waaaaaw so much paper.
The visit to Zenith today was great – really educational and certainly helpful in seeing how our digital designs end up being pushed through machines and into real life things, whether they’re catalogues, magazines, leaflets or huge building banners. The sheer size of the operation there is overwhelming, and how all of the different parts and people work together under a few roofs to create everything that comes out.
I think the most valuable thing to take from the visit is how important it is to ensure what you’re sending to a printer is the correct format, profile, and properly spell-checked. The man taking us around the factory told us about a job they’d recently had worth £5 million, and noticed a mistake in the company’s phone number right at the very end. Tiny mistakes can cause lengthy delays and cost lots of money.
We were shown how different the printing is on different types of paper, and how these differences can totally alter the finished product if not dealt with right at the very beginning. Seeing the scale of the process and the sheer volume of work going through the printers showed how important it is to get things right initially. What was also useful was seeing how the different laminations are added, but also how much cost these add to the process. Zenith Print Group are able to do every aspect of the printing/laminating/binding process ‘in-house’, so it means they dont have to outsource anything anywhere else, which saves on costs and makes the whole process far more efficient. For me this was great to know because in the future it makes choosing printers an easier process, it can make the job cheaper for your client and more efficient for you as the designer, so it’s worth knowing which designers do what in order to get the best out of everyone.
It was definitely useful to see the process – starting with the proofers and designers, checking files and sending them through to print, to those on the factory floor adding ink to printers and sorting the paper into the machines. The amount of paper was ridiculous, with one printer sending through 18,000 sheets an hour. In the warehouse which was full to the brim with pallets of paper, we were told that this amount would last ‘probably’ the next 48 hours. We did have some questions about the sustainability of the process and company as a whole which were cleared up by an employee. They use FSC approved paper from sustainably sourced forests, planting four new trees for every one used for manufacturing. The inks used are soya based or vegetable mineral based, which was also encouraging, as the environmental impact of an operation this big could be quite drastic.
They did say about interning with them which would definitely be something I’d look at, even if only to get more experience of sending jobs to print.