Join Claudia McCue for an in-depth discussion in this video Life in the pressroom, part of Print Production Essentials: Prepress and Press Checks.
If you've never been in a printing pressroom when a job is running, you might be wondering what you ought to expect. Well, there's a lot of action in a pressroom. There's a lot of heavy equipment and that's not just the press. You're going to find that there's a lot of pressroom floor traffic. They're going to be moving paper into place to be printed. Once it's printed they are going to move that printed piece off into another section for storage. The pressmen are going to be very busy setting up the press before the run and maintaining it throughout the run. So be considerate of those very busy pressroom personnel. And be prepared for the fact that it's a fairly noisy environment. And be very safety-minded.
Printing is a very high precision process. There are a lot of complex mechanical components to printing a job. Now, modern press controls do make it easier and faster to perform something called makeready, and that's getting the press up to speed, getting the ink coverage up to specs, and getting that job ready for the live run. And this requires constant monitoring by skilled pressmen, not just during that setup part of the process, but throughout the life of the print run. Now those sophisticated press controls do ensure consistency.
So let's take at how the pressman determines that the job is running as it should. Here, the pressman is bringing a freshly-printed sheet off the press into the examination area under those carefully controlled 5000K lights. And he's using a handheld device to read the ink coverage in certain spots. He looks like he's typing. What he's really doing is changing the settings on what are called ink keys, and those change the way ink is applied on the press. And he's doing this to ensure he has a consistent run, and he's meeting the specs for the job. Here on a newer press, the pressman's pulling, again, a freshly printed sheet, and he's taking it over to the examination area, again under those standard 5000 K lights.
And the table that he's placing it on actually has little tiny pinholes in it and there's a vacuum pump. And what this is going to do is draw that sheet down on the table so that it's good and flat so that he can get a good consistent reading. And you'll see that curl start to go away and then the automated arm moves across. That's reading those little tiny color bars up at the edge of the sheet. Taking those values and sending them back to the press, and it's auto-correcting. Instead of him having to manually change those ink keys, the press controls can do that for him. Despite all these automated controls, all this sophisticated technology, what really counts is the craftsman's talents.
The pressman's knowledge from years of experience is priceless. His experience guides him in his control of the press. And remember that printing, being a complex physical process, requires constant monitoring. And something really important to remember, it isn't just manufacturing. Printing always has been, and always will be a craft.
- Submitting your job
- Preflighting files
- Understanding press-check etiquette
- Checking press sheets