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web presses are so called because they are fed by a web of paper unrolling from a huge role. While a wide variety of stock is available for web presses, the necessity of tensile strength and grain orientation dictates the type of stock that can be fed into a web press. So you may find that your stock choices are a bit limited when compared to what's available for sheet-fed presses. Large-scale projects such as magazines, textbooks, newspapers and inserts are appropriate for web presses. Paper is flying through a web press at about 2 to 3000 feet per minute, think about it, that's about 35 miles an hour.
As you can see in this video, the web of paper follows a complex path as it passes through the press. Part of the reason for that complicated path has to do with maintaining the correct tension to keep pulling the paper through the press and ensuring that the paper doesn't tear and stop the job. In addition to offering high-speed and long runs, web presses can perform in-line finishing including folding and assembly of signatures, perforating and even the application of micro-encapsulated substances such as scratch and sniff perfume samples.
If you found a perfume sample in a magazine, chances are it was printed on a web press. In this video you can see the web of paper coming down and being folded in half to start the process of combining signatures into the proper page order for finishing. It may look like some sort of special effect, but when the video was slowed down you can see the speeding paper being guided into the fold. Think of the design and the engineering that goes into creating these huge wonderful machines.
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