I had the opportunity of visit a print site, somewhere in the deepest darkest most inequitable parts of east london. I was living the real life “how its made”, sadly without the music.
The paper is delivered to the printers as a PDF. This file is split up into the 4 constituent colours: Black, Cyan, Magenta and Yellow. Each colour is then Lasered onto a sheet of aluminium:
The blue colour is the light sensitive ink which is washed off to reveal a positive image:
This plate is formed into half a cylinder and paired with another page. There are high precision holes in the aluminium to allow minute adjustments. As this is an offset print process, the ink is applied to the plate, the plate then transfers it to a rubber cylinder, which in turn smears the image onto the paper.
The plates are installed into a machine called a stack:
Making sure that the colours are aligned, and the right amount of ink is applied is a highly skilled job. Every time a new page is printed, the plates must be aligned, and colours adjusted. This can eat through a lot of paper. Each print stack is controlled by a console like this:
the paper is fed into the print stack from massive 750kg toilet rolls:
Once the printed paper has escaped the print stack, it needs to be cut and folded: (this is an extraordinary cool machine, but I couldn’t get a decent picture)
The finished sections are rolled up and stored ready for combining into the finished newspaper: