The Power of the Printer

During my time here at Bravo I have started to understand that there is more to great print design besides the design itself. This became clearer after I had the opportunity to take a “field trip” to a local print shop. During this trip I was able to learn about the printing process and the best way to prepare your files for production while also having some fun.

One of the main benefits of this trip for me was learning about different types of printing and what projects they are best used for. We visited Graphtech in Harrisburg, where they have the equipment to do three different types of printing.

    1. Offset: This is the printing process where an inked image is transferred from a plate to a rubber blanket, then to paper and prints from one to five colors. This type of printing works best for business cards, letterhead, flyers, brochures, calendars, invitations, etc.
    2. Digital: These printers look like an oversize copier. The main difference between digital and offset is that digital doesn’t use plates. This makes it very easy to personalize your designs from piece to piece and saves you time and money. For example, if you are designing a mailing this printer can change the image for each mailing.
    3. Wide Format: Wide format printing is digital printing on a bigger scale. This type of printer allows you to make banners, large posters and even sized presentation checks.

I also learned a lot about the prepress process and the importance of properly setting up your files before sending them to the printer. For example, always send your work in a PDF and make sure all of your colors and images are in CMYK. CMYK refers to the four inks used in printing: cyan, magenta, yellow and black. These four colors are mixed in different variations to create all of the colors you want to use in your design.

While it is important for designers to know this information it is also important information creative or public relations professionals. Knowing what your options are can help you communicate with the designers and even clients in a knowledgeable fashion. Understanding the different types of printing will allow you to give clients a better idea of how long the project will take to be printed and how much it will cost.

My intern field trip taught me all of this and also exposed me to how cool an industrial paper cutter is, (if you haven’t watched one before you should do so immediately). The one thing I took away from the trip is that while it is important to have a great design, it’s just as important that the printer turns that design into a reality, or in this case a hardcopy.

Courtney Garloff, Bravo Group Creative Intern-Harrisburg Office

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