Can you tell us a bit about the printing process you go through?
We don’t actually physically make any artwork up, all the artwork it comes to us is supplied and already done, it is more what we do with that art work. So the first things the guys will do here is take that artwork and position it up onto a sheet. So most of the things we do are in a four colour process (CMYK). When we get that artwork in, that will be broken down into those 4 colours. So this department here is basically take that artwork, position it up on a sheet, that’s all broken down into your four colour process and then the blank plates are loaded into the machine and you get one plate per colour.
So when it’s layered on the plate is it a negative of an image or does it laser the actual image?
No so its the actual image, so it’s not reversed or anything but what you’ll see is the plate doesn’t actually come in contact with the paper it goes onto a transfer blanket they call it and that cylinder comes in contact with the paper.
What do you do with the plates afterwards?
So the plates all get recycled, they’re obviously quite valuable because they’re aluminium. So the company that supplies them to us will pick them up and they’ll recycle them to new ones. All the paper we buy is FSC and then we are also accredited by the FSC and they hold what they call the chain of custody so to be able to print the FSC logo you need to be accredited and what they have to do, for instance is if you went into a shop and bought like a card or something that had the FSC logo on there, from the actual number on there you would be able to track that card to the forest it was cut down from. So with the FSC logo we have a record of where we obviously got that from and the people we bought it from have a record of what mill it came from and you can trace that right back down to the tree that it was cut down from. A lot of people often buy recycled paper thinking that is obviously quite environmentally friendly. Years ago you would get that recycled paper, and yeah it might be recycled but it might also come from Brazil so that actual content will come on a boat from Brazil, to like a processing pan, and technically it’s recycled paper but the actual carbon footprint, that in itself is a lot greater so obviously with these being chopped down in Scandinavia they are always replenishing it. You know, they’re not cutting down these forests. So recycled paper really can be a bit misleading. The inks we use here are all vegetable based and all of our electricity is renewable. A lot of people would think of printing as environmentally unfriendly. However all our waste is recycled, we use a lot of eco friendly things. It is not as bad as people sometimes might think it is.
Do you just do litho printing?
We do, do digital printing as well. To be honest it’s like a big photocopier really, it is good because obviously you don’t have the set up cost. So obviously if you wanted one copy you could have that and it would only cost you around 1p. But from then on in it does run quite slowly and the quality is not quite the same. So we are generally more geared up to do the litho. Digital print is good now though you know, when it first come out it was really bad quality and it is catching up a bit but you know there is still a difference between litho quality and digital.
What is the lead time you would get, from the delivery of that artwork, to printing it and sending it back?
I would say, you see that brochure that you’ve seen on the stitch line, say someone wanted 10,000 of them from giving us the artwork to getting it done you’d say probably about a week. Because we’re like the last end of the line you can imagine when things get to us everyone is in a mad desperate rush to get things done. We run probably around 8000 of those big sheets per hour.
Would you say printing is getting more or less popular?
Yeh I’d say less, it has definitely declined yes. It has definitely affected us.
Is everything done here?
There are some things that we don’t actually do here like perfect binding, we often send things of to companies as you know we may only need to do it twice a week where it needs a massive machine, we can’t afford to have it running. So certain things like that we do send out. Embossing for example is something that we don’t actually do here but we would take that on as part of the job itself, we would always finish that and send it off as complete and send it out to different finishers. That is sort of done on a really old style printing press, so you can imagine a printing press, like the way you do potato pressing.
Apple Colour are printing specialists and cover digital and litho printing. They are constantly changing and developing in order to deliver the best printing services to clients. They have many years of experience in the printing industry so can advise on the best requirements for each job. Not only do they offer printing services, but they can also add different finishes including: lamination, varnishing, perfect binding and foiling.