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Printing Your Book

This article and page are undergoing construction so is in its raw state. New information will be added on a regular basis until its completion and then it will be proofread by Proofreadnz and on their recommendations I will tidy up my article. Check back to watch the article's development and ascertain more valuable information.

Update: The first part of my article has been proofread although changes may still need to be made if I've missed anything.

On this page I would like to discuss in detail the differences between digital and offset printing.

Having children in the printing industry has been an enormous help to me in acquiring information on the subject.

Let's start off with digital printing:

Digital printing has, among its advantages, that your file can be sent directly to the digital printer, usually a laser printer. There is another type of digital printer which I will talk about shortly. Digital printing eliminates the costs of having film and plates made and the information on your files can easily be changed between print runs. It is the most cost-effective way to go for short runs although do ring around for the best pricing. The difference in pricing from one printing company to the next can amount to savings of hundreds of dollars.

Laser printers use toner. Toner is sometimes referred to as dried ink powder but essentially it is an electrically-charged powder that has two main ingredients: pigment which provides the colouring, and plastic or wax which melts when it passes through the fuser's heat. For an in depth look at how a laser printer works, check out How Stuff Works. Toner unlike liquid ink stays on top of the paper so it can lack the smooth consistency of liquid ink which is absorbed into the paper. Also, because fuser oil is used in the bonding of the toner, issues with cohesion can arise when laminating. Some of the newer models of laser printers do not use fuser oil.

There are a variety of different laser printers, so the colours on your file's image can vary from one printer to the next. Although coloured laser printers can use up to four colours CYMK; C=cyan (blue), Y=yellow, M=magenta, K=black, the colours can be set differently from one printing company to the next. It is a good idea to have at least one, if not more, of your coloured files printed out so you can see if you need to make any adjustments to the colour. If you find your files need adjusting and you don't have the know-how to do it, speak to the person who is printing your work as most companies will be able to make the adjustments for you. Alternatively, if you have used your own graphics designer, he/she may be able to make the adjustments for you.

With good quality laser printing, most people would not know that your book hasn't been offset printed unless things are pointed out to them. Text-only books are harder to differentiate between offset printing and laser printing. It is easier to pick the difference where there are colour illustrations and/or pages. When the pages are held into the light you may notice with digital laser printing lines going through the image and darker colours having more shine to them; whereas with offset printing, the colour is more consistent and smoother.

I've recently learnt about another type of digital printing where the digital press uses liquid ink as in offset printing and is comparable to offset printing. I couldn't tell the difference between the two but again those in the printing industry may be able to spot the difference. The digital press is called the HP Indigo 3050. It can use up to seven colours as it comes with optional five, six, or seven inking stations. It uses the CYMK standard colours but can also do silver or pre-mixed special colours which can then be loaded into the extra ink tanks. It uses HP Indichrome Technology.

I would like to thank Simon Taylor, prepress manager of Soar Printing Co. Ltd, for showing me the HP Indigo 3050 digital press, and explaining to me how it works and also for showing me around the company so that I could get a better understanding of offset printing.

Another company that uses the HP Indigo 3050 digital press and offers very competitive pricing is ezyPrint Solutions.

The more print-ready your files are, the cheaper the costs.

Tip: If you are designing an image with a large area of one colour, ask the printers which colours print out best. This could avoid possible disappointment later.

The New Zealand distributor for the Hp Indigo 3050 is AM International Limited. They sell and service the HP Indigo presses. Contacts for their branch offices are as follows:

Auckland - Gavin Joyce - 09 415 6868
Wellington - Troy Wood - 04 568 3099
Christchurch - Mathew Baker - 03 3044 3072

Now lets talk about offset printing: To be added shortly.

© Shirley Todd, 2005

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