Notes Regarding May 5, 2012 Field Trip to Frederic Printing
Frederic Printing, located at 38th and Chambers in Aurora, Colorado, has been in business since 1878. About 200 people are employed by the company which is under the parent company of CGX Publishing Solutions. Frederic Printing prints just about everything that could be printed–books, maps, brochures, direct mailings and, yes, folks, even foreclosures. Due to the private nature of some of the printing, a few rooms are off-limits to the casual observer.
Pen Women Virginia Small, Marie Kriss, Florence Elliott and Kelly Ann Compton participated in an amazing tour of Frederic Printing led by Peter Vandevanter. While they got to see many rooms of printing presses, cutters, laminators and other machines during their two hour venture, the highlight was the new Hewlett-Packard T300 web-fed, inkjet press. What an amazing press! Peter shared that the HP T300, of which there are currently only two in existence, will eventually change the face of printing making it possible for a full-color glossy book to be printed for the same cost and at the same speed as a black-and-white book! Another great feature is that a single book can have many looks printed at the same time allowing for individuality in each copy.
Before the tour began, Peter explained how printing presses have changed over the years. Pre-2006, digital presses were primarily sheet-fed, meaning one sheet of paper at a time was fed into the machine. Post-2006, the presses were web-fed which made printing much faster and Print On Demand printing possible. Web-fed means the paper is on a long, continuous roll which, after printing, is cut into the needed sizes. Color printing has always been more expensive than black-and-white printing because mixing the basic colors of printing–cyan, magenta, black and yellow–to get every other color had to be done in layers and in doing so, the colors would smear because they couldn’t dry fast enough making color printing a much more labor intensive process. Both Kodak and Hewlett Packard searched for answers to solve these issues. In 2010 it was Hewlett Packard that came through with its T300 web fed, inkjet press. The HP T300 has the usual four inkjet colors mentioned above alongside additional fifth white inkjet heads that shoot, pixel for pixel of color, an ink bonding agent that dries the colors allowing for faster printing. The paper starts off on a large roll, as it moves through the arc of inkjet heads, receiving the colors and bonding agent. The paper, which is dampened here in Denver because of our dry climate, then goes through a middle machine that turns the paper over readying it to go through a second press to print the other side. The result is water-resistant, incredibly sharp color and black-and-white images at a lower price and faster speed.
During the tour, questions and answers came swiftly. The question of the day came from Kriss regarding the fact that paper is identified in terms of ‘pounds.’ What exactly did it mean if paper was 20 pound or 50 pound? The exact definition remained unknown until Virginia and Kelly Ann ‘Googled’ it after the tour. From two different web sites (Paper Density from Wikipedia and About dot com, Basis Weight, they learned a great deal. A very simple explanation of 20 pound bond paper, the type used in laser printers and copy machines, is that 500 sheets of 17” x 22” bond paper weighs in at 20 pounds. Usually, we buy this paper in reams of 500 sheets measuring 8 1/2” x 11”. The web sites, especially the first one, go into greater detail explaining the ‘pound’ question. The second web site states things in an easier-to-understand manner.
The field trip was definitely worthwhile and interesting. Excitement abounds in the field of printing, especially at Frederic Printing!
Kelly Ann Compton
Secretary, NLAPW-Denver Branch