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Business Franking Machine Features

Franking Machines Buyers' Guide

In order to decide which model is right for your business you'll need to get a feel for the various franking machine features available.

The base of the franking machine is essentially an envelope handler, designed to transport your mail through the franking machine. Prices for bases start at several hundred pounds, but advanced options can push the price into thousands of pounds. Although it may sound expensive, it can be more cost-effective than paying a monthly rental or leasing fee.

The four main parts of a base include the feeder, sealer, stacker, and tape dispenser.

Envelope Feeder

A feeder guides envelopes through the franking machine and affixes the correct postage based on the current rates. Although you can get a relatively cheap franking machine without a feeder, feeding a large amount of mail by hand is quite tedious.

You have the choice of a semi-automatic feeder, which lets you feed in a handful of envelopes at a time, or an automatic feeder where no manual feeding is needed. Automatic systems are quite expensive, starting at around 800 more than similar semi-automatic systems, which cost about 500, but they can speed the process immensely for very high-volume work.

Feeders are rated by their feeding speed. A slow machine will process 15 letters per minute, while the fastest operate at about 270 letters per minute.

Envelope Sealer

A sealer moistens the envelope flap and closes it. On the less expensive systems, the sealer is more of a moistener than an actual "sealer."

Unfortunately, the sealer tends to be the most unreliable component of a franking machine system. Because of the presence of glue and water, sealers often gum up and require regular cleaning.

Envelope Stacker

After mail is franked, it must be cleared from the machine. This requires a stacker. Cheaper stackers are no more than a catch tray placed at the edge of the machine and designed to hold franked pieces of mail.

Power stackers can stack more envelopes by using a conveyor mechanism to move the stamped pieces away from the franking machine's edge. These power stackers can add 700 to 1400 to the cost of a mailing system, and can only form part of the fastest systems.

Tape Dispenser

When sending larger parcels or odd-shaped mail, it is not always possible to print the indicia directly onto the package. In these cases, strips of adhesive paper, called tape, are fed through the franking machine and affixed to the package.

Unless it is carefully fed, the franking machine may miss the strip entirely and waste postage. If you will be using tape often, it is worth getting a base that has a tape dispenser.

Tape dispensers are available in two varieties: pre-cut dispensers that use single pieces of tape and dispensers that use a roll of tape. Bases equipped to use roll tape usually cost significantly more than bases using pre-cut tape, but can result in lower operating costs over time.

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