The World of Print Services

Image courtesy of Texas A&M University-Commerce Marketing Communications' photostream

Image courtesy of Texas A&M University-Commerce Marketing Communications’ photostream

Just a few days ago, I had the opportunity to visit one of our printing facilities. This location specializes in print services including commercial print, digital print, online print, cut sheets and business forms. The print world is a very detailed oriented, spec specific genre of marketing and if you’re not fully engrossed in this stuff on a day to day basis, there is a pretty good chance you have no idea what a saddle stich is. Don’t worry, neither did I… until I toured the facility.

To say the least, my tour was a pretty humbling experience. It was amazing to see how much effort goes into printing a piece of paper. The equipment used, which by the way is HUGE, requires full-time supervision with an eye for perfection. The printers are continuously checking for consistencies in the color, registration and cut of the printed projects they work on. The orders are as small as 100 instructions booklets to as big as 20,000 sheets of business forms.  

There are two main types of print services that this warehouse specializes in; press printing for those larger commercial jobs, and digital print. The difference between the two is staggering and some think that includes the quality factor as well. The press printers are the big boys; able to produce thousands of pieces in a matter of a couple hours. Real ink flows through the machine, while metal plates with code, imprint the images on the paper; a truly amazing thing to watch. It is also a bit tedious, with many steps, multiple machines and lots of hands on deck. Digital print is a little simpler. Basically the biggest computer printer you’ve ever seen, well… prints. The file is uploaded to the printer via computer and out it comes. There are limitations to the amount of printed pieces that digital can handle and they do use toners just like your printer at home. But compared to its big brother press, the efficiency of digital print is night and day.

The print world is a fascinating combination of technology and blue-collar precision and work. So the next time you open the instruction booklet that comes with your new sweeper or the swing set for the backyard, think twice about the amount of technology, precision and labor have gone into that single print piece.

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