AMICA offers offset sheet fed printing it is the highest quality printing process in the industry. The process produces prints with rich, smooth solids without the streaking found in lesser quality prints. Actual inks are used, not toner. The look and feel of any offset product comes across as more professional.
Technologies and Production Methods
There are a wide variety of technologies that are used to print books and the main industrial printing process is offset lithography.
Lithography literally means “stone-writing,” a method of printing from the surface of stones that was invented in 1798 by German actor and playwright Alois Senefelder. He took a large stone and drew a design on it with a wax crayon. Then he dipped the stone in water so the parts of the stone not covered in crayon became wet. Next, he dipped the design in ink, so the ink stuck only to the waxed parts of the stone and not the wet parts. So now he had an inked “printed plate” (or printing stone, if you prefer) that he could press against paper to make a copy. Lithography avoids the need to make a traditional printing plate, as you need for both relief and gravure printing.
Modern offset lithography printing presses use an updated version of the same basic idea in which the stone is replaced with a thin metal printing plate. First, the image to be printed is transferred photographically to the plate. In offset lithography a printing plate, which is most often made from aluminum, contains an image of the content that needs to be printed.
The parts of the plate from which the image is printed are coated with lacquer (clear varnish), so they attract ink, while the rest of the plate is coated with gum, so it attracts water. When the plate is inked, only this image part holds ink. That inked image is subsequently transferred (or offset) from the plate to a rubber blanket and then to the printing surface.
The metal plates are curved around a printing cylinder and press against a series of rollers, which dampen them with water and then brush them with ink. Only the lacquered parts of the plate (those that will print) pick up ink. The inked plate presses against a soft rubber (offset) cylinder, known as the blanket cylinder, and transfers its image across. The blanket cylinder then presses against the paper and makes the final print. High-speed offset lithography presses are web-fed (from paper cylinders) and can produce something like 20km (~12 miles) of printed material in an hour! The process can be used to print on paper, cardboard, plastic or other materials, but these have to have a flat surface.
Technology of pricing
AMICA has two, and only two, components that go into a printing price. These two components are “setup” and “run”. There’s an old saying that the first book is very expensive but they get real cheap after that. The lower the setup cost, the lower the quantity which can be produced cost-effectively.
Setup consists of prep, proof, plates, press make-ready, paper make-ready and bindery make-ready.
Run consists of press run, paper run and bindery run. These numbers are from actual printing companies but are only intended to be used as a guide.
AMICA uses offset printing for the majority of our books produced today. Sheet-fed offset book printing offers the best quality reproduction of artwork and photography, and is the most flexible when it comes to the number of sizes offered for books and the different kinds of paper available for printing.
Sheet-Fed Printing Technology
AMICA uses sheet-fed lithographic presses they are the work horses of high quality book printing manufacturers. They are made ready quickly with little waste and reached top speed in a minute or two. Some even perfected the sheet, meaning it printed both sides of the sheet in one pass through the press.
Sheet-fed presses print paper one sheet at a time and deliver printed flat sheets ready for folding or finishing. Some feed paper directly from skids, and some have a roll sheeter that cuts custom size sheets from rolls as the press runs (roll paper runs 10 – 20% less than sheets.)
AMICA prides itself on using the best technology, our modern sheet-fed text presses run almost twice as fast as presses 25 years ago. Today, speeds of 12,000 sheets per hour are common even on perfecting presses (24,000 impressions per hour perfecting).