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Zig zag folding What is it?

Let’s talk about zig zag folding

One of the most common print finishes you will see is folding. Folding is a procedure that usually takes place after printing and cutting. It is done by special devices called folding machines, which fold the material off-line or in-line, according to the pre-set plan and design.

Z-folding is a method of document folding that uses two parallel folds to create six equal-sized panels: three panels on each side of the paper.

The two folds are made in opposite directions, which forms a figure that resembles the letter Z.

The zig zag folding method is commonly used for print products such as letters, brochures and pamphlets.

Zig-zag folding is sometimes referred to as 3-panel fanfolding or 3-panel zig-zag folding.

What other types of folding are there besides zig-zag folding?

When it comes to folding, there are three main parameters: where the paper is folded, the direction of the fold and the number of times it is folded.

Naturally, this gives rise to a large number of possibilities and permutations.

Depending on the type of fold you choose, you may have to shorten the width of the pages that fold inwards in the design process.

The following is a brief description of some of the most common folding methods available, to familiarise yourself with them.

Single or cross folding

Simple folded diptych
Single fold or cross fold

Single folding is also called cross folding. It is actually the simplest type of folding: the sheet is folded in one place exactly once, resulting in a final product with four pages (two outer and two inner).

For example, if you need a four-page A5 booklet, an A4 sheet is printed and folded in the middle parallel to the shorter sides.

Unlike the Zig zag folding, it is simpler and with 4 sides printed instead of 6.

Door fold

Leaflet door folding.
Door folding

The door fold owes its name to the fact that it works like a door. The sheet is folded twice parallel to the shorter sides, so that the edges of the two flaps meet almost, but not quite, in the middle without overlapping.

For best results, if you are working with a 150-millimetre format, you should make the centre section 76 mm wide, while the two flaps together add up to 76 millimetres minus two, i.e. 74 mm (37 mm each).

Tip: door folds are ideal for advertising brochures of all kinds and especially suitable if you want to present a surprise or give the reader the feeling that they are unwrapping something.

Regarding the zig zag folding, it usually results in 8 different sized faces.

Wraparound folding

Zig zag folding
Wrap-around folding

Roll folding, also known as tri-folding (in its simplest version) or barrel folding, is commonly used for multi-page advertising brochures.

To create the popular tri-fold, the sheet is folded inwards twice: once on each side, dividing it into three sections of approximately equal width and resulting in six pages. It can also be folded three or four times (resulting in a wrap-around fold and a barrel fold with eight and ten pages respectively).

When preparing the print data for such a fold, you need to know which pages will be inside. The reason is that they have to be slightly narrower than the other pages, otherwise the paper would fold when folded, making the final product rather unsightly.

The more pages there are, and especially the more pages that fold inwards, the narrower they should be.

Imagine the flat, unfolded fold of a six-page tri-fold brochure. The top part contains pages five, six and one. The left-hand page, i.e. page five, is the one that will be folded inwards first and should therefore be somewhat narrower. The general recommendation is to reduce its width by about two millimetres.

If we are working with A4 sheets to create a DL format booklet, subtract 3 millimetres, resulting in a width of 97 mm for the narrow page and 100 mm for the other two pages.

To make an eight-page flyer using a wrap-around fold, you fold from the left edge to the right to the centre of the sheet, then the folded part to the right again in the centre, and finally the right flap to the left over the other pages. The first page on the left should be four millimetres narrower and the second page on the left two millimetres narrower.

Tip: Single sheets can even be placed inside a wrap-around folded booklet as they are unlikely to fall out.

It differs from zig-zag folding in the direction in which the folds are made, although both zig-zag and wrap-around folding are used to produce booklets with the same number of sides.

What considerations should be taken into account when making a zig-zag folding or any other type of folding?

If you are making a Zig zag folding on a heavier type of paper, it is a good idea to score it before making the folds. This prevents the fibres of the paper and/or the printing ink from breaking and creating a rough, inelegant edge.

Creasing (also known as creasing) is done with a rotating blade that compresses the material along a line in preparation for folding.

It is recommended for papers weighing 170 gsm or more. Slotting, on the other hand, is more laborious, as it involves removing some of the paper to prevent the ink from running off.

Grooving is not recommended for paper weighing less than 300 g/m2. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

Do you want to know about other types of finishes apart from zig zag folding? Visit our finishing section, where you can discover a number of ways to make your print jobs unique, because nowadays, you need your print products to stand out.

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