Still working on this one……
The booklet contains bleeds which extends the color off the edge of the page and is trimmed off. The design was created in Adobe InDesign.
The Image Transfer Lab runs a Ryobi 3302 HA 2 color offset lithographic printing press. To create a full color document, it requires two runs through the press. Cyan and black were printed on the first run. At the next run date, careful alignment and registration was made to ensure that yellow and magenta fit into it’s place and that the other color densities were met.
The signature sheets were printed with the final output pages in the proper position so that when folded the pages are in order. Two right angle folds were efficiently done with the Mathias Baurle folder; which is a buckle folder. The booklet is then saddle stitched using the Bindery-Mate stitcher. This makes the document lie flat and it opens completely. The booklet was trimmed into fished output using the Challenge 265 paper-cutter.
On March 26, the DIGM 3350 met at Gulf States Label Co. Their location is near Clay Road and the Sam Houston Tollway. The printing plant specialty is custom labels using flexography. Mike Williams, President/Sales, began our tour with some details about the outfit. The company has been in business for 11 years and a total of 30 years of experience under their roof. He introduced Bob Nicolosi, as our guide from that point forward. Bob is the one in the company for technical expertise.
We entered the print manufacturing area. Bob began by discussing the difference between flexography and offset lithographic printing. Mainly, flexography is a direct method that uses relief plates. Their presses are very different from all the rest I have seen on these field trips. Rotary flexography was invented in the 1950’s. Some advancement has been made in the dies and plates; otherwise the process remains as it was in the early days. Bob continued by giving us an overview of the cylinder and plates. We were shown plates in varying stages of completion and a set of plates for color separation. The flexible plate is mounted on a metal cylinder. The first press was in makeready mode and not quite ready for us.
The 16” press was running a job. The group made its way over to the 6-color machine. This is an in-line press that has separate tower for each color and a drying unit at the bottom of each tower, so that color with be dry before the next is applied. This press is capable of running 500 feet per minute. A die-cut was being used to cut the unwanted sticker portion away from the backing. This portion was being fed onto its own roll above the press. The output was sheet of label that the customer was planning on feed through their own laser printer.
We went back over to the other press and the pressman was not doing so well. Bob took matters into his own hands and restarted the press (or as Mr. Stokes said rebooted).
We stopped by the Production Department. These ladies are finishing the job by putting the labels on cores, rolling them up and counting by measuring increments of 10”. Bob talked about his start in the printing business. In 1977, he began by rewinding labels. He reminisced about the old-style, a more hands-on than today. He continued by telling us that the problem labels were spliced out of the web and flagged for the production department to be aware.
We finally got a look at the 8-color 10” press in action. We walked down the side of the press. It was very easy to tell all the parts of the process. The ink reservoir was full and the ink was thin. The Anilox Roller provided ink from the reservoir and the doctor blade wiped the excess. The soft plate with raised images was wrapped around the plate cylinder and was being inked. The impression cylinder rolls the opposite direction of the plate cylinder with the substrate passes between the two. The impression cylinder pressed the web-fed labels into the raised images. The web then goes through an in-line dryer. There was also a die-cut being use on this press. Just like the other, the sticker portion that was not label was cut and removed, while the labels remained with backing. The unwanted material was spooled above the press. I found it very interesting.
I would choose to do business with Gulf States Label. I believe that they are a leader in their business. They created a niche that will sustain economic uncertainty and they know their stuff. What really impressed me was the fact that went through the UL certification process and became Authorized Label Suppliers. Bob spoke about the process briefly. Another fact that makes me what to do business with Gulf States Labels was Bob continually saying “It’s what the customer what’s…” I know these folks take care of their clients.
I think this is my favorite trip so far. I really got in there and saw a process that was all theory. I would still like to see more flexography, such as packaging and other applications. I think this is the most flexible printing process; but Bob burst my bubble when he discussed the initial cost for a top of the line 12-color in-line press would run about half million. I won’t be buying my own flexographic press any time soon. Guess I’ll stick to Serigraphy until I graduate.
The Digital Media 3350 class visited the Museum of Printing History on January 30, 2012. The museum is located at 1324 West Clay, right outside of downtown. I live in the Heights, so my drive was not bad. Our guide’s name was Amanda Stevenson, who is the museum’s curator.
The Writing Prior to Printing (3500 BC to 1400D) was our first stop. A fact of the gallery is that the Chinese invented movable type. I understand why it did not catch on. Their alphabet is huge and it would take allot work to produce the characters. Another point of interest was the Hyakumanto Dharani Scroll. It dates 764 – 770 AD and it came from Nara, Japan. It is one of the few remaining block printed dharani scrolls and is one of the oldest surviving examples of printing on paper.
The Renaissance Gallery displays a replica of the 1450’s; was built by Steve Pratt. Gutenberg united movable type and the printing press. It uses casting type, raised letterform and reads backwards. Ms. Stevenson printed the body copy from the Gutenberg Bible right there on the spot. I thought that great but she work her muscles to print it. She told us that there are three people that work the press. First is the compositor, who sets the letters and the spaces. The beader is who applies the ink. And the most important person is the puller, who pulls the lever to print.
The American gallery features a 19th-century Columbian iron handpress. It is a one-pull press and the platen exerts more pressure than Gutenberg’s. This allowed the printing of daily newspapers because it was faster. On the wall was an edition Pennsylvania Gazette, printed by Benjamin Franklin in 1765.
The Texas Gallery does us proud by displaying documents of the state’s first printer, Samuel Bangs. Printed pieces from the 1800;s are displayed. These documents were printed on his own press. Between this galleries were the Hall of Headlines. Newspapers from important event in history were displayed.
Hearst Newspaper Gallery
This gallery displays how the emergence of printing with linotype or “line casting machine”. As the name infers, it produce an entire line of metal type at once. In 1890, Ottmar Mergenthaler invented this device. It could easily and quickly set complete lines of type for use on printing press. This machine revolutionized the art of printing.
The Film, the Harvest of Wisdom
The Harvest of Wisdom is film about the history of written communication from prehistoric to present times. I actually watched this on the Digital Media’s website.
I believe the museum exists to display the development of essential technological innovations that lead have to today’s modern printing methods. These innovations have lead to the spread of information and to a more well-informed world.
By observing the history of printing, I realized how far society has come since the days before printed word. The invention of the printing press was evolutionary in the spreading of information. That day, I saw many historical pieces but my favorite collection was the miniature books.
- Innovations of Graphic design in China (djcadchina.wordpress.com)
- #printmaking – Screen print on canvas (finished today) (myartmydisease.wordpress.com)
- Where Gutenberg worked (buzzmachine.com)
- Printing and Thinking (curusetra.wordpress.com)