An Introduction to Plastic Comb Binding

Plastic comb binding is the most popular binding method used in North America. Also known as GBC Binding, Ibico Binding, Cerlox, Surlox or Combbind this binding method has been around for decades and is used by schools, businesses and print shops across the United States. In fact, you have probably seen cookbooks, reports, proposals and manuals bound with plastic combs. If you are considering binding your companies documents with plastic combs here are a six things you might want to know.

plastic comb binding

Plastic Comb Binding Spines

  1. Although the most commonly used color for plastic comb binding is black, plastic binding combs are available in more than twelve different colors. The current colors that are readily available on the market are: black, white, clear, red, yellow, navy blue, royal blue, maroon, forest green, kelly, green, gray and brown. In addition to these colors, it is sometimes possible to find plastic combs in specialty styles such as the new GBC Matte Combs which are available in black and frost or GBC gel combs (currently only available in steel blue).
  2. Plastic comb binding supplies are available in sizes from 3/16” up to 2”. Combs that are 3/16” – 1-1/8” are round in shape. Combs that are 1-1/4” up to 2” are oval in shape and have specially designed locks to prevent the document from coming apart if it is picked up by the spine. Although plastic combs are available in 3/16” these combs are very small and difficult to use. It is best to bind documents with combs no smaller than ¼”
  3. Plastic comb binding uses a 19 ring hole pattern (19 rectangular holes along a 11” piece of paper). However, combs are readily available in 15 ring lengths for binding half size books (or for landscape binding), in 21 ring lengths for A4 binding and in 24 ring lengths for binding legal sized documents. Other lengths of plastic combs are available by special order in select colors. Please note that if you want to bind a document with plastic combs that are longer or shorter than 11” you need to make sure that your binding machine has disengageable dies to ensure that the holes don’t run off the end of your paper.
  4. Binding documents using plastic combs requires a special device called a comb opener. Most desktop comb binding machines include a plastic comb opener. Larger electric binding punches will sometimes require a standalone comb opener. In order to use the comb opener on your machine, you simply place the comb onto the opener and pull the handle to open the comb you then insert the pages of your document (which you have already punched with your binding machine) onto the comb and then release the handle to allow the comb to close.
  5. Plastic comb binding spines can be imprinted with the name of your company, your company logo or the name of your report. This imprinting is done by either foil stamping or silk screening the information onto the comb. For a quote on having your information printed onto plastic comb binding supplies, simply give us a call.
  6. Many plastic comb binding machines have an adjustable depth of punch margin control. This control allows you to select how far the holes are located from the edge of the page. This depth of margin control is important for use with very small combs so that the pages turn freely and very large combs so that the pages do not tear out from your documents.

If you are considering plastic comb binding as an option for your office or already have a plastic comb binding machine, hopefully these six things have been helpful for you. If you have more questions just remember, it never hurts to ask.

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