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Press Setup

How is an offset printing press set up?

PrintNinja’s custom printing includes a detailed setup to achieve the best results in creating your book, calendar, comic, or other product. For your general knowledge and convenience, each step in printing your custom project is detailed below.

Cleaning the Press

First things first, the press must be cleaned from its last use. On a traditional offset press, all printing plates must be uninstalled, and in the case of a digital offset printer, the printing image plate is cleaned with imaging oil. In a traditional offset press, all cylinders, fountains and rollers are cleaned after every press run to ensure the next parent sheet has a fresh setup. It is important these three pieces are clean so the alignment is not thrown off by dirt. Digital offset printers, while less sensitive, have daily, weekly, and monthly maintenance schedules to ensure printing remains consistent and of the highest quality.

Offset Press Setup Cleaning Ink Fountain

Installing the Plates

Four plates are clamped onto cylinders inside the press. One plate is used for each color: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK). Each time a new parent sheet needs printing, four new plates must be mounted into the press. The cost and time involved in these installations is what makes offset printing impractical for small runs.

Calibrating the Press

The press operator adjusts the press’ output using calibration software. The press operator will adjust the color control using levels, curves, and other tools to produce the right color density. Paper thickness and coating are calculated in the software, with the absorption of ink taken into account.

The press runs at a slow speed so the initial sheets can be carefully checked for alignment and color against the press operator’s proof. The operator can then make adjustments to the press as needed. Once there is a proper amount of ink density on the paper, the press speed is increased to full production.

Offset Press Setup Printed Sheet and Proof

Ready to get started?

PrintNinja can print books, playing cards, board games, calendars, puzzles, and more. Whether you’re ready to print or just starting to budget your project, it’s always a great time to check out our instant price calculator. You can even lock in your price for 90 days!

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