Mechanical binding is usually broken into three major categories; spiral binding, wire binding, and plastic comb. These types of mechanical binding are different from perfect binding or saddlestitching. Mechanical binding is a very popular method of binding books and offers a lot of unique advantages to the reader. Despite market trends and the rise of the e-reader, print manufacturers are still making lots of profit making books. Mechanical binding serves books that have a special purpose where the reader will benefit from the special lay-flat ability that this type of binding offers. Cookbooks, guides, and instruction manuals are perfect examples.
Spiral Binding, Wire Binding, and Plastic Comb
There are many manufacturers of mechanical binding equipment. Regardless of what type of binding there is always a need for a punching process. The punching process creates the holes in the right shape and pitch for the insertion process. The insertion process is different for spiral bound books and wire-o or comb. For spiral bound books the coil is spun into the book starting from one side. An operator usually starts it by hand and then presses it against a spinnig rubber roller to drive it across the book. For wire-o or comb the process involves holding open the wire or comb and then the book block is simply layed in before releasing the hold-open.
Many mechanical binding setups are combination machines that serve as a complete station. An operator can do then punching and coil insertion process all in one place. Other times these machines are seperate which can be nice for when tackling a job with multiple operators. It helps to have one person focus on punching and another person focus on coil insertion.