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Question and Answer

Challenges with Folding/Gluing CD Wallets

by Jeff Peterson

August-September, 1999
Not too many years ago, trade finishers were purchasing folding/gluing equipment for one main purpose…presentation folders. In today's marketplace, folding/gluing has expanded to many areas, including video boxes, airline ticket holders, and, most definitely, CD wallets.

Just a few years ago, it was hard to find a PC that came standard with a CD ROM drive, so CDs for computer use were fairly insignificant. Today, you simply cannot purchase a computer without a CD ROM, and most all software is sold on CD. This enormous increase in computer CD usage has translated to a similar increase in packaging for CDs-known industry wide as CD wallets or CD jackets.

The biggest challenges with folding/gluing CD wallets are all the different types of configurations customers are asking for. The simple, single CD wallets have evolved into more complicated designs that also incorporate such things as reinforced covers, through sleeves, pockets, tear-a-way cards, or even packages that hold up to 12 CDs! These types of wallets often demand a combination of advanced folder/gluer options and operator know-how. Eventually, operators will be challenged by two directional gluing with possibly several different patterns or multiple fold-overs that may be perpendicular to one another. These scenarios will likely lead into added in-line capability such as airgates, multiple glue controllers, tab blasters/gappers, hot melt systems, flipgates, cross carriers, and modular in-line add-ons. Folder/gluer manufacturers are now being asked if they can supply machines that will insert the CD itself in‑line with the folding/gluing process of the CD wallet. One manufacturer told InsideFinishing that the technology is out there, it is just a matter of bringing the proper pieces together to make it happen.

From what we have discussed above, the first priority for a trade finisher who is considering expanding business with CD wallets is to make sure the folder/gluer you currently have or that you are considering buying has the capability to do a variety of different CD wallet designs. If your folder/gluer can only handle simple CD wallet designs, your potential market may be limited. This may mean that you need to consider adding an additional folder/gluer or upgrading your current machine with the proper attachments. Some folder/gluer manufacturers can build specific parts or plates for unusual folding/gluing jobs. This is an excellent resource if you are running CD wallets because of the many potential CD formats out there. With so many potential CD wallet configurations, it is recommended that you see, firsthand, the folder/gluer that you are interested in run several types of CD wallets at production speeds. Be aware of how long different configurations take to setup and the speeds each different type can run. As any finisher will tell you, the cost of a folding/gluing job is almost all in the set-up, so the flexibility of a folder/gluer to quickly change from one job to the next is a very important factor to consider.

One of the specific challenges with CD wallets is that most all of them are printed or foil stamped on 14 to 16 point stock. The thicker stock can cause problems with cracking and crows feet and can also increase jams or mis-fed wallets. One way to help prevent this is to control the grain direction of the stock. In most circumstances, it is recommended that the grain direction of the paper follow the score lines of the body of the wallet as opposed to running with the glue tabs. For example, if you are running a double CD wallet with 4 panels in‑line and glue tabs on the middle panels, the grain direction should be "short grain," running with the score lines for the wallet (against the score lines for the glue tabs). Doing this, will help decrease cracking and crows feet as it wraps around the radius of the rollers. Another way of preventing cracking problems is to utilize a tipper plate that eliminates the body of the wallet from having to wrap around the radius of the roller at all. Most folder/gluer manufacturers have this standard or as an option with their equipment. It is also recommended to fold and glue wallets on a straight‑line gluer versus a right-angle machine

The thick stock can sometimes leave dents and marks on the outside of the wallet on a right-angle folder/gluer.

In addition to the challenges that the stock thickness causes, many CD wallet designs include very narrow glue tabs. Folding and applying glue to them can be difficult due to a lack of open area on the side of the machine to attach folding accessories and glue guns. It is recommended that your folder/gluer have folding devices specifically made for narrow glue tabs on CD wallets and pocket folders. Once these folds are made, the folded glue tab can be directed under a carrier belt where the score is ironed and glue is applied. If at all possible, glue tabs should be 1/2" or wider in width. This could be the deciding factor in running 5,000 pieces per hour or 10,000 pieces per hour. While you may have to use a little more paper, the folding/gluing will benefit greatly.

Another suggestion to help create the best scenario for running CD wallets is to always place the glue tabs on the body of the wallet format rather than on the pocket. For instance, a double CD wallet with glue tabs on the leading and trailing flaps is near impossible to fold and glue automatically because the glue tabs will be very difficult to hold down and the double thickness will crack and cause crows feet. By placing the tabs on the body, the operator will have a greater amount of flexibility when choosing a set‑up that works best for the job.

Although problems with coatings is not a specific challenge with CD wallets, it is worth mentioning because it is extremely important. Whenever possible, block out coatings over areas of the sheet that are intended for gluing. This can avoid costly and time-consuming mistakes due to adhesives not bonding to the sheet. If this cannot be controlled and the coating is suspect to problems, test a sheet by applying the adhesive over the specified area. Allow the sample to stay compressed for approximately 2 hours for cold glue and 30 minutes for hot melt. In either case, you want to make sure the adhesive is fully dry. If not completely cured, the glue can be deceptive when pulling it apart. You may think the glue has penetrated when you see the fiber tear, but in reality, the glue's moisture has temporarily weakened the sheet. It may still "pop" free with very little force once the surface is completely dry.

There is little doubt that the market for CD wallets is going to continue to grow, and the demand for more unique (and difficult) formats will grow as well. By choosing a folder/gluer with flexible capabilities and by following the suggestions we have mentioned in this article, CD wallet jobs can be something to look forward to, not avoid.

InsideFinishing would like to thank Chris Pett of Brandtjen & Kluge (800-826-7320), Mark Fasano of Dick Moll & Sons (8000-223-3922), and Jeff Wilcox of American International Machinery, Inc. (414-764-3223) for their contributions to this article.