Some years back, there was this notion that the age of computers may lead to a “paperless” world. Those who believed this thought the advent of computers and the Internet would mean the end of commercial printing. Fortunately, the advocates of the paperless world were wrong. Today, printing continues to be a thriving industry. This is to be expected because life would be very different without the role of printers and the commercial press in many parts of the world.
It is important to point out that the work done by commercial printers is not all about paper. There is much more to the process of printing than placing pieces of paper on a printer and having the desired image, picture, or document come out. Most printing service companies have a number of different but related departments. The computer department handles areas like graphics, page planning and typesetting. The lithographic department is ultimately responsible for transforming graphics to lithographic plates. These plates come in different sizes depending on the work the printer wants to do. The plates may be done in one color in this case only one plate is required per page. If the job requires full process color, each page will need four plates. One of the most popular lithographic plates for large format printing is the Cord plate. It is the preferred option for textbooks, magazines and calendars. The Sord plate is also used in some cases to print almanacs and calendars.
After making the plates, the paper is cut to the right size and the printing proper begins. First, the plates are fixed onto the machine. The paper is then placed in the right compartment. The printing machine is inked properly and the paper moves automatically to the part of the machine where it will come into contact with the plate. As the paper connects with the plate, the content of the plate is transferred to the paper. This process is called “running an impression”. Customers who want documents printed for them are usually charged impression rates per one thousand. This is why printing in multiples of one thousand books is cheaper in the long run than printing less than one thousand books.
After printing multiple pages of a book, the next stage is the collation and stitching stage. This is called “finishing” in some cases. In a well-equipped printing press, there is a machine called the “stitcher-gatherer”. This machine will gather all the different pages and move them to the stitching section where the book will be stitched. The finishing process can also be done manually. In this case, experts in the printing press can collate the different pages manually. After collation, the binding process begins. Depending on the quality the customer wants, the printer can use binding cloth to do the binding. The printer may also use a combination of padding and stitching. For small booklets, simple saddle stitch will do.
These are some of the processes involved in printing. As you can see, it takes expertise to be a printer. You also need the right equipment to get the perfect results.