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The search for a new folder-gluer can be very daunting. There are many folder-gluer OEMs out there and each have different models, features and sizes designed for a variety of applications. When a finisher or folding carton manufacturer is in the market for an upgraded or new folder-gluer, there are several questions to ask in order to find the best fit for the market they are involved in or attempting to enter.

1. Do you run paperboard or corrugated?

The paperboard market includes folding paper cartons – sometimes referred to as just folding cartons. The corrugated market produces folding boxes that often are referred to as cardboard boxes. The folding/gluing machines for these two distinctive markets may look similar, but the design and structure of the machines are quite different. There are folder-gluers that will produce products using both of these substrates, but on a limited basis. In other words, if you wish to produce corrugated C flute boxes, don’t expect the same folder-gluer machine to produce 12-point folding paper cartons – at least not efficiently.

In addition, the paperboard folding carton market typically will have more variety to the carton styles (more folded panels) than the corrugated box market. Taking this into consideration, the folder-gluer for paperboard typically has to be more versatile in its design in order to produce a wider range of carton styles. However, a “specialty folder-gluer” for corrugated can be equipped to run some of the same styles as well and may need to run special folds for applications such as POP displays.

2. What size and style of products are you running now or considering running in the future?

Let’s take bottle carriers, for example. There are some OEMs that have designed a special section of the machine that will turn the product 90 degrees inline to the running direction. These sections are amazing to watch and can run at very high speeds. However, they are available at a considerable cost and add permanent length to the folder-gluer.

If your product line has only a couple of designs that require turning, this additional section will need to be set-up to allow other products to pass through it when not turning. If you have large -volume products that need turning, this section may work very well for you. If not, you may want to consider looking at a machine that offers tooling instead of a turning section. Tooling can be placed on the folder-gluer to turn the product, will not increase the length of the machine and can be removed from the machine when not in use. Cost savings are great. Running speed can be an issue here as the tooling will not allow the machine to run some products as fast as the turning section will. Some OEMs offer a “Right-Angle” machine for those companies that have a lot of products or long runs that require 90-degree turning. A right-angle machine offers a simpler set-up and an increased running speed when compared to the tooling option.

Other items to think about are the features and age of your current folder-gluer. Obviously, you wouldn’t be considering another folder-gluer if you haven’t examined the abilities and features of what you already have on your floor. Age can equate to repairs, and upgrade installations (if available) can lead to downtime and added cost. If you need a machine that can run 4-/6-corner products and your current side gluing folder gluer is not equipped to run them, your options are limited.

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