Determining the Right Ring Mechanism for the Job

by: Alex Lintzenich, US Ring

There are many factors that come into play when determining the right ring mechanism to use for each job. It is important to know what the mechanism will be used for, as well as the look and style of the binder. In order to come up with the best selection, customers should first ask themselves the following questions:

What is the overall metal length?

The most commonly used length is an 11′ long metal. These metals are used for the standard sheet size for U.S. pages. However, there also are metals that come in both 8 ½’ and 9 ½’ sheet size for other applications. Internationally, the A-4 sheet size (11 ¾’) is the standard, but there is little call for that in the United States.

How many rings?

The three ring mechanism is the standard in most binders. There also are six ring memo metals, as well as two and four ring mechanisms. Once again, internationally, there are some differences, but both the three and four ring metals can be found.

What is the capacity?

It is important to know how much the customer will be loading onto the rings. Most suppliers should be able to assist in determining the correct ring size, based on number of pages and page weight. If the customer does not know the quantity to be placed on the rings, it is best to err on the side of extra capacity as in most cases, reducing the number of printed pages to be placed in the binder is usually not an option.

What type of ring style to use?

There are three main ring styles: Round, Straight D, and Angle D. Each has its own set of advantages and uses described below:

  • Round: This is the most commonly used ring style, as well as the most economical. This style is used in practically every application and also comes in a variety of options and usually is mounted on the spine of the book. Round rings are the most heavily stocked and easy to locate.
  • Straight D: This style has a larger holding capacity than that of a regular round ring. The Straight D also will reduce paper tear as the pages move across the rings. This metal is mounted on the back cover, which allows the user to print along the spine.
  • Angle D: This ring type has the most holding capacity of any of the three styles of rings. While the pages are in the metal, there also is a stair-step effect, allowing the user to see all the tabs at once. As with the Straight D, this metal is mounted on the back cover, allowing the user to print on the outside spine. The design of this ring metal ensures easy paper loading, as the metal is perpendicular with the spine when it is in the open position.

Each of these rings has its own set of benefits. Choosing a ring style is up to customer preference and the particular job for which the rings will be used. It also is important to remember that all three of these ring styles are available in the options highlighted below.

Light Duty vs. Heavy Duty

In most situations, this is a preference decision more than a functionality decision. However, there are situations where it is important to look at these two differences. Customer use is the best indicator of which of these ring metals to use. If the ring metal will be used by a student with the idea that they will purchase a new binder each semester, then light duty is the way to go. However, if the ring metal will be used by a contractor out in the field, then heavy duty is the best selection.

Do you need a locking function?

Many times customers look for a ring mechanism that has a locking function because they want to be sure that the information stored in the binder stays in the binder. As the size of the ring is increased, a locking function becomes more helpful because the weight on the rings sometimes causes the ring metal to open on its own. A locking function helps prevent this from occurring.

What type of finish on the ring?

Most mechanisms come in a nickel or chrome finish, but black and brass metals have their own applications. Again, this is usually a preference decision but something that definitely adds style and elegance to the finished binder. What type of book are you producing?
It is important to identify what type of binder will be attached to the mechanism and how it will be attached. There are now different options, from a standard eyeleted metal to a Securemore (prong) metal that allows the mechanism to attach to the binder without the need for a rivet. Many people prefer this feature as it allows the customer to print on the spine, producing an eye-appealing, attractive binder as well as creating cost-saving efficiencies for the binder manufacturer.

Are new ring metals being developed?

US Ring has developed a new ring metal, “Insta-Clik”, which can instantly be opened with a touch of a finger. Insta-Clik is a single triggered, easier opening product that is an excellent option for young children, as it has an anti-pinch feature to it. Insta-Clik also is beneficial for customers with a physical disability who find that opening the traditional ring metal is difficult. This mechanism also can be used in an area where it is important for the customer to maintain a quiet atmosphere, such as a library or classroom. With these questions as your guide, you should be able to make a successful decision as to which ring mechanism to use for the particular job at hand.

US Ring is a U.S.-based manufacturer with headquarters in St. Louis, Mo. The company designs and engineers custom ring metals, dies, and metal stamping. US Ring also owns additional high-volume factories in China with US Ring direct oversight. The company has over 80 years of quality control engineering and long-term engineering managers with over 75 years of combined experience in the ring metal field. For more information, call (800) 888-8772 or visit