Archive for June, 2010

Akiles CoilMac-EPI Plus Coil Binding Machine Review

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Akiles CoilMac-EPI Plus Coil Binding MachineFinding a good reliable electric-powered coil binding machine can be a bit of  a chore. When electricity is involved, you want to make sure you are getting a good machine. A great example of an electric coil binding machine done right is the CoilMac-EPI Plus (found here). Why do I feel this way? I will go into more details in this review.

To start with, the CoilMac-EPI from Akiles is an all-in-one machine. It punches the coil and inserts the coil in a single machine. This is preferable, in my opinion, to having separate paper punches and coil inserters. The CoilMac-EPI does a very good job of combining these various tools into a single ergonomic machine.

One of the best things about Akiles is the build quality. Unlike MANY machines out there that have a plastic shell or aluminum gears, the Akiles machine is made from solid metal parts (including the housing). This becomes abundantly clear when you try to pick one up. The CoilMac-EPI Plus weighs in at just over 75 pounds, so it is pretty hefty, but it can be used on most desks and counters.

There are two different versions of the CoilMac-EPI available. There is the basic CoilMac-EPI and the CoilMac-EPI plus. There are a couple of differences between these two. The standard CoilMac-EPI punches round holes and has five disengageable pins where the CoilMac-EPI Plus punches oval-shaped holes and every pin is selectable Other than that, the two machines are pretty much the same.

The oval holes found on the EPI Plus make the pages easier to turn. This is a new hole design that is completely unique to Akiles. I also really like to have all the punching pins be disengageable. This is great for punching custom sizes of paper and allows you to eliminate the dreaded half-punched hole that ends up at the edge of paper.

From start to finish, the entire coil binding process only takes a few minutes. First you punch the paper, using the electric punch. The electric punch is activated by using an foot pedal, which is really nice. Once all the paper is punched, you feed a coil through the first few holes and let the CoilMac-EPI’s electric coil inserter do the rest.

The CoilMac-EPI Plus is a commercial-quality machine. I have no problem saying that you can use this for the smallest light-duty job or a larger heavy-duty job. It can be used throughout the day without any worries about the motor overheating or becoming damaged.

If you are looking for a solid coil binding machine solution, you should definitely consider using the Akiles CoilMac-EPI Plus or Standard coil binding machine. You can find the CoilMac-EPI standard here and the CoilMac-EPI Plus here.

If you like the features in the CoilMac-EPI, but don’t need an electric punch, it is available in a manual version as the CoilMac-ECI. There are two versions of that coil binding machine as well. You will find the CoilMac-ECI standard here and the CoilMac-ECI Plus here.

Good luck and happy coil binding!

Minipack Cyclone Vacuum Food Sealers Reviewed

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Minipack Cyclone External Vacuum SealersWow. Who would have thought that the Minipack Cyclone line of vacuum sealers would be such a hit in just a few short months? If you are considering purchasing an external vacuum food sealer, you may want to seriously consider looking into a Minipack Cyclone. Why? Here are a few reasons.

One of the biggest reasons the Minipack Cyclone is such a hit with individuals and businesses alike can be summed up in two words, “Build Quality.” The stark contrast in build quality in the Minipack Cyclone versus other “Saver” style vacuum sealers is as stark as the difference between plastic and metal.

Minipack products are Italian designed and Italian made. This is the same country that brought us the Ferrari. The Cyclone is the Italian Ferrari of the external vacuum sealer world. Here are a few features found in the Minipack Cyclone:

First off, the Cyclone features a corrosive-free aluminum alloy housing. Why is this nice? Many foods and vacuum sealed products can cause cheaper metals and plastics to corrode, discolor and break down. For sanitation purposes, you want something that is non corrosive.

The control panel is flat, user-friendly and features a digital knobless design. If you have ever used a food-handling device that has knobs, you know how easy it is for food to get trapped underneath. If you are packaging fish, beef and pork, you don’t want those juices festering under knobs and between cracks.

The sealer includes a moisture collecting basin. This helps with food preservation. The Minipack Cyclone creates a 4mm seal width, which is double the 2mm seal width found in many comparable models.

A wide seal width is great to have because it prevents accidents and does a better job of maintaining the vacuum seal. The Cyclone can be used with channel or three-layer bags. The Cyclone also features an automatic cycle and a manual sealing cycle.

We offer the Minipack Cyclone in three different versions, all based on the sealing width.

These three models are:

You will find our entire selection of vacuum food sealers here. Let us know what you think about the Minipack Cyclone external vacuum food sealer.

Bent, Stuck and Dull Binding Machine Punching Pins and Dies – What To Do

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

So your binding machine has suffered a catastrophic failure. This may be a the result of a bent pin, a stuck pin or a dull pin. All three of these scenarios result in an unusable binding machine. What can you do, if anything? Luckily, in most situations, your binding machine can live a second life with a few simple replacement parts. Here are a few solutions to your broken binding machine:

Stuck Pin / Die:

To start with, a stuck punching pin can usually be fixed without any parts being replaced. If your binding machine does have a stuck pin, don’t force it out by pushing up on the punching handle. This may bend the pin.

If the pin isn’t bent, it may freed by removing the housing and carefully freeing-up the pin. This type of maintenance isn’t for everyone and may require a chat with our Service Technician.

Bent or Dull Punching Pin / Die:

A bent punching pin, unfortunately, cannot be bent back into place. It usually requires the pin itself to be replaced. A dull punching pin cannot be filed and re-sharpened and must be replaced as well. Luckily, most binding machine manufacturers sell replacement pins.

GBC is one of the only binding machine manufacturers that I am aware of that doesn’t offer replacement punching dies for most their machines. Most GBC machines are made from a “throw-way” design. If it’s broken, you toss it. GBC does, however, offer replacement pins and parts for their VeloBind machines.

Most manufacturers such as Akiles, Tamerica, Renz and others make it easy to replace punching pins. Some replacement pins are available individually, while others are available in sets. Some punching pins must be purchased as complete unit.

Binding Machine Punching Pins and Dies

Most of the tools and skills required to replace punching pins can be done by anyone. Our Service Department is more than happy to get you the replacement parts and provide phone support for changing them out. You also have the option of sending your machine into our Service Department for repair.

If your binding machine cannot be repaired, or is in dire need of a replacement, your in luck. We have one of the widest selections of binding machines available online. You will find our entire selection of book binding machine here.

The Fellowes Quasar 500 Comb Binding Machine Reviewed

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Fellowes Quasar 500 Comb Binding MachineSo you need a comb binding machine and are considering the Fellowes Quasar 500 as a possible option. The only problem is you don’t know if this is the comb binding machine for you. You’re in luck. This is a detailed review of the Fellowes Quasar 500 (found here). I will discuss the pros and cons of this comb binding machine.

Fellowes has been making shredders for a long time and they have since dived into the laminator and binding machine market as well. One of their newest additions is the Quasar 500 manual and the Quasar 500 electric. Both of these machines are essentially the same in design with the only difference being the manner in which paper is punched.  I will be covering the manual version

The Fellowes Quasar 500 manual is a compact comb binding machine designed for low-volume binding jobs. It is called the Quasar 500 because it is able to comb bind up to 500 sheets of paper at a time. This equals about a two-inch thick book. This is pretty nice for a machine this compact.

Fellowes has hired some very talented office equipment designers. As is the case with their shredders, the Fellowes line of binding machines are very attractive in their design. This makes it easy to put a Fellowes binding machine on your desk without it detracting from the ambiance.

One of the biggest pros of the Fellowes Quasar 500 is the vertical load punching die. Most comb binding machines have the paper punched horizontally. Because the Quasar punches the paper vertically, the holes more easily line up and paper is punched evenly (thanks to gravity).

One thing I wish the Quasar had was selectable punching dies. In this price range, selectable punching dies are not very common, however, Akiles does make a machine in that price range with selectable dies.

I do consider the Fellowes Quasar 500 to be a good comb binding machine. As is the case with most Fellowes products, the build quality isn’t as good as it should be.  Fellowes does offer some of the best warranties available though, so if you do experience any issues, getting your Fellowes comb binder fixed shouldn’t be a problem.

Here are a couple of Quasar 500 alternatives:

You will find our entire selection of manual comb binding machines here. Do you own a Fellowes Quasar 500? Post your experience here in a comment.

How To Keep Your Binding Machine Punching Pins and Dies Sharp

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Coil Binding Machine Punching Pins / DiesAs with any piece of equipment, eventually it will need to be repaired or replaced. The same goes for binding machines. I have had several customers ask me if it is possible to sharpen a punching die after it becomes dull. Unfortunately there is no way to sharpen a binding machine punching die, but there is a way to help it last longer. Consider this preventative care.

I was talking with our Service Technician a few minutes ago and she informed me that there is a way to possibly keep binding punches sharper for a longer period of time. Now I can’t say for sure if this will work on all binding machines. She told me that many of our customers will punch a piece of wax paper once or twice a week.

Supposedly the wax will help keep the binding punches lubricated, cutting down on wear and tear. Our Service Technician told me that she has spoken with customers that swear by this and claim that this simple process has helped them keep their binding machines going five-plus years. This will supposedly also help cut down on stuck punching pins.

This is the first time I have heard of this, so I can’t say it will definitely work for you, but it seems to make sense. I hope this helps you out. You will find our entire selection of binding machine here. You can contact our Service Department by filling out this form.

Tamerica VersaBind Manual Binding Machine Review

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Tamerica VersaBind Binding MachineSo you really want to bind a book, but just can’t seem to settle on a binding format. You like comb, wire and coil, but don’t want to limit yourself. Well, you’re in luck! The Tamerica VersaBind manual binding machine gives you the option to bind books in a wide variety of formats. I have used this machine and will post some of the pros and cons here.

I have used comb, wire and spiral binding machines and can completely understand why someone would be reluctant to settle on one single binding format. I really like all three of these popular binding methods and they all have their own unique benefits. The Tamerica VersaBind does a great job answering this problem.

The Tamerica VersaBind binding machine is designed to punch holes and bind books in comb, 2:1 pitch wire, 3:1 pitch wire and 4:1 pitch coil. Although not advertised, because the Tamerica VersaBind can punch a 19-ring hole pattern for comb, it can also be used to bind books using 19-ring Spiral-O wire. This means the Tamerica can bind books in five different and unique styles.

VersaBind Binds:

  • 19-Ring Comb
  • 19-Ring Wire
  • 2:1 Pitch Wire
  • 3:1 Pitch Wire
  • 4:1 Pitch Coil

Tamerica VersaBind Interchangeable Dies

It includes a comb opener and closer for binding combs and a wire closer for wires. Coils must be manually fed through the punched holes. While the VersaBind isn’t designed for high-volume binding, it is perfect for low to medium-volume binding.

Unlike other multi-format binding machines, the Tamerica VersaBind includes all the punching dies needed to bind comb, wire and coil. Most other multi-format machines require you to buy the additional punching dies separately. This is a huge DEAL.

These aren’t cheap punching dies either. The coil, comb and wire punching dies all include selectable dies, allowing you to decide exactly which hole punches and which doesn’t. The punching pins seem to be very sturdy and shouldn’t dull easily.

The handles have been placed in an ergonomic way, making it easy to punch paper, open combs and close wire.

One thing I would really like to see on the Tamerica VersaBind is a coil inserter. Akiles has managed to include compact coil inserters and I would love to see one on this machine.

You will also want to scale back the punching capacity on this machine. Although it claims to be able to punch 20 sheets at a time, I would probably scale that back to about 15 sheets. The machine seemed to strain a little at 20 sheets. This is pretty common with binding machine manufacturers. They always give you the absolute maximum amount of sheets it can bind, even though that amount shouldn’t be done on a regular basis.

In conclusion, I really like using this binding machine. I think the versatility of multiple binding formats is huge and for everything you get, the VersaBind may be one of the best deals you’ll ever see in a multi-format binding machine. You will find the Tamerica VersaBind manual binding machine here. You can find our entire selection of binding machines here.

Quickbooks Compatible Employee Time Clocks

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Quickbooks Compatible Employee Time ClocksWow. There has been a lot of demand from our customers to get an employee time clock that is compatible with Intuit Quickbooks.

I suppose that should come as no surprise. Quickbooks from Intuit is one of the most popular accounting software programs used today. If you’re looking for a Quickbooks compatible time clock, you’ve come to the right place.

The way most of our Quickbooks compatible time clocks work is they export the data into a Quickbooks compatible format. This data can then be imported into Quickbooks and be used for payroll purposes. Many of our digital and computer-based time clocks are capable of doing this.

Here are five of our time clocks that are Quickbooks compatible:

These aren’t the only employee time clocks we offer capable of working with Quickbooks. You will find our entire selection of employee time clocks here. Please feel free to call us at 1-800-658-8788 to speak with one of our time clock specialists.

Z Folding Machines

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Z Folding Machines and Paper FoldersSo you’re looking for a Z folding machine? You’re in luck. We have a great selection of Z folding machines. For those of you confused by the term “Z Fold,” don’t worry. I’ll explain.

A Z folding machine is a paper folding machine that can create a Z fold. So what is a Z fold? A Z fold is a sheet of paper folded in the formation of a Z. This is sometimes referred to as an accordion fold.

Z Fold Machines and Paper FoldersThe Z fold, along with the C fold (letter fold), are the two most popular folds created and probably always will be. Most paper folders are capable of creating a Z fold. I can’t even think of a paper folder, off the top of my head, that can’t create a Z fold.

So what are Z folds most commonly used for? These folds are commonly used for folding letters, folding fliers, creating promotional literature and much more. You will find our entire selection of Z folding machines here.

Electric Spiral Binding Machines vs Manual Coil Binders

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Spiral Binding Machines - Coil Book BindersSo you’re looking for a spiral binding machine (aka coil binding machine) and aren’t sure whether to go with an electric punch or a manual punch. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages you’ll want to consider prior to making a purchase.

Volume – How many books would you like to bind per day? While a good manual binding machine can keep up with the best of them, the operator will eventually get tired. It’s normal. Electric punches require a lot less effort and are far more ideal for continuous, daily binding.

Some high-end electric punch machines, however, are capable of punching far more paper than a manual machine. These typically are not all-in-one spiral binding machines, but rather are binding punches designed specifically for punching paper.

Electric Coil Inserter – Some spiral binding machines include an electric coil inserter. This is usually some type of an electrically powered rubber roller. These are found on both manual and electric-punch machines.

I personally love having an electric coil inserter on my spiral binding machine. The time saved using an electric coil inserter, over manual coil insertion, is significantly more than the time saved going from a manual to an electric punch machine.

Budget – So is it in your budget to get an electric punch machine? Electric punch spiral binding machines are more of an investment than a manual spiral binding machine. Be aware, however, that buying a cheaper manual spiral binding machine may cost you more money in the long run in operating time and output volume.

Convenience – This one is pretty easy. An electric-powered binding machine will always be more convenient to use than a manually operated machine.

Space – Electric and manual spiral binding machines use about the same amount of surface space, so space shouldn’t be a major concern when selection a machine.

Whether you decide to go with a manual or an electric spiral binding machine, spiral binding looks great and is perfect for binding cookbooks, journals, reports, booklets and more. You will find our entire selection of manual spiral binding machines here and electric spiral binding machines here.

Benefits of a Back Support Belt or Brace

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Back Support Belts and BracesDid you know that back injuries account for nearly 20% of all injuries and illnesses in the workplace and cost the U.S. an estimated 20 to 50 billion dollars per year? Not only do back injuries cost employers money, they also result in painful back issues that often last a lifetime. So how can you combat the possibility of a back injury? Back support belts and proper education are a couple of ways to help.

Back support belts and braces are both a preventative and a treatment tool. One of the biggest benefits of back support belts is their ability to provide added posture support and back stability. Incorrect posture, while lifting, is a significant factor when it comes to back injuries.

Back support belts and braces are also ideal for use with someone who has previously experienced a back injury. The belt helps provide added support, especially when someone is dealing with a torn muscle or other back injury.

A back support belt will not work if you are using an incorrect belt size. If the belt is too big, it will not provide any support, and if it is too small, it will not provide correct support (not to mention small belts are very uncomfortable). It is also a good idea to try several different styles of belts. Some people will find more benefits with one design over another.

Back Support BracesBack support belts should be properly tightened when heavy lifting occurs, but do not need to be “cinched-up” at all times. Why is this? A belt that is cinched, when no lifting is being done, can result in employee complaints and discomfort. This may result in improper use of the belt or lack of a belt when it is really needed.

Back support belts also help with preventing abdominal injuries while lifting. Why is this? Most back support belts wrap around to the front, helping provide muscle support to the abdominal wall. This helps cut down on abdominal ruptures and tears. Be aware, however, that back support belts are more of a preventative measure than a treatment for abdominal injuries.

You may have heard this thousands of times, but simple lifting practices will help more than any belt. This includes proper posture and lifting with the knees, not the back. You will find our entire selection of back support belts here. Our back support belts and braces are designed to provide maximum back support while providing maximum comfort.

Have some thoughts on back support belts? Post them in a comment.

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