Binding elements are unique not only for their structure but also for the hole-punch patterns and styles that they use. With many elements, the hole-punch style can be oval, round, square or rectangular. The number of holes punched per inch is known as the hole-punch pattern, and the right pattern will ensure that a document opens easily with no tearing.
Examples of punch patterns include four holes-per-inch, which is labeled as a 4:1 pattern, or five holes-per-inch, a 5:1 pattern and so on. Generally, the thickness of a document determines the hole-punch pattern and style that will work best, and certain binding elements use particular patterns and styles.
It’s important to know the individual styles and patterns of each binding element and which documents are best-suited to each before you purchase a wire binding machine to begin the process.
Wire Binding – There are two basic patterns used for wire binding.
- 3:1 Pattern – The most commonly used pattern for wire binding
- Punches three holes per inch
- Creates 32-33 holes for an 11-inch document which is a very tight bind
- Binds up to 120 sheets
- Hole shape: round or square
- 2:1 Pattern
- Punches two holes per inch
- Has a wider look than 3:1 pattern
- Can bind up to 1¼ -inch thick documents
- Hole shape: round or rectangular
Coil Binding – This method also has two basic patterns, but they vary by location.
- 4:1 Pattern – This pattern is considered standard for coil binding in the U.S.
- Punches four holes per inch
- Creates 43-44 holes on an 11-inch document
- Best for documents up to 1-inch thick
- Hole shape: round
- A coil punch machine can create larger holes to accommodate thicker wire when necessary, and these holes are oval-shaped.
- 5:1 Pattern – More commonly used in Canada and Europe
- Punches five holes per inch for a very tight bind
- 54-55 holes along an 11-inch spine
- Cannot bind documents of more than 152 sheets or document will not open cleanly
- Hole shape: round
Comb Binding – There is one standard pattern for comb binding. What differs is the size of the spine.
- Standard pattern of 19 holes along an 11-inch document or 26 holes on legal-sized documents
- Spine sizes based on document thickness; largest can bind up to 425 sheets (2-inches thick)
- Hole shape: rectangular
If you can’t decide which binding style you like or need for your on-site binding, you’re in luck. Simply purchase a wire binding machine that can punch different patterns with the quick change of a die.
Remember, however, that coil and wire use two completely different hole-punch patterns. So be sure to check that your wire binding machine can create both types of patterns and styles before you buy it, or you’ll need a separate coil punch machine to create round holes in the proper pattern for coil binding.