Col-Tec Signature Collator

The machine was targeted at printers and trade finishers who were hand-feeding single- to four-clamp perfect binders. “These were people who didn’t have expensive fully automatic lines,” explained Col-Tec managing director Paul Bailey. Instead they were hand-gathering folded sections and then feeding them into their binders. “So we thought why not develop a cheaper alternative with a smaller footprint.”

One of the main advantages of the Signature, according to Bailey, is that its competitors all work on a similar technology in that they use a drum feeder, but “Col-Tec is different because it’s a top-loading flatbed feeder which is cheaper, more versatile and has a smaller footprint”, he claims.

Because the machine can collate folded sections and bound books, its appeal has been widened to the mail-fulfilment market, such as mail-order catalogues and direct mail.

Over the past couple of years, improvements have been made to the machine to cement its success. When it was first introduced it was limited to the total set thickness of 40mm, but over the past six years this has more than doubled to 100mm. “As a result we had to design special conveyor belts that would allow you to collate at that depth and set thickness,” says Bailey.

Optional extras include sensors built into the machine so if the operator loads the collator incorrectly the error will
be detected. A computer-programming module allows customers to use the collator for random collating. There is also an offset stacking mechanism at the end of the delivery stacker that allows the operator to separate each set in the stacker.

When buying used, check the condition of the conveyor belt, the flites and the condition of the suction head as this might need rebushing to give it back its rigidity. A six-year-old Signature with 12-months warranty will usually cost around 50 per cent of its new price.

Max sheet size 350x350mm
Min sheet size 80x100mm
Max speed 4,500 cycles per hour on feeders
Stock range Flat sheet to folded sections to stitched and perfect bound books
What to look for
• Conveyor belts
• Flites
• Suction heads

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