Many small offices and home offices are looking for a way to bind their documents, reports and presentations but don’t have the budget to spend hundreds of dollars on a binding system. That is where the GBC CombBind C50 plastic comb binding machine comes in. With a price tag of less than $70 this machine is designed for the small office that occasionally need to bind a document or presentation. Recognizing that this machine is not designed to compete with larger solutions that cost three for four times as much, this review will take a look at the features, limitations and construction of the GBC C50 binding machine.
The C50 includes everything that you need to bind a document with plastic combs or Zipbind. It has a light duty punch that is capable of punching up to 5-6 sheets of 20lb paper at a time. This punch operates just like a large desktop 3-hole punch. You simply have to push the front of the machine down to activate the punching mechanism. Realistically, you will end up punching about 4 sheets of paper at a time in order to use the machine comfortably. Clear covers should be punched one at a time on this machine and poly binding covers should most likely be purchased pre-punched.
This machine also includes an integrated plastic comb opener that is designed to open plastic combs up to ½” in diameter. The comb opener on this machine will not open wide enough to open larger sized combs. This means that the C50 is limited to thinner books and documents. The comb opener is operated by two handles (one on each side of the machine). You simply push the handle away from you to open the plastic comb. The fact that there are two handles makes the machine user friendly for both left handed people and right handed people.
The Combind C50 also includes a paper edge guide that is adjustable for letter sized paper, oversized covers and A4 sized paper. The edge guide is simple to operate. All you need to do is turn a small wheel with your finger and the edge will be set for the correct size of paper. In fact, the edge guide is one of the easiest to use of any of the comb binding machines that I have seen. It is a definitely bonus on a machine at this price tag.
Like most smaller binding machines the CombBind C50 aslo has some limitations that should be noted. As a low priced machine it is not designed for high volume users and can’t handle certain applications.
This machine is designed to punch three lengths of paper (letter size, A4 size and oversize cover). If you are going to need to punch or bind other sizes including landscape documents or half letter (8.5″ x 5.5″) books you will need a machine with disengageable punching pins. This machine does not include this feature.
As was noted above, the C50 is not capable of opening larger sized plastic comb binding spines. The fingers for the opener on this machine is made of plastic and attempting to use it with larger combs could result in one of the teeth breaking off. This means that you will be limited to documents that contain less than 90 sheets of 20lb bond paper. This machine should also not be used with 3/16″ diameter combs since the distance of the holes to the edge of the paper will make documents difficult to use with such small comb binding spines.
As might be expected of a machine in this price range, the C50 is composed mostly of plastic. For the most part this should not be a problem since this machine is built for light volume applications. My only concern would be the teeth for the comb opener (the parts that stick up). These teeth seem a little bit flimsy and could potentially break off if you are not careful. With this in mind, I would estimate that the GBC C50 has a useful life of approximately two years under normal circumstances.
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the GBC C50 binding machine to a small office or home office that needs to put a few documents together. It is also an ideal solution for mobile solutions where a binding machine is needed in your card or mobile office. In fact, it is a popular choice of appraisers and home inspectors who bind reports on site. However, if you bind more than a few documents per week I would suggest buying a larger machine. Swaging machine