There are many kinds of comb binding machines available to handle on-site document production, each with its own special features. Along with choosing which of those features is right for your situation, you should also determine whether you'll do better with an electric or manual machine. While a manual comb binding machine lacks speed compared to an electric model, it makes up the difference in the control it offers. Working a manual machine lets you create a pace where you can ensure that materials are bound correctly every time. In addition, you can easily stop whenever there is an issue with the process.
From a strict business standpoint, manual comb binding machine won't drive up your electric costs every time you use them. This can be important if you're on a tight budget. Compared to manual models, an electric comb binding machine is easier to run because it doesn't require the operator to use their arm to pull a lever that punches the holes. This increases productivity because a person can work for long periods without becoming tired. In addition, an electronic model produces better quality documents with fewer missed punches than a manual machine. Missed punches occur because the punch operator has to try and move the punch lever while at the same time holding materials against the paper stop. This is awkward and also slows down the overall process.
Comb punch binding machines use a vertical paper feed to improve productivity. A vertical feed moves the paper down into the die throat with the help of gravity so all the sheets align properly before moving on to be punched, ensuring that the holes and page edges are even throughout the document. The better the alignment, the easier it will be to insert the comb binding.
Conversely, horizontal feeds don't consistently line up the document pages. Often the bottom sheet will not feed, creating a mis-punch that slows down or stops document production. However, when punching larger documents of 18 x 18 inches or more, horizontal feeds have the advantage because they keep these larger materials stable and aligned for feeding and punching. In a vertical feed, these taller papers often fall over and create mis-punches. Ensure that you can disengage the punching dies in your machine. This will allow you to set up whatever punch pattern you need and let you remove dies to eliminate partial holes at the very top and bottom of your documents.
There should be a control for changing the punch margin depth, which is the space from the edge of the paper to where holes are punched. Creating the proper amount of space will allow your bound pages turn without tearing. It also helps when binding small documents and allows room for oval comb bindings on your finished product. The comb opener on either machine should be made of metal rather than plastic so it will last through years of work.