What Is A Vinyl Binder?

Cover image "What is a vinyl binder" showing a photo of a custom looseleaf binder.

We take our looseleaf binders seriously here at SpeedBinder, and sometimes people ask “What is a vinyl binder?” We make looseleaf binders in every style, but we got our start with heat sealed vinyl binders, so they will always have a special place in our hearts.

What Is The Purpose Of This Article?

We live in a crazy world, and in this world, you don’t exist unless Google says you exist. So we put up articles answering questions such as “What is a vinyl binder?” mostly so Google will take people to our website. Google calls this “search engine optimization”. The fact that you are reading this means it works!

At the same time, we do find this stuff interesting, and we hope you enjoy a little introduction and background discussion on our vinyl binders.

The Early Years – Invention in Germany

Friedrich Soennecken invented the first looseleaf binder mechanism in 1866 in Bonn, Germany. The son of a blacksmith, Soennecken spent his career developing various things to improve the efficiency of managing information. The Soennecken Company was particularly well noted for their fountain pens, and finally folded in 1967 once the ball point pen took over the market.

Friedrich Soennecken – Inventor of the Looseleaf Binder.

The looseleaf binder proved very popular from the start, and they caught on quickly.

Looseleaf Comes To America

Just a little more background before we answer “what is a vinyl binder?” In the US, William P. Pitt of Independence, Missouri filed for a patent on looseleaf ring metals in 1903.

Diagram from the original US Patent Office application for looseleaf binder metals.

The ring metals we use today are very similar to the description from that original 1903 patent application.

My invention relates to improvements in loose-leaf books provided with a cover and hooks for securing the loose leaves; and my object is to provide means whereby said hooks may be readily opened or closed by simply drawing their free ends apart or pressing them together, so that loose leaves may be quickly attached thereto or removed when desired.

The novel features of the invention reside in a pair of interlocking plates which, carry the hooks and hold them in an open or closed position, a spring-plate which reliably holds the hook-plates from accidental movement when the hooks are in an open or closed position, and a retaining-plate which holds the hook-plates and spring-plate together.

Description from William P. Pitt’s original looseleaf binder ring metal patent application.

The Advent Of RF Welding

World War II brought with it numerous advances in technology. In particular, advances in radio and radar technology proved very useful for commercial development.

The invention of RF (for “radio frequency”) welding is an example. A system where plastics can be joined together in a very controlled and precise way.

RF Welding is Everywhere

You’ll find RF welded products everywhere in your daily life. When you see a product made from flexible plastic and sealed seams, you’re probably looking at RF welding in action.

Demonstration of medical and food packaging uses of RF Welding process
Examples of RF Welding Process

RF Welding In The Looseleaf Industry

The looseleaf industry quickly adopted the RF welding process. We frequently call it “heat seal”, but that isn’t technically correct. RF welding uses the electro-chemical properties of the vinyl itself to target the seal areas directly. The process is similar to what happens inside your microwave oven. The food doesn’t absorb heat directly from the oven. It heats up because the microwaves energize the water inside the food. Similarly, a heat seal machine doesn’t apply heat directly. Instead it applies radio frequency energy, and the vinyl “heats itself”.

So, What Is A Vinyl Binder?

We make vinyl binders from two sheets of flexible PVC plastic heat sealed around three pieces of chipboard (front cover, back cover, and spine). The result is a tough, durable and attractive product. We decorate the binder shell with either silk screen printing or foil stamp, depending on the customer specifications. Sometimes we add a decorative stitch around the perimeter. We install the ring metals last, completing the binder.

Example of an RF Welding machine such as is used to create vinyl binders
Example of an RF Welding Machine

We use RF welding for our silk screen vinyl binders, our full color vinyl binders, and our executive vinyl binders. The common theme there is “vinyl”.


Thank you for your interest. We hope our discussion on “what is a vinyl binder?” has been interesting.

Please give us a call if you have any questions. We are here to help you find out more about ordering custom binders for your organization. Our customer service team would love to discuss your project with you. We will always do our very best to make sure you’re a hero with your boss!