Going on a press check is always so much fun—especially when it’s for a Massart piece! Since most of us at Opus are Massart alumni, we were very excited to design this year’s annual for the college and leverage it to teach our apprentice and junior designers about the design and printing process. Today, Emily, Darlene Gillan (Director of Alumni Communications, Massart) and I went to visit Puritan Capital in NH for a press check. Jake, our contact at Puritan, gave us a wonderful tour while we were waiting for the first signature to be ready.
Jake introduced us to the prepress team that reviews and revises design files to prepare them for the press. Next, we saw the big machines that laser etch and develop the printing plates. It is amazing how automated and fast this process has become. It takes about 5 minutes for one plate to be processed.
The envelope we’ll be using to send the report was on press on their smaller 5 color press. We reviewed the envelope, identified a registration error which the pressman corrected.
Next, Jake showed us the finishing areas. He explained how signatures are assembled, saddle stitched and how trimming works.
The cover of the report was printed on a larger 6-color press. We saw the ink buckets and the rollers, learned about press powder—a fine starch dust that gets sprayed on each printed sheet so the sheets don’t stick to each other, like flour when rolling out dough 🙂 — and took pictures of the press guys. The signature with the cover of the report and a few other pages was ready for us to review. We compared it to the proofs, checked the paper and all the last edits that we had requested. Everything was beautiful and correct. Darlene signed the signature to give her ok.
To finish the tour, Jake showed us their digital printer: an HP Indigo 7600 with hexachrome capability. That means that the press has a purple and orange ink in addition to the traditional CMYK to achieve more, more accurate and richer colors.
Learning about the process of print production and seeing an offset press in action is a very important and impressive experience for a designer. You just can’t imagine it until you’ve experienced it 🙂