Because we offer both methods and they kind of look alike, customers often ask us about the differences between coil (also known as “spiral”) and comb binding. There are a couple of important ones. Hopefully this post will help you decide which binding method to use for your project.
Coil and comb binding look alike because they are very similar. With both binding methods, one edge of every sheet (and covers) is punched with holes and then a piece of rigid material is inserted through the holes. This process secures the edge of the book while also allowing it to open and lay flat. There is no glue used in the process, only punching, inserting the binding material, and closing the binding. Importantly, both coil and comb binding can quickly make a book out of an ordinary stack of paper — they can bind paper that has already been printed on. This is not the case with many other binding methods, such as perfect binding and saddle stitching, where the project usually must be printed in a special way, the pages printed in a specific sequence, or a wrap-around cover created, in order to bind them. Many of our clients choose coil or comb binding to “spruce up” a document for a presentation, proposal or event, often adding a clear cover and a black vinyl backing to finish the job. Coil and comb bindings also come in multiple colors, and matching colored vinyl backings are available. Both of these methods can also be used to bind books of different dimensions and thicknesses. (Note: here our limits are 14″ on the bound edge and approximately 350 sheets per volume.)
So with so much in common, why would you choose one method over the other? Here are a few possible reasons:
The first difference between the two has to do with your ability to add or remove content. With comb binding, your book can be easily opened up to add or remove pages without destroying the binding. So if you have a document that changes over time, such as a marketing presentation that will be edited and re-used, comb binding may be the better choice. You simply open up the binding, replace pages, and then close the binding. While it is possible to make such changes to coil-bound books, the coil must be cut and destroyed when the book is opened up to replace content. The book can then be re-bound, but it will be at a higher cost than with comb binding, especially with thicker books.
The second difference is durability. We’ve found that coil is significantly more durable than comb. Coil is made of thicker, stronger material. It also feeds through smaller round holes which run the entire length of the edge, as opposed to the larger, more separated rectangle holes drilled in the comb binding process. Coil doesn’t have any moving parts, while comb bindings can come open. This means there is less wear and tear on the edge of a coil bound book. So if you need your book to last longer, coil is the better choice.
The last difference — and perhaps the most important to you — is price. Coil (spiral) is slightly more expensive than comb — especially for very thick books!
We hope this information helps. Feel free to call or come in with more questions about binding options.