Staplers, like people, come in many different shapes and sizes. And, like people, different kinds of staplers are good at different kinds of things. Some are best for holding paper together, while others tack carpet to floors, backing into frames, or shingles onto roofs. From small manual staplers used in homes or offices, to larger industrial staplers used in binderies, staplers are useful tools that we tend to take for granted. The manufacturing process for the common household or office stapler is more complicated than you might think. Learn how staplers are manufactured here.
Parts of a Stapler
Staplers have several components and parts which are separately made and then assembled. Most manual staplers used in homes and offices have the same kind (if not necessarily the same size or shape) of basic components, and are typically made from metal and plastic. Parts may include:
- The base, which forms a stable bottom of the stapler, so it sits flat without skidding or moving on the surface where the stapler is being used;
- The anvil, usually stamped from metal, which includes the crimper or crimp area—this is the part that bends the ends of the staple, so it curves into the back of a stack of paper to keep it fastened together;
- The throat, which is where you slide the paper between the handle and the base of the stapler. This part can vary in length, so if you need to fasten something together in a way that won’t fit in a typical office or household stapler, you can get one with a longer “reach;”
- The pin, which fastens the top of stapler to the bottom, and allows it to open and close;
- The magazine, which is where you put the staples;
- The coil spring and pusher, which is the part that holds the staples toward the end of the magazine, so they’re ready to come out when the stapler’s handle is depressed;
- The leaf spring, which is a strip of metal that resists bending and allows you to open the stapler flat and still fasten paper together. It also makes the staple pop back up again after a staple is driven into paper, to be ready for the next use;
- The hammer or head, which drives the staple through the paper stack;
- The handle, which is the part on top you push down that exerts the force to push staples into the paper.
Making the Parts
Stapler parts are formed in different ways, based on the material that forms them. The spring is made of metal that has been wrapped around an appropriately-sized rod to make a coil. The metal is heated to give it elasticity, so it will do what a spring is supposed to do—stretch and then revert to its original shape. The leaf spring, anvil, base, pin, and any rivets, plus the hammer or head, may be stamped out of metal and then, if necessary, bent or shaped with hydraulic presses. For example, the leaf spring that makes the stapler pop back up again after the staple is punched through is shaped a bit like a tiny diving board. Metal parts may be painted or coated to resist rust. Finally, the covers for the handle and base are made by molding plastic.
Assembly occurs in stages, where the top and bottom half components of the stapler are put together separately, and then top and bottom assemblies are connected with the pin. The bottom, made from the base, anvil, and leaf spring may be put together by hand in a tray or “jig” to hold the pieces in place as they are positioned. A machine inserts rivets to fix the parts in their places. The top half, with the magazine, hammer, and spring pusher is separately assembled in much the same way. Then, top and bottom are joined with the pin. Finally, the plastic cap or cover will be snapped on and any skid-preventing rubber feet or pads attached.
When considering how staplers are manufactured, remember that assembly isn’t the final stage of the process: staplers go through quality control. They must be inspected to make sure they are functioning properly, and some of them will be tested for durability and lifespan. In other words, they’ll be used repeatedly until they wear out. This is to gauge whether it was simply use that caused the wear, or if there was a design flaw, defective part, or fault in the assembly process.
Different sizes and types of staplers require different staples. Forcing any staple other than the factory recommended type into the device could cause jamming or other kinds of malfunction—be sure to avoid this and only use the recommended sizes.
Most people have used manual staplers at home or in the office to bind paper together. But there are many other staplers with additional parts or assembly processes. Electric staplers have motors and electrical connections. Staplers used for construction, upholstery, flooring, fencing, and binderies may be pneumatic—meaning, powered by compressed gas rather than electricity. Some can be used with one hand, while others require two strong arms. Staplers used in industrial or construction applications may not “crimp” the staples (curl the ends of the two arms inward or outward)—instead, the stems of the staples stay straight, and the staple is driven deeply enough into the material being fastened that it holds.
A Staple Gun is a Gun
Staple and nail guns used in construction and upholstery are dangerous if improperly used. They should be regarded as real guns, and safety training is critical before using any stapler that uses power to drive staples into surfaces or thick paper stacks. Serious, permanent injuries are possible. Staplers are useful—but by no means trivial—devices and should therefore be used and handled with care.
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