Comb binding, also known as Cerlox or Surelox binding, is a very popular method for binding print pieces. Similar to spiral binding, this binding technique involves the insertion of a plastic spine into holes punched along the edges of the paper and cover.

What differentiates comb binding is the style of the spine, which allows for easy replacement or removal of the pages. This makes comb binding an ideal choice for reference books, cookbooks, business reports, study guides and other materials. Next, we’ll dive into how this binding method works and the advantages is can have for your next print piece.

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The Comb Binding Process

Comb binding uses a cylindrical plastic spine with multiple curves tines that serve to hold the pages of a book together. Each tine along the comb is pre-formed into a closed ring shape; similar to a spring, but with thicker tines. Each of these tines also has a small amount of tension. They are flexible enough that they can be pulled open, but strong enough to snap back to the circular shape. This flexibility is key to the binding process. To better understand this concept, let’s look at how comb binding is performed.

When comb binding a book, the curved tines are spread open and inserted through rectangular slots punched along the edges of the book’s cover and pages. Once the pages and cover are in place, the tension on the spine is released, and it returns to its original shape. This creates a secure book binding that hold all the pages together, while still allowing the pages to turn freely.

Related: How to Choose Paper Stock for Your Next Print Job

Advantages of Comb Binding

One of the main benefits of comb binding is that it allows books to be held open hands-free. For this reason, it makes a great option for the binding of cookbooks, study guides, reference manuals or any other book that you may want to refer to while your hands are busy doing other things.

Another benefit comb binding offers is that it allows the pages of the book to be added or removed relatively easily. Simply open the spine, remove the page you want, thread the new one in, and close the spine again. The plastic combs come in a variety of sizes, so that they can accommodate books that vary in thickness.

If you’re trying to decide between comb and spiral binding, consider that you can print directly on the plastic of a comb spine due to its larger surface area, while this is not the case in spiral binding. Comb binding also allows for pages to be added and removed more easily than with spiral binding. However, a spiral bound book can open a full 360 degrees, while a comb bound book can only open 180 degrees.


Still not sure if this is the book binding technique you need for your next print job? Contact the print experts at Ironmark to get the advice you’re looking for. They can help you weigh your options carefully and decide which will work best for you.

Written by Matt Marzullo

For over 28 years, Matt Marzullo has been a noteworthy leader in the print industry. Marzullo’s sharp business acumen and technical savvy allowed him to take risks others in the industry could not, making Ironmark one of the most forward-thinking communications companies in the field. His willingness to change processes and leverage new technologies for automation allowed Ironmark to enter new markets. In 2019, Matt Marzullo was promoted to President of Ironmark and became a partner in the businessin 2020. Alongside CEO Jeff Ostenso, the two work seamlessly together as they move Ironmark into the next phase of its growth, acquisition plan, and national footprint. Today, Marzullo deploys his trail-blazing leadership to oversee Ironmark’s $40m portfolio of business and ensure the company remains at the forefront of the print and communications industry.

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