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Home > Collator Guide

Collator Guide

Why use a collator?

The word collator may bring to mind a complicated and hard-to-use machine, but collators are very easy to use, setup and require little maintenance. We have a wide variety of collators to choose from. You can find all our collators here.

What do collators do? Collators take multiple stacks of paper, peel a sheet off of each stack and puts them together into an organized pile. You may have seen this done manually. Many companies, after making hundreds of copies of a document, will take each stack and place them on a table. People gather around the table and take a sheet off of each stack and organize picked sheets into a pile. These activities are commonly referred to as "collating parties." Collators do this much more quickly and effortlessly.

Collators are easy to setup and use. They may seem a little pricey up front, but the amount of time saved is well worth it. Not only do you save time, but you dont have to pay people to collate papers. I like to think of it as an investment.

Some collators can take up to 20 stacks of paper, collate them and staple them in the corner. Many collators can also be interfaced with a booklet maker, allowing you to create booklets on the fly. Doing this task in-house can save you a lot of money, especially when you look at how much it costs to do this at a copy center. We, at General Graphic, frequently use a collator and paper folder for making flyers and brochures.

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Things to consider before purchasing a collator:

How many papers will you collate?
You will first want to take into consideration how many sheets of paper you will collate per day. Some machines are smaller and designed for lower volumes. You dont want to purchase a machine that does not handle what you are doing. Look at how many papers you will collate now and in the future. You will also want to take paper size and thickness into consideration as well.

Is time an issue?
Different collators have different collating speeds. We even sell a collator that is manually operated. A manual collator will run as fast as you can operate it. We also sell a model that will collate up to 14,000 documents an hour. The faster you collate, the sooner you are done with the project.

Can the collator be interfaced with other paper handling machines?
Some collators can be interfaced with more collators for larger products. Some collators can also be interfaced with booklet makers. Once the paper is collated, a special interface takes the paper to a booklet maker where it is folded and stapled. These integrated machines are perfect for in-house booklet making.

How much space do you have?
You will want to make sure you have enough space for a collator. You will also want to look at the dimensions of the collator before purchasing it. Some collators are small enough to fit on a table, where other collators are larger and will require more space. It is always best to prepare for the size of the machine before you get it.

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What are the different types of collators?

Manual Collators
Manual collators do not have motors. They are completely operated by manual power. You place your stacks of paper in the collator and pull a lever that pulls one sheet off of each stack of paper. Manual collators are designed for low-volume use. These are used by churches, schools and small businesses.

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Automatic Collators
Automatic collators operate very quickly and are easy to set up. All you need to do is place a stack of paper in each bin. The collator will then pull a sheet off of each stack and organize it into a pile. Many automatic collators are available with features such as a touch screen control panel, jam detection, bin empty indicator, offset and straight stacking and more.

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Multi-Tower Collator
Most collating towers are not designed with any more than ten bins. So what do you do when you need to collate 15 or even 20 stacks of paper? If this is the case, you will need a multi-tower collator. Multi tower collators take two single collating towers and interface themselves together. The end result is a 20-bin collator. Even three tower collators are available, capable of collating up to 30 stacks of paper at a time. If you think you may be collating up to 20-30 stacks of paper anytime in the future, you will want to make sure your collator is capable of doing this.

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Collating System
Some collators can be interfaced with other pieces of finishing office equipment. One of these pieces of equipment is a stapler. Some collators can have a stapler attachment installed that will allow collators to staple collated stacks of paper in the corner. This is useful, especially when collating stacks of paper into a proposal or test. Some collators can also be interfaced with booklet makers. A booklet maker takes a stack of paper, folds it and staples it down the center. The end result is a booklet. Once interfaced, the booklet maker will take the collated stack of paper from the collator, fold it and staple it into a booklet.

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Automatic - Automatic means the machine requires little if any manual power to operate it.

Base - Some collators require a base or platform to sit on. This helps make operating the machine easier.

Bin - The bin is where you place the paper into the collator. Some collators have up to 30 bins.

Booklet Maker - Booklet makers take a stack of paper, fold it and staple it down the center. Some collators can be interfaced with booklet makers. This makes in-house booklet making inexpensive and easy.

Collator - Collators take stacks of paper and peels a sheet off of each one, turning it into an organized pile of paper. Collators are used for making tests, proposals, booklets and more.

Corner Stapler - A corner stapler can be attached to some collators to quickly staple collated piles as they come out of the collator.

Double Page Detector - A double page detector will stop a collator if the collator pulls too many sheets of paper out of a bin at any given time. This prevents major paper jams.

Friction Feed - Friction feed machines use a rubber wheel to grab paper. Friction feed machines do not work well with glossy paper as the wheel tends to slip.

Interface - An interface allows one machine to connect to another. Collators can use a special interface that allows them to work in conjunction with a booklet maker.

Manual - Manual operated machines require human interaction to run the equipment.

Mis-feed - A mis-feed is what happens when a machine tries to pull a sheet of paper from a paper bin, but does it incorrectly. This can be a result of rubber wheels slipping on the paper, or the machine failing to grab the paper at all.

Offset Stacking - Offset stacking is when a machine slightly moves the paper in the exit tray before the next paper leaves the machine. Offset stacking makes it easier to differentiate between different jobs printed or run on a machine.

Paper Stock - Paper stock is the thickness of paper. You will always want to make sure you know what paper stock you are working with before buying a piece of office equipment.

Paper Weight - Paper weight is the thickness of paper. You will always want to make sure you know what paper weight you are working with before buying a piece of office equipment.

Straight Stacking - Straight stacking is the opposite of offset stacking. When paper leaves a machine, it is stacked directly on top of paper in the exit tray.

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