Print Production Process Explained

The print process will vary from job to job depending on the publication specification and quantity so always make sure you speak to you print accounts manager about each individual job. This is extremely important as you never know how busy your printers presses will be, presses are not just sat around waiting for print to jump on to them. The physical production turn around might be 5 days but there could be a 2 day wait to get your job onto the press in the first place.

The typical Printers websites or marketing will always show a standard turnaround time, this is most commonly 5-7 working days or 7-10 working days. Firstly note these are working days so you always need to find out what this means to your printer, if it’s Monday to Friday or includes weekends etc. Secondly these are just rough guidelines so if your printer states 5-7 working days it doesn’t necessarily mean your job will be turn around in this amount of time. Your publication might have a finishing on it that takes extra time or be a particularly high volume job.

Just to show that with print you don’t simply press button and everything just happens here is a basic overview of how your magazine is produced.

Pre Press Stage: Pre Press is the terminology used for the process that happens from receiving your artwork until it goes on to the press.

  1. Once the job has been confirmed as live and we receive print ready files we will then contact our paper merchants to order in the necessary paper for the job. Depending on when the order is placed the paper is usually received same day as the merchants make multiple drops every day.
  2. The next step is the Print Plates are made up. These are essentially stencils made that tells the press what colours to lay down where on the page that create the printed images and text. Depending on the size of the magazine this process can take up to half a day.

Production Stage:

  1. The next stage is the main event, this is when the magic happens and the ink goes on to paper. Depending on the size of the magazine this could take anything from a couple of hours to a couple of days.
  2. Once the sheets have been printed they are then left until the ink is completely dried. This stage is extremely important as rushing the drying process can cause smudging and cracking when the magazine is being finished. Depending on this ink coverage this can take up to 12 hours.
  3. Now the printed sheets are completely dry they are then cut down to their final flat size. Depending on the pagination and the quantity of magazines being produced this can take up to and over 6 hours.
  4. Once the printed sheets have been cut down to their flat size they are now put on to a collator to collate all the sheets in to page order, the magazine is now starting to take shape. Another 1 to 6+ hours can be spent collating the materials.
  5. The printed sheets are now ready to be bound, in most cases magazines are usually perfect bound (glued at the spine) or stitched (stapled). Stapling is a slightly quicker process but if you have chosen to go down the perfect bound route there is now the whole process of the glue having to dry. Depending on the thickness of the magazine this can take anything from half a day onwards, ideally printers like to leave the glue to dry over night before moving them to ensure the highest quality finish.
  6. Now your lovely magazine are all printed and finished they are now packaged and boxed ready for collection, delivery or distribution.
  7. Finally the last stage, if you are not collecting the magazines it will now be organised for them to be collected by a courier service and delivered to the specified destination. Depending on the package requested this can range from same day delivery, next day delivery and so on.

Hopefully now you can see all the difference stages and times lines you can start to understand that print is a massively variable process. Any one of these stages could get held up or take slightly longer than it should do this is very it is so important to always talk to your accounts manager and calculate a production schedule. The more you can communicate to the printed the more likely you are to have a really smooth and stress free magazine production.

If you have any questions with regards to this then please do not hesitate to drop us a call or email within office working hours.


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