The Printing Process
1. After final proofs were approved first thing yesterday morning, an aluminum plate of the map was made for the offset lithographic printing process. (This technique originally started in the 1700s on limestone plates!)
2. The morning of printing, our sheets of paper were cut from 300+ pound rolls that came straight from the paper factory. We actually have two different types of paper for the map — a thinner sheet for our folded maps and a thicker cover stock for the posters.
3. Custom inks are mixed and tested on a device that simulates the offset lithographic process and a series of presses are set up with each ink and our final paper coating.
4. A printing technician adjusts the colors and ink weight to match the proof we approved. To do this, the press sheet goes on a special table for colors to be scanned, read and computed. There are other checks in place using different devices to test the alignment, bleed of the ink, etc. to insure that everything is in the correct place once the maps are trimmed and folded.
5. Adjustments are made and the press runs until the ink levels are constant, creating a consistent look.
6. The map comes out as a double sheet, so once half the run has gone through, the paper is flipped and is printed on the back side.
7. After the ink has cured, the maps move into the trimmer, cutting them down into two separate sheets each, and trimming off the edges.
8. The maps then move into the folder, which has been set up especially for our number and series of folds. This map has both accordion folds and a final roll fold. It moves through a different mechanism of the folder to create each fold.
9. The maps are grouped and bound with paper bands into sets. Meredith-Webb makes custom boxes to hold the folded maps and flat poster sheets. There is a machine for everything!
10. We borrow a truck and drive it to Meredith Webb where a pallet of maps is lowered from an opening in the floor to the truck bed in the loading dock underneath.
11. We spend hours hauling in box upon box of maps and stacking them up for storage until they ship out.