Category Archives: Tips & Advice

The Basic Theory of Buckle Folding

BaumFolder 714XLT UltraFold

If a sheet of paper is laid on a flat surface and driven into a stationary object, a buckle or a series of buckles will form along the surface of the sheet.

Theory of Buckle FoldingIf the paper is pushed into a narrow channel before butting up against the stationary object, the buckle that forms in the channel will be a much smaller size than free-forming buckles. At the end of the channel, however, larger buckles will again start to form.

If the channel is angled to produce a down-ward pressure, and two folding rollers, spinning as indicated above, are placed close to the end of the channel, the larger buckles that start forming there will always form down-ward and be pulled into the rollers, compressing into a fold.

Roll Bank ConfigurationOn a buckle folder (like 714), the sheet comes out of the feeder flat and enters the fold plate assembly where it comes to a stop against a stationary fold stop. A series of buckles then forms through the sheet. The buckles within the fold plate are kept very small by the narrow channel design. The buckle at the end of the plate, however, will be larger. The fold plate and rollers are configured such that the large buckle will always form downward where it is grabbed by the fold rollers and compressed into a fold. The picture shows the second plate deflected. This would mean a single fold.

Mid-State Litho, Inc.
5459 Fenton Rd.
Flint, MI 48507

Envelope Printing Tips and Advice

Article Provided by OKI Data
Envelope Printing Tips

The media selected for a specific print job plays an important role in delivering high quality results. In addition to the general quality of the media (texture, weight, composition), the physical design and construction of an envelope must be taken into consideration in striving to achieve optimum print quality.

This document highlights common envelope styles and the challenges imposed. In some cases, the envelope’s composition and construction may limit the type of graphic artwork and/or the positioning of the content for that envelope style. Some envelopes should be avoided altogether.

Envelope Styles and Considerations

Examples are given for standard business envelope (Com-10) but the details covered to apply to other sizes.

Side Seams

Generally, the preferred envelope design for laser-type printing. Provides a large surface area uninterrupted with folds and seams.

Diagonal Seams

Available in a wide variety of designs and fold patterns. Economical.


Window envelopes must be “laser” compatible. The clear window must be added to withstand the high temperature of the printer’s fuser. Misuse will damage the fuser.

Peal and Stick Sealing

Often includes premium quality media and good results.

This article was provided by OKI Data. For additional information and full article, please visit OKI Data online at

Mid-State Litho, Inc.
5459 Fenton Rd.
Flint, MI 48507

Autonomy over Automation

Autonomy over Automation – By Steven Barrett

Manufacturing is one of the fastest changing parts of our society. Developments in products, materials, processes and procedures all have the ability to upset the status quo and usher in a new way of thinking about the same old stuff. Things don’t stop once we improve a process, instead they improve again. Today we’ll look at how automatic machines are now becoming autonomous.

Efficiency is key. Whether it’s less waste, cheaper materials, or faster output there is always room for more efficiency and as a natural order our processes relentlessly move towards it. We’ve seen milestones countless times but this latest one is a doozy. Major computational improvements combined with distinct process knowledge are turning automated equipment into autonomous equipment.

But what’s the difference? Equipment in manufacturing has been becoming automated for decades. The definition of these words are distinct yet close enough to leave some confusion. In terms of manufacturing I define automatic as a motor assisted function that does what a human typically would do manual. What makes autonomy special is that there’s a higher level of control over automatic functions; controlling them independently with a decision making process. In simpler terms, our equipment is getting smarter and beginning to make production decisions on its own.

There are also intelligent management systems that can oversee entire production scenarios. Tools like PXnet from Horizon give production managers a very detailed bird’s-eye-view of an entire facility or even multiple locations. Just having a view of the big picture can allow humans to observe processes under a new light, giving way to a whole new era of breakthroughs.

Specific equipment solutions are incorporating autonomy in new ways as well. Machines like the MBM Aerocut G2 or the Horizon CRF-362 are perfect examples. Both require a very minimal setup and of course the operator is still required to load and unload stock from the machine. However, once the machine begins its production, there are all kinds of things happening in the background that lead to seamless operation with minimal operator interaction. The Aerocut carries out no less than 4 separate operations on each sheet before delivering a finished product. The CRF-362 determines its own speed and gap settings, things that confuse new operators and cause management to worry about quality.

This form of development is exponential, it’s constantly building on itself and each step just leads us to higher goals. It’s a pleasure of mine to watch these things happen in the industry I love working in. It can be a struggle for those who are late to adopt modern equipment, they are left competing on an uneven battlefield. It’s also difficult to know when the time is right and have the gusto to pull the trigger in uncharted territory. It leaves me humble about my customers and their struggles as I try to explain the benefits of buying into automation while they grapple with costs and risks.

Mid-State Litho, Inc.
5459 Fenton Rd.
Flint, MI 48507

Printing Gradients

Perfecting Your Gradients


In this day and age customers expect perfection. Whether it’s the color accuracy of a photo or the perfectly straight fold of a brochure, printers are always trying to squeeze the most out of their tools. In this article I want to cover a particularly difficult area of printing; gradients.

A gradient, in regards to printing, is a smooth blend from one color to another. Gradients can come in all shapes and sizes, they can also include more than two colors. Their use has steadily increased in our industry as designers have started taking advantage of the growing number of color printers in the field. Gradients bring a set of challenges to the printer, especially in digital printing.

There are several guidelines you can follow to get the most out of your gradients. The most effective method for improving your final results starts at the design stage by adhering to some basic guidelines. Things like making sure it’s a vector element and dictating values that won’t clash with the natural dot gain from the print engine. There are also some steps you can take at the last minute to improve your results right at the print engine.

Firstly, vector gradients are far superior to raster artwork. In a nutshell, raster artwork is comprised of pixels with a defined resolution. Each individual pixel has its own color designation. A raster gradient could be described as a picture of a gradient. Vector gradients are mathematically defined. A vector gradient is essentially a line with points along its axis with color anchors. This more simple method of creating a gradient is far simpler and more forgiving once it hits the print engine. Vector gradients allow the RIP system in the print engine to do its own calculations of all the colors in between the defined anchor points. In essence it gives the printer a degree of flexibility to smoothly draw the fade based on its own math. A raster gradient comes predefined and the printer simply outputs what it receives, which isn’t always a good fit for the printer (Figure 1).

Second, we’ll talk about color limits and dot gain. This can be a deep topic but there are some simple rules to keep things simple. This part focuses on the color choices and what specific colors are used within the gradient. Simply speaking, you want to avoid having your gradient reach the limits of the color channel. That is to say, your lowest and highest color values should be within the center 80% of the full range of color (Figure 2).

When venturing outside of this safe range you are likely to experience a phenomena when printing where your gradient will have a hard step. This occurs when the color values defined in the artwork cross over the dot gain that happens during printing. Printers have a word for this, it’s called plugging. Basically what’s happening is the artwork is calling for such a high fidelity dot that it falls outside of what’s possible for the printer to reproduce (Figure 3).

Those tips are great if you have the luxury of going back to the source document. Often times, trouble doesn’t arise until crunch time when a job is due. In that situation, options are limited to changes on the output side. There are a couple things you can do to help improve your results.

Calibration is critical for smooth gradients. Calibration, or more specifically linearization, is your first line of defense when having trouble printing a gradient. A proper linearization forces the print engine’s output to be true to dot. When a machine falls out of calibration you can start to see unwanted shifts in small ranges of color. On most printers, the calibration or linearization process is rather user friendly and it’s just good practice to keep the printer calibrated.

If you’re still struggling to print a smooth gradient and your printer is well calibrated you may need to explore running at a lower line screen. Printing at a lower LPI will increase the size of the dots comprising the printed image. This can help to ease the load on the print engine and help it to produce a smoother looking gradient. It can have some adverse effects on other elements in the job but this trade off can help in some situations. If your print engine or RIP system allows, you can also experiment with alternate dot shapes, such as stochastic or a line shaped dot.

Gradients can be difficult, in many ways, they are one of the toughest elements to print. With a bit of planning ahead you can circumvent many problems by just changing some properties of the gradient. In a pinch you can also experiment with the output settings of the engine and get out of trouble.

Mid-State Litho, Inc.
5459 Fenton Rd.
Flint, MI 48507

714 Ultrafold Set Up Tips

BaumFolder 714 UltraFold

The 714 Ultrafold is a very popular table top folder designed to be robust and easy to setup. Below are several tips that can help you set up this folder to run properly for your next job. These are just a few of the more common issues that people come across when setting up a machine.

Safety First!

    • Before working on the folder, DISCONNECT ALL ELECTRICAL POWER SUPPLY TO THE FOLDER to prevent the accidental start of the folder.
    • Check to make sure that you have the correct tools to complete the job.
    • For the reasons of safety, long hair must be tied back or otherwise secured, garments must be close fitting and no jewelry, such as rings or necklaces, may be worn while adjusting or setting up equipment.
    • Injury may result from being caught up in the machinery or jewelry catching on moving parts. Take all necessary steps so this doesn’t happen.

714 UltraFold Set Up714 UltraFold Set Up Tips:

  • Check to see if pump has sufficient suction. If not, enough, check the following.
    • Check and clean air filters
    • Check hose connections from pump for cracks and blockages. Repair as necessary.
  • Make sure guides are positioned properly. Paper should not be too tight or loose in feeder.
    • Too tight and it will not feed properly.
    • Too loose and the folds will be inconsistent.
  • Check that the caliper assembly is 90° relative to the feed table.
  • Check that the air tube holes (front blow) are pointing towards the scribe line. When the air is turned on, the bottom sheets should be blown down to the sucker wheel.
  • Check the gap underneath the sheet detector tab.
    • Insert two thickness of paper between the caliper tab and the sucker wheel.
    • Turn the gap knob counter-clockwise to tighten or clockwise to loosen.
    • Set the gap knob until there is a slight drag on the paper.
    • Remove the paper and the correct gap is now set.
    • When you load the feeder, the printing will be up.

Mid-State Litho, Inc.
5459 Fenton Rd.
Flint, MI 48507

New trends can enhance direct marketing offerings

Business that have used direct marketing for long enough know the power of a well-managed and properly crafted mailing campaign. A company can’t simply decide to send out mailers to customers without any sort of planning or behind-the-scenes work to craft an appealing message and image.

Putting the time and energy into this effort will definitely pay off. One of the most important parts of keeping direct mail efforts exciting is tactfully incorporating new trends into a campaign. Businesses do need some restraint to avoid simply following the bandwagon of the latest trend, but using a few new ideas can improve the effectiveness of mailers. With that in mind, here’s a look at some hot concepts in direct mail:

  • Reminding and bringing back lapsed customers: Forbes stated this area has been underserved by direct mail in some instances and is increasing in popularity. Attracting a client who hasn’t made a recent purchase may seem more difficult than encouraging a loyal, repeat buyer, but it’s likely easier than reaching out to a completely new person. This type of lapsed purchaser is already familiar with the brand’s product or service, so the business can focus more on highlighting new offerings and recent developments. Providing an incentive for these customers to once again buy from the company can be effective. Having good mail list management to keep track of this subset of buyers is especially important, as it’s likely that lapsed clients may have moved, gotten married and changed their names or experienced other life events that require an update to contact information.
  • Combination campaigns: The use of direct mail to draw attention to campaigns on the Internet and in other marketing channels has become more popular in 2014, according to MarketingProfs. With social media playing a strong role in consumers’ lives, having a piece of direct mail that leads readers to a Facebook page or Twitter account can be very successful. Similarly, posts on social networks about a mailer arriving soon in certain regions can generate excitement. A piece of mail that is exclusive or only offered in a limited area can help build interest as well. Another strategy is to include a discount or coupon that can be activated though a website or social media page. Incorporating QR codes into direct mail and allowing smartphone and tablet users to quickly access these sites can also provide good results.
  • Customized printing: Advances in the printing field have made it easier for companies to make direct mail offerings more personal and pique the interest of recipients by putting their name on the envelope. The once-common approach of writing “current resident” on a mailer has been realized by the majority of consumers as shorthand for direct mail, so personalization can help a mailer make it in front of more eyes. Printing technology has also made it easier to change substantial parts of the body of a message, not just the address field. Increased customization, such as including the name of recipients in the body of a mailer’s text, can hold readers’ attention longer. Using this tactic requires businesses to make sure they have the correct spelling and even the preferred casual form of a recipient’s name on file, or the effectiveness will be mitigated. Using list management software to update and clean name and address records can help businesses avoid mistakes in this area. A business that decides to use a trend such as customized printing or attracting lapsed customers needs to make sure they’re doing everything possible to make the effort a success.

Article Provided By Satori Software. Visit Satori Online.

3 Benefits for Adding Printing Solutions to Your School

By Michael Garofola | Wed June 25, 2014

Teacher and StudentWith the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference right around the corner, I thought we could talk about some important ways printing solutions help the education industry to save money, meet security concerns and enhance productivity:

  • Take control & save green. The use of color in a classroom is very important. in fact, it’s so important that it can help increase student retention by 78% while also increasing students’ willingness to read and participate by up to 80%*. Pretty cool, right? But with budgets always a concern, schools cannot afford to allow everyone to print in color whenever they want. To help deal with these concerns, many printing solutions are out there that control printer usage by setting up who and what can print in color, in black & white, or not at all. By limiting color usage, the school/district can allow color printing to benefit student learning, while also saving some green.
  • Print on-the-go. As technology becomes more and more advanced, the concept of bringing-your-own-device (BYOD) is a growing trend in the classroom setting. Therefore, schools are creating a more dynamic learning environment, where students use mobile devices –like tablets – in the classroom. Yet despite the obvious perks, BYOD brings a ton of security concerns, as well as considerations relating to mobile device printing. Offering easy-to-use printers that are compatible with mobile devices and include security features are necessary for the schools of the future.
  • Get more done, faster. Because testing students and analyzing results remain intricate and time-consuming processes, teachers aren’t given the opportunity to address student learning gaps. While every type of testing has its challenges, schools have reached the point where additional efficiency is needed. Teachers should focus their time on teaching, and districts need to find solutions to severe budget challenges. Providing schools with solutions that can increase efficiency (such as an automated test grading solution) will benefit not only the educator, but also the student who will get more one-on-one time with their teacher.

In education as in other settings, it is important that printing solutions exist to control costs while helping improve daily processes and workflow.

Article Provided by OKI Data Solutions

Best Kept Secret in Folding 2

Best Kept Secret in Folding, Part II | By Doug Barrett

If you are folding digital print, automation is a must. In the old days when folding offset work you had a nice stack of set up stock you could use to set up your folder. That is not the case with digital. I cannot tell you how many times I see a printer waste 50-100 sheets to get a fold just right on a 50-100 sheet run. The difference with digital is that the 50-100 thrown away for set up cost exactly the same as the ones that were delivered. Chances are you had to go back to the print engine to run more to complete the count due to waste.

The price of an automated folder is higher but the cost of ownership and production is far lower. When doing super short runs the setup time and waste is more critical than the run. When doing fold jobs that are 500 or less the set up can be far longer than the run on a manual folder. With long print runs that were folded, you sold folding time and included or charged a fee for setup. In today’s digital print world you are selling the setup not the running of the job. A really good folder operator might be able to set up a trifold in 5-10 minutes plus a few sheets of waste and then the folder will run for 5 minutes while the 500 sheets are run.

That same job on a Horizon folder will be set up and tweaked in about 2 minutes maximum with no more than 1 or 2 sheets of set up waste. Then the machine will run the job in 5 minutes. Complicated folds on manual folders can take hours to dial in and a lot of skill that only experienced folder operators have. I can teach anyone to easily dial in complicated folds using the touch screen interface and the tools that Horizon gives you.

You can buy a manual folder for about half of the price of fully automated. It is very difficult for buyers to understand that they should spend the extra money for automation. They look at the price and say, “I can set up a lot of jobs for the extra money.” That is true to a point but these machines will last 20 years. Every day that you use the automation you will be paid back with time savings and the near elimination of waste of expensive digital output for complicated fold set ups. Horizon folders are “time machines”, I say that because every time your operator touches the Horizon you get paid back for your intelligent investment in an automated folder.

This is a pure case of  the price of the machine being higher but in the long run being the lowest cost of ownership and operation. When I say higher priced I am comparing Horizon to competitive manual folders. If you compare apples to apples the Horizon will be more automated and be less money.  None of the other folder manufacturers even have the same degree of automation that Horizon folders have.

Don’t get caught up in the big names of the past, those guys don’t come close to Horizon and what they bring to the market today. When you buy from the traditional folder manufacturers you are buying the name. When you buy Horizon you are getting the ultimate in automation and that pays you back every time you turn it on.

Don’t believe me? Check it out for yourself!

Night of Nights

Night of NightOn July 12, 1999 the US closed commercial Morse operations, but every year since, on that anniversary, the Maritime Radio Historical Society commemorates maritime radio by bringing stations KPH, KSM and KFS back on the air for one night. Other existing radio stations participate with related content.

The Best Kept Secret in Folding

The Best Kept Secret in Folding | By Doug Barrett, June 2014

If I say, name a console folder manufacturer, you probably wouldn’t come up with the name Horizon.  Horizon is the most relevant manufacturer of finishing equipment in the world today. Automated folders are a huge part of the product line made by Horizon. I say they are the most relevant manufacturer because all of the machines they design and manufacture are the most automated machines in the world.  Horizon designs their machines to be profitable running jobs that are only a few sheets and to be able to handle long run work as well.

The key difference with Horizon, is that they never take an older model and try to modify it to make it more up to date, or do something it was not initially intended to do when first engineered. Horizon builds a new model with exacting requirements for what it will be designed to do. The traditional folder manufacturers take older manual models and add automation to them. Very often compromises have to be made in order to make new add-ons work with older designs. Our competitors will have a manual version of the machine and then have different automation packages available as options or upgrades. In every case, once you get their fully automated solution, it will be at a higher price and will not have the total automation that the Horizon folder has. The philosophy of Horizon is that the printers of today need total automation and as a manufacturer, if they build only automated machines, then they can build machines for a lower price point.

Horizon has been putting touch screen interfaces on all machines they build since 1995.  All set up, running and operating parameters are entered through that screen. Two-hundred jobs can be stored into memory, all tweaks are saved so when it is pulled back up it comes exactly back to where it was within seconds. The interface that Horizon has designed is elegant and powerful. Jobs that might take hours to dial in on a manual folder can be dialed – in just a few minutes. Once they are saved in memory you can call them back up in about 90 seconds. They can be modified and saved or modified for this job only.

When I say fully automated, I mean fully!

Not only do the fold plates set but also the feeder head, side lay guide, and guides in the right angle and those fold plates as well. The roller gaps are also automatically set. All you do is put 1 sheet of the stock you are running in the caliper and all of the rollers are set to the proper gap. There is no longer a need to have a skilled operator figure out how many sheets need to go in all of the gapsets. The software in the Horizon folder sets all of them based on the thickness of the one sheet and the fold imposition chosen. They can be adjusted through the interface if necessary as issues occur with certain sheets. The machine will remember every adjustment you make to a job when saved including tweaks to roller gaps.

The final benchmark that Horizon sets is quality, durability and reliability. Horizon is a complete manufacturer. They make their own parts, including circuit boards, in house. This gives them a great deal of control, especially when it comes to quality. Horizon folders have a solid frame. You can jack-up 1 corner of a Horizon folder with a pallet jack and run it with perfect results. All competitive folders have to be perfectly level to perform and last because they have a bolted frame. Having a solid frame makes the machine more robust and makes it easier to maintain roller adjustments.

Mid-State Litho, Inc.
5459 Fenton Rd.
Flint, MI 48507