LO4073 (found here).

The 62001 has a feed tray that can handle a 6″ stack of mail. Just place the stack of mail on the feed tray and the 62001’s feeding belt will automatically pull the pieces in one at a time. As the pieces are opened, they end up in the receiving tray. The 62001 can handle mail pieces as thick as ¼”. It is a versatile machine, capable of being adjusted to accommodate a wide range of mail and envelope sizes.

As the envelopes are run through this machine, a slitter inside the machine slits the envelope open, making it possible to easily access the contents. The 62001 is able to do this without damaging the contents inside. We have sold a lot of these and I have never heard a customer complain about the mail contents being damaged in the process.

In conclusion, I would have to say that the Martin Yale 62001 offers an excellent compromise of price and speed. It is remarkably easy to use and because it has been around so long and is in such wide circulation, parts and service are easy to come by. I recommend this for most businesses. If you have any questions, please feel free to give us a call at 1-800-658-8788. You can find our entire selection of automatic letter openers here.

What to Look for in a Paper Padding Press

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

Paper Padding PressPaper padding presses (found here) are simple yet highly effective tools when it comes to creating your own scratch pads and notepads. They can pad a wide range of paper styles and types. While these machines are ultimately simple in design, there are a lot of differences from one model to another. Having spoken to several customers over the years regarding these presses, I have come up with a list of features you may want to consider having when purchasing a machine.

To begin with, padding presses are essentially clamping mechanisms that help keep paper in place while applying glue. Sounds pretty simple doesn’t it? Many people, after receiving their presses, are often surprised to see that some of the models out there are nothing more than a few slabs of wood, a few hardware clamps and some piping that has been fitted together to create a support or frame.

Some people even make their own padding presses. One thing I can tell you about our manufacturers is that they have years of experience making these tools and they work very well. I still recommend using a manufactured padding press when making your own notepads. With that said, here are a few features you need to be aware of when shopping around.

  • Capacity – All padding presses are rated by the capacity of paper they can handle. This is usually measured in inches. An example would be the Blane Graphics Mini 2 (found here). It has a 12 ½” padding capacity. That means you can put up to 12 ½” of paper in it at a time. Those large pads can later be cut down into smaller pads. Some of our larger padding presses can pad dual stacks of paper (side-by-side) for even more capacity.
  • Size – Be sure the padding press you buy can handle the sheet size you’re padding. A larger padding press can still be used to pad smaller sizes of paper. The reason I bring this up is that some padding presses are only 4 ½” wide and can’t pad letter-size paper. Just be sure the padding press you buy fits your paper.
  • Padding Press with Swivel BaseSwivel Base – This is a feature I personally like. A swivel base allows the padding press to be easily rotated 180 degrees to allow you to easily apply glue to the back of the paper. Padding presses without a swivel base require you to either go to the other side of the table to apply the glue or manually turn the entire padding press around, which can be laborious. The Blane Graphics Superpad padding press (found here) is a good example of a press with a swivel base.
  • Tilt Base – In order to get the paper two square up properly, it needs to be jogged. This is necessary for the glue to be applied evenly and for the pad to look professional. While you can use a paper jogger prior to placing the paper in the press, some manufacturers have gotten creative using a tilt base. A tile base uses gravity to naturally square up the paper. Most padding presses are set at an angle for this purpose, but it is a feature you may want to look for. The General Graphic PP-2 padding press (found here) is an example of a press with a nice tilted base.
  • Material – This isn’t quite as important in purchasing a machine, but you should be aware that most padding presses are made mostly out of wood. Some, especially those made by Martin Yale, are made from metal. While metal is nice, the wood padding presses hold up remarkably well.
  • Glue Padding glue (found here) is available in both white and red colors and in pint or gallon containers. The glue usually takes anywhere from 10-20 minutes to try depending on how thick you put it on. Some people like to leave the padding press for 30 minutes to an hour in order to ensure everything has dried properly.
  • Tools – There are a few padding tools (found here) you may want to buy for your padding press. This includes the glue, a padding brush, a pad counter (aka paper stabber) and a pad knife. The padding brush is used to apply the glue, the pad counter makes it easy to separate large padded stacks into equal smaller pads and the padding knife is designed to make it easy to cut the glue on larger pads into smaller pads. I recommend you at least have glue and a brush for your padding press.

This is how a padding press works:

  1. Put the paper in the padding press.
  2. Tighten down the paper clamps to keep the paper held tightly in place.
  3. Remove the back jogging plate from the padding press.
  4. Apply the glue to the back of the notepad.
  5. Wait for the glue to dry.
  6. Loosen the clamps
  7. Remove the paper.

It really is that easy. The longest part of padding your own notepad is the glue drying time.

Here is a video demo of a padding press in use:

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If you want to create your own scratch pads and notepads, you should seriously consider using a paper padding press. The machines themselves are pretty cheap, but they can literally be used for years. I have heard of people with a padding press over a decade old that are still using them as if they were new. I have found that schools, doctor’s offices and other businesses like to use padding presses. You can find our entire selection of padding presses here.

We have been selling padding presses since 1980, so we have a lot of experience on using them and choosing a good model. Please feel free to give us a call at 1-800-658-8788 for answers to your padding questions. If you own one, or have some additional advice, please feel free to post that information right here as a comment. Thank you for reading and have a great day!

Fargo DTC1000 Photo ID Card Printer Review

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

Fargo DTC1000 ID Card PrinterIf your business or organization uses ID badges, PVC time cards or other photo identification, you should really consider printing your own cards in house. It is remarkably fast, about as easy as using a standard desktop printer and is much less expensive than outsourcing. One solid printer you may want to consider using is the Fargo DTC1000 (found here). This high-tech ID card printer is available in several different versions depending on what you want to print.

Fargo has been making high-end photo ID printers for well over a decade. I have personally used them to create ID badges and have always felt that the quality is right where it should be. One thing that I have been very impressed with is that as their technology improves, the prices seem to always get lower. I suppose that’s just the way it is with technology.

The latest addition of the DTC1000 brings quality and affordability to the user. This printer incorporates a lot of features and technology that you used to have to pay extra for. Here are a few of the new features that I particularly like:

  • Cleaning Roller – ID card printers use thermal print heads that begin to gum up and get dirty with repeated use. The results of a dirty print head can range anywhere from blurry images to incorrect colors or a complete failure of the print job. It used to be that you had to purchase a separate cleaning kit for proper maintenance on the printer. The DTC1000 now incorporates a cleaning roller in the printer ribbon itself. This means the DTC1000 now cleans the thermal print head using the same ribbon that is used to print cards. This is very cool.
  • ID Card Software – In order to create an ID card, you need software to lay out the design, template, text, picture and other information prior to printing. The Fargo DTC1000 includes Swift ID software. While it isn’t as robust as a photo ID software suite, it will allow you to quickly create a card and print it out. This is a huge plus in my book. I recommend you try out the included software and see what you think prior to purchasing 3rd party ID card software.

The Fargo DTC1000 is currently available in three different flavors. Each of the three designs also come with additional available modifications. The three versions are:

  1. DTC1000M Monochrome Printer (found here) – If you don’t need a lot of different colors and simply need clear, crisp data on a card, the DTC1000M is a good option. This printer can print in black and white or it can use several different colors of monochrome ribbons. It can still print edge-to-edge, can still be used with CR-80 and CR-79 card ranging in thickness from 9 to 40 mils thick. It can still print photos, text and even bar codes. It is also much faster than a color printer.
  2. DTC1000 Single Sided Printer (found here) – This is an excellent printer for full color single-sided printing. It can even print on the other side of the card with a second pass. You can buy this printer with a built-in print server, magnetic strip encoder or smart card encoder. It prints cards in a resolution of 300 dpi and takes about 24 seconds to print a card, which is a speed of about 150 cards a minute. This printer is extremely compact and sits nicely on just about any desk or table. It connects via a USB cable directly to a printer for easy setup. The print server version can be tied in directly with a network.
  3. DTC1000DS Double Sided Printer (found here) – This printer is very similar to the single sided version, but can print both sides of the card in a single pass. It is also available with a magnetic stripe encoder or an internal print server. It can print full color on both sides of the card, or it can be used with a YMCKOK ribbon that prints full color on one side and a single color on the back, saving cost on ribbons. This printer is highly versatile and extremely affordable for a double-sided printer.

All three of these printers are solid products and are extremely easy to use. I recommend businesses use these for creating ID badges, universities for student ID cards and for much more. They can even be used for creating novelty cards or by businesses for creating membership cards. You can find our entire selection of photo ID card printers here. If you still have questions about ID card printers, please feel free to call us at 1-800-658-8788. We have years of experience with these machines and can help answer your questions.

Have you used the Fargo DTC1000? Post your feedback and experience with it here as a comment! Thanks for reading.

Sealer Sales KF-300CS & KF-200CS Heat Sealer Review

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Sealer Sales KF-200CS & KF-300CS Direct Heat SealersWhen it comes to sealing thicker bags shut, such as cellophane, coffee bags, coated aluminum and Kraft paper, you are probably going to need something a little tougher than your standard impulse bag sealer. That is where direct heat sealers come into play. Two of our most popular direct heat sealers are the KF-200CS (found here) and the KF-300CS (found here) from Sealer Sales. These machines are similar in every way except the sealing width. So is the KF series direct heat sealers a good match for you? Read on!

Impulse sealers are extremely popular tools for sealing bags shut, often made from materials such as polypropylene and polyethylene. Impulse sealers are designed to be quick, safe to operate and efficient. The only downside with impulse sealers is that the often can’t handle the thicker stuff, unless you go with a double impulse sealer (often more expensive). For this reason, direct heat sealers (often called constant heat sealers) fit the bill.

Direct heat sealers are continually on and produce a lot of heat. The result is the ability to quickly seal thicker bags shut such as those made from cellophane, Kraft paper and coated aluminum. The KF-300CS is 12″ wide and the KF-200CS is 8″ wide. This is enough width to seal most retail food bags and other thicker bags. Both models feature an adjustable temperature control. The seal produced by both of these sealers features a nice serrated pattern (horizontal lines) that is 15mm thick.

These sealers do produce a lot of heat. As a result, both of these sealers have had their jaws coated in PTFE, which is a non-stick surface much like what you find in a pan. This helps the sealer to seal the plastic shut without sticking to it. The design works remarkably well and is very fast, taking just seconds to seal a bag shut.

Because both of these sealers feature a portable handheld design, they are extremely easy to use, maneuver and operate. They are also great for use with odd sized packages and material. An included stand helps to keep the sealer in place when not in use or in place while packaging. Rubber handgrips help to protect the operator from the heat.

Here is a video demo of the KF series of direct heat sealers in action:

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One thing to keep in mind while using either the KF-300CS or the KF-200CS is that they get very hot. They take about 5-15 minutes to fully warm up and take several minutes to cool back down. Do not touch the jaws at any time as you could seriously burn yourself. As long as you take the proper precautions, you will be very happy with these direct heat sealers.

As is the case with most Sealer Sales products, both the KF-300C and KF-200CS are solid products. They are made using high quality metal products including the jaws and the handles.  If you need something a little bigger than 12″, you may want to consider using the 16″ FKR-400 bag sealer found here. You can find our entire selection of bag and hand sealers here. Please feel free to call us at 1-800-658-8788 with any questions.

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