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Scoring 101

There is nothing that has more of a direct effect on the quality and speed of paper folding production than proper scoring. With the large varieties of stocks available, choosing the best scoring option can help eliminate unwanted headaches. Whether buckle folders, scoring wheels or machine scores, each procedure done properly has its benefits and limitations. The trick is to know what method of scoring to use to make the job better.

Often on thin stocks, an inline score from a printing press or scoring machine will provide satisfactory results. However, when thicker stocks are used, the results from these methods fall short and cracking or bursting occurs leaving the final product looking unfinished. When these methods do not achieve acceptable results, the materials will often be sent out to be scored on a die cutter.

Scoring on a die cutter (commonly known as a letterpress score) is accomplished by using a rounded top rule, or scoring rule, to push the stock into a channeled counter called matrix. This creates a defined weak spot in the stock. It is on this line of weakened material, or score, that a fold can be easily made. The trick is finding the right combination of rule height, matrix and pressure needed to create a proper score. Stock thickness and the amount of linear inches being scored are the determining factors needed to find the proper combination.

The tonnage of a die cutting press is far more than can be replicated on any other scoring apparatus. Combined with the proper scoring rule and matrix, a more finely tuned set up can be done to achieve better results. For example, if a press was set up for scoring a.012 stock and a.008 sheet of material was passed through the press with the same set up, the results would be very different. The.012 material would have a crisp score with a defined bead on the inside and a pronounced channel on the other. The.008 stock would have less defined marks on both sides of the sheet because the scoring rule would not be pushing the stock into the matrix far enough. Also the channel on the matrix would be too wide to create the proper beading. In this case the paper may or may not fold properly. Just marking the paper will not guarantee a proper fold. But, because of the versatility of a die cutting press, the proper score height, pressure and matrix can be added so the same results can be achieved as were on the.012 material.

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