I owe an enormous thank you to the staff at Newquest Hampshire who were so nice to me today. Especially to Martin and Richard who toured me around the print hall this afternoon, and put up with my inane excitable noises and gasps every time we turned a corner. I was able to get some lovely photographs of the web offset presses in action, for my book.
These massive tanks are full of INK!
The ink is carried to the presses in the big coloured pipes, which just looks really cool... reminds me of something from Willy Wonka's factory. I really wanted one to burst....(the next bravia ad right there?)
The images are put onto aluminium plates, there are four plates for every page so the image is separated out into cyan, yellow, magenta and black. Then these are inked up and printed onto the gigantic rolls of news print. They are then folded and cut:
and transported through the building on a conveyer belt system like this:
And then they end up stacked and wrapped on palettes, ready to be delivered.
It was really interesting to see how print works on a massive industrial scale. All the waste from all the Newsquest print centres across the country is recycled including the aluminium plates.
The newsprint they print onto is 100% recycled, theres no virgin pulp at all. Despite this it was quite scary to see that before the men calibrating the registration of the print can give the word to start printing at full speed, the press is running for about 20 minutes (albeit on slow speed) printing hundreds, possibly thousands of copies which go straight off the press into the recycling.
I was also shown the printing schedule for the presses – one from 2004, which was completely choc-a-bloc, 24/7 and included many national papers, but on the one for December 2009, the print run only spans just over 3 days, consisting of local papers and advert papers. I was told that there had been quite a few redundancies recently.
The amount of technology that has been developed for the papers to be printed as fast and as efficiently as they are, is really quite incredible. It would be a shame if it was no longer required.