From Pixels to Paper: The Fascinating Journey of Your Print Job

From Pixels to Paper: The Fascinating Journey of Your Print Job

Ever wondered how your digital designs transform into those eye-catching brochures, magazines, and business cards in your hands? The journey of a print job is a fascinating one, filled with high-tech tools and meticulous human expertise. Let’s delve into the key stages of this transformation:

Stage 1: Prepping for Print (Prepress)

Girl working of a graphic design job
Jordan from our design studio putting the finishing touches to her design.

Design and File Creation: The magic begins with your vision! Graphic designers weave text, images, and branding elements using powerful software like InDesign, Photoshop, or Illustrator.
Proofreading: A keen eye is crucial! Meticulous proofreading ensures your design is flawless, free from typos, grammatical errors, and visual inconsistencies.
File Conversion and Optimisation: Getting ready for the press! Files are converted to compatible formats, fonts are outlined, and high-resolution images are prepped to ensure stunning results.
Color Management: Accuracy is key! Colour profiles guarantee your desired hues translate flawlessly from digital to different paper types.
Platemaking: Depending on the chosen printing method (offset, digital, etc.), printing plates are produced. These hold the ink-transferring areas, ready to bring your design to life.

Stage 2: Putting Ink to Paper (Press)

Offset Printing

Press Setup and Calibration: Precision matters! The printing press undergoes meticulous calibration using ink volume settings for consistent ink flow, paper feeding, and colour registration.
Printing: The moment of truth! Plates are loaded onto the press, paper sheets are fed through, and vibrant ink dances onto the surface, transforming your digital creation into a tangible reality.
Quality Control: Every detail counts! Trained professionals monitor ink levels, colour accuracy, and paper feeding throughout the process, ensuring the highest quality standards for your print job.

Stage 3: Finishing Touches (Postpress)

Kev setting up the saddle stitcher to finish a booklet

Folding and Trimming: Taking shape! Printed sheets are folded, trimmed, and collated into their final form. Brochures get their signature folds, while books undergo intricate binding and page assembly.
Binding and Finishing: Adding the finishing touches! Your print job might receive special effects like die-cutting, embossing, lamination, or UV coating for extra visual appeal and durability.
Inspection and Packing: Ready for the world! A final thorough inspection ensures your print job is flawless. Once approved, your creations are carefully packed and prepared for delivery.

Female looking at Window Payne Flyer

So, the next time you admire a beautifully printed design, remember the fascinating journey it took to get there. From meticulous digital set-up to high-tech printing and expert finishing, the printing process is a testament to human ingenuity and technological prowess. It’s a journey that transforms pixels into paper, ideas into reality, and your vision into a tangible masterpiece to hold and cherish.

The Environmental Impact of Print

The Environmental Impact of Print

A national climate emergency has been declared by the UK Parliament and we all must take responsibility to take action help this situation. At Corsham Print the environmental impact of print is top of our agenda.

Printing as an industry has, for a long time, had a stigma surrounding it when looking at its environmental impacts. However, not many people know but the print and paper industry has been working for decades to protect the environment. 

  • Vegetable oil based inks
  • Low energy production
  • Certification of paper
  • Carbon capture

Despite these initiatives there are still many myths about print and paper that cause major issues within the industry. Misconceptions are further reinforced by financial organisations, utility companies, and many other service providers. This is because they are increasingly encouraging their customers to switch to paperless bills and statements.

We have put the following information together with the help of ‘Two Sides’. An initiative to promote the sustainability of the graphic communications and dispel common environmental misconceptions. Providing users with verifiable information on the environmental impact of print and why print and paper is an attractive, practical and sustainable communications medium.

Myth: European forests are shrinking

Fact: On average, European forests have been growing by over 1,500 football pitches every day.

Paper is a uniquely-renewable and sustainable product. The main raw material, trees, are grown and harvested in a carefully controlled and sustainable way – so successfully that European forests, where most of the raw material comes from, have grown by an area the size of Switzerland in just 10 years. This means that between 2005 and 2015, European forests grew by 44,000 square kilometres, which averages 1,500 football pitches per day.

Myth: Planted forests are bad for the environment.

Fact: Well managed planted forests reduce the amount of pressure on natural forests and can provide many other environmental benefits.

Forests are essential for the transition to the green economy. Well managed planted forests are a vital element in the global forestry mix. Natural forest accounts for 93% of world’s forest area with planted forest occupying 7%, or 290 million hectares. In Europe, planet forests are not replacing natural forests. They provide many benefits, such as: providing new recreational facilities, preventing soil degradation and erosion, and providing new habitat shelter for wildlife.

Myth: Paper is bad for the environment.

Fact: Paper is one of the few truly sustainable products.

Paper is based on wood, a natural and renewable material. As young trees grow they absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. Furthermore, as a wood product, paper continues storing carbon throughout its lifetime. The paper industry has several respected certification schemes ensuring the paper you use has come from a sustainable forest source. The two most recognisable certifications are the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).

Myth: Paper production is a major cause of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Fact: Most of the energy used is renewable and carbon intensity is surprisingly low.

The European pulp and paper industry produces original bio-based products using wood, a renewable material. It is also the biggest single industrial user and producer of renewable energy in the EU: 60% of the industry’s total fuels consumption is biomass-based. And the industry has the potential to do even more in the future. It has the experience, technology and supply chain to play a big part in the bio-economy and to do so in a resource efficient manner.

Myth: Electronic communication is more environmentally friendly than paper-based communication.

Fact: Electronic communication also has environmental impacts.

“Go Paperless”, “Go Green” and “Save Trees” are common messages seen these days as many organisations encourage their customers to switch to electronic transactions and communications. But are these appeals based on fact?

Paper is a uniquely renewable and sustainable product. The main raw material, wood, is grown and harvested in a carefully controlled and sustainable way. Furthermore the environmental impacts of our ever-increasing digital world cannot be ignored. The ICT industry accounts for around 2.5-3% of global greenhouse gas emissions and this is predicted to rise to 14% by 2040.

Corsham Print Environmental Initiatives

We run a state-of-the-art LED drying offset press. Drying ink with LED lights rather than the old conventional UV systems has reduced power consumption by between 88-91%.

We are a member of an FSC® Certified Group FSC-C004309 and we only print on FSC-certified paper.

Our retail stationery outlet has introduced a wide range of environmentally friendly products including Woodland Trust papers.

We are part of Premier Paper and The Woodland Trust’s Carbon Capture Program.

Click below to download an interesting read produced by ‘Two Sides’

Some useful links on the environmental impact of print:

What are the different Printing Processes?

What are the different Printing Processes?

  1. Offset Lithograph

  2. Digital Printing

  3. Large Format Printing

It’s a cloudy Sunday morning. After all the dilemmas of preparing artwork, choosing both a paper size and weight you finally have a chance to relax. This has been a long and arduous journey. But finally, you see the light at the end of the tunnel. To your knowledge everything has been decided, your magnum opus is in the capable hands of the printer.

An alert. You have another email. Panic sets in, however on opening it you see that it’s just a summary of your print job. Relief washes over you. The worst is over.

But what is this, the printer has asked you how would you like you job printed, ‘digital, litho, large format, inkjet?’ You’re confused, surely it’s just printed on a printer? What are all these mysterious choices to be made, and should they be feared or have reverence paid to them?

We hope these descriptions will help you understand what the hell they are on about:

Offset Lithography

Also known as offset printing or litho, offset lithography is a very popular method of mass-production printing. It involves printing plates, usually made from aluminium, which each hold an image of what needs to be printed. The image is put on the printing plates using a photomechanical or photochemical process during a stage of production known as prepress. One plate is made for each colour ink to be printed.

The plates are attached to cylinders on the printing press. Working on the principle that water and ink don’t mix the plate is rotated over damping rollers (water) and ink rollers (ink). The non image areas on the plate attracted the water and image areas of the plate attract ink. That inked image is subsequently transferred first from the plate to a rubber blanket and then to the printing surface, hence the term offset.

A print job that prints only in black ink requires only one plate. A print job that prints in red and black ink requires two plates. The more plates that are needed to print a job, the higher the price.

When coloured printing is required the coloured images are split in Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (CMYK). A set of four plates is need running on four separate cylinders in the printing press.

In some cases, there may be more than four plates. If a logo must appear in a certain Pantone colour, for example, or if a metallic ink is used in addition to full-colour images.

Offset printing has a high set up cost, prepress time, plates and making ready the press. But once the press is running it has a very low unit cost, making it the most cost effective solution for quanities of 500 or more.

Digital Print

Digital printing is a method that covers a variety of different techniques including inkjet printing and laser. In digital printing, images are sent directly to the printer using digital files. A RIP (Raster Image Processor) converts the digital image into a language the digital printer can understand. This eliminates the need for a printing plate and can save time and money (unless you’re printing in larger quantities).

Most production digital printers use laser technology, similar to a photocopier. The image that needs to be printed is formed by selectively applying a charge to a metal cylinder called a drum. The electrical charge is used to attract toner particles. These particles are transferred to the media that is being printed on. To make sure the toner is fixed properly, the substrate passes through a fuser that melts the toner into the medium.

Digital printing allows for quick turnaround and allows businesses to print on demand. It’s also great for small run jobs, requests can be made for as little as one print. If you choose digital printing for the right job, it can make for a very cost-effective soloution that still produces high quality prints.

Large Format Printing

As the name might suggest, large format printing exists to produce maximum print roll width. Perfect for traditional advertising mediums and businesses who are looking to make a huge impact on their customers, this printing method gives you with a much bigger area to work on, as opposed to the other methods such as digital printing.
Rather than printing onto individual sheets, large format printing uses rolls of prints that are fed incrementally to produce one large sheet. Large format printing is the best option for large print media such as building wraps, billboards, banners, and murals.

Most large format printer uses inkjet technology, small droplets of ink that are propelled from the nozzles of one or more print heads. Inkjet devices can print on a wide range of substrates such as paper, plastic, canvas or even doors and floor tiles.

There are numerous other technologies and new ones being introduced all the time for printing on a multitude of substrates.