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What is a Letter Folding Machine?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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A letter folding machine is a piece of equipment which is designed to fold paper. Low end machines are capable of making a basic C-fold in letter sized paper, used for professional correspondence, while others can handle uniquely sized papers, papers of unusual thickness, and more complex folding jobs. In a setting where large amounts of paper goods are processed, a letter folding machine can be extremely useful, and it will save employee time which might otherwise be spent on folding related tasks. For organizations that engage in mass mailing campaigns, a letter folding machine can be an important acquisition.

For a business that is considering the purchase of a letter folding machine, there are three concerns which should be taken into consideration when looking at available models. The first is the volume of folding which is needed. Letter folding machines do have limitations, so a business should ensure that the letter folding machine will be fast enough to keep up with the workload. Another issue is the frequency of folding jobs. A high volume machine which can stand up to hundreds of thousands of uses may be recommended for a company which sends out weekly mailers, for example. Finally, the types of folds needed should be thought about, as customized machines can offer quite an array of folding options. Paper thickness should also be considered, as should printing styles. Glossy papers, for example, require special handling.

Different feeding mechanisms are used for a letter folding machine, depending on the volume and type of paper it handles. A manual feed letter folding machine is designed for light use, such as folding business correspondence. A friction feed letter folding machine uses a series of wheels to pull paper into the machine for folding. These wheels can, however, leave smudges or damage the paper. The most expensive models use an air feed, which sucks paper in with a burst of air. For a business which handles glossy paper or delicate jobs, an air feed is usually recommended.

In addition to folding, some letter folding machines also have inserters which can be used to stuff envelopes. For high volume mailing, an inserter is an excellent idea. Others provide sealing capabilities, working with self sealing envelopes or paperwork. For big jobs, a batch counter can keep track of how much material has been produced. Other letter folding machines also have memory settings, allowing the user to store a complicated folding pattern in the machine, rather than reprogramming it every time.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a EasyTechJunkie researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By JimmyT — On Oct 17, 2011

Think about the kind of letter folders a greeting card company would have to have! Card stock is a lot thicker than normal paper and there are millions of cards printed every year.

If you are a business looking to buy letter folding equipment, how much should you expect to pay? What is the difference in price between a bi-fold and tri-fold machine or even one of the ones that can stuff envelopes?

By jcraig — On Oct 16, 2011

I would be interested to see a paper folding machine that could put the letters into their own envelopes. That seems like it would be very efficient for mass mailing companies. It is amazing what some of these office machines can do now.

I know on a show I was watching, they visited a newspaper printer and showed how they folded the papers. I don't remember exactly how it worked, though. I assume it was the same principle where a bar or something pushed down on the middle of the page. The newspaper folders would have to be very strong. Some of the national papers can get very thick.

By Emilski — On Oct 16, 2011

@stl156 - When I was in high school, I was an office aide and one of the jobs they usually gave me was folding programs for different sporting events and activities. The machine we had was probably on the lower end I would assume, but it got the job done. It went pretty quickly, but I wouldn't have any idea how many pages it folded per minute. Probably a little over one per second.

Some of the programs needed to be folded into thirds, so there were special attachments you could used depending on what needed done.

I would guess it was only because the machine wasn't a top of the line one, but sometimes the programs wouldn't be folded evenly. They would be kind of crooked and not line up right. I think that all has to do with how straight the paper folder feeds the papers into the machine.

By stl156 — On Oct 15, 2011

Wow, I don't know why I never thought of one of these existing. I guess I knew letters had to get folded somehow. I don't know how I thought it was done.

What kind of a machine is this? Like what size and shape and everything? How many pages can they usually fold in a certain amount of time?

What about for a newspaper? Do they have specially designed folders that are meant to handle the larger, more delicate pages?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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