There are several stages of catalogue printing. This starts with compiling the information, images and deciding which products are going on which page is.
Stage two is the catalogue design, the look of your catalogue. This ensures your products are displayed in the best possible way. The third stage is the artwork, this is where all the information is compiled onto pages. The artwork is based on the catalogue design, and this tends to be the most time-consuming part of the whole process. And the final stage is the actual printing process, and this is what we will focus on.
Ensuring you choose the right printer is imperative. There are a great many different types of printers, and these will all have different types of printing presses. It may be possible to print a catalogue on any of these different presses, but the time and cost will vary substantially.
If you’re only printing a relatively small number of catalogues, let’s say 1000 copies or less, you would tend to choose a smaller sheet fed press for this job. It does not matter if the catalogue only has a few pages or many hundreds of pages.
These smaller printing presses may print in sheets that are A3 or A2. The one thing that makes them similar is that they are sheet fed printing presses. This means that the paper that the printing press prints onto is cut into individual sheets. Depending on the size of your catalogue pages you will get several pages on each large, printed sheet. For example, if the printing press uses two sheets you can print eight A4 catalogue pages at a time. This is based on printing both sides of the sheet. These pages are then cut down folded and bound to make the final printed catalogue.
Medium Run Catalogues
Defining what constitutes a medium run catalogue is somewhat open to interpretation. For the purposes of this editorial, let’s say its a 160-page catalogue with a four-page cover and you are looking to print 10,000 copies.
For this type of project, the perfecto printing presses are ideal. These presses tend to print A0 sheets of paper which is slightly over A1 size. This allows you to print 8 double sided pages at a time therefore creating 16 catalogue pages.
These presses also prints both sides of the paper in one pass, saving time and money. Perfecto printing presses usually tend to print onto sheets of paper A0 size as previously mentioned. However, some of these presses can also fit a reel of paper. A reel of paper is where the paper is on a large spindle, like you may have seen on the huge newspaper printing presses.
Run Printing Presses (Web)
Web presses are the largest type of printing presses available. These are huge pieces of machinery and are used for producing long runs of catalogues, which will run into thousands of copies.
Web printing presses, in turn come in different sizes. This is based on the number of pages they can print in one pass. This is based on A4 size sheets. For example, the smallest web presses tend to be 16 pages, in other words they print 16 pages in one pass. There are other size presses that get gradually larger, the main examples of these tend to be 24-page, 36 page, 42 page and 72 page web presses. There may be other versions offering different printed page variations, however, these tend to be the main ones available.
These presses all use reels of paper rather than sheets. Again, these reels are huge roles that are attached to the front of the printing press. In most cases, these reels of paper are manufactured specifically for each job. The paper buyer within the printing company will work out how much paper is required based on the number of pages on the number of copies that are to be printed.
One of the main reasons that these printing presses tend to be the most economical for printing large run catalogues is that they run at very high speeds. If you see one of these web printing presses in action, they are very impressive. The paper flies through the machine from the reels at very fast speeds.
Towards the end of the printing press the paper tends to be cut into ribbons. This is where the paper is cut down from the large size it is manufactured into the individual page size, for example A4. This then continues through the printing machine and passes into a dryer, to which a sealer can then be added to help the drying process and stop the ink smudging, whilst it is being used. This process continues again further as the pages are cut to size and folded. They are then finally compiled at the end, so the pages are in the correct order and then they are bounded.
If the catalogue is less than around 80 pages, it can be possible to staple the pages together or stitch them as it is called in printing. But larger pagination catalogues with many pages will tend to be perfect bound. This is where the pages are glued into the spine, like you see with a paperback book. Another method of catalogue binding is PUR binding. This appears very similar to a perfect bound catalogue, but the difference is the adhesive is stronger, which allows the catalogue to be used more without any pages falling out of the spine or coming apart, as this can, very occasionally, happen with standard perfect bound catalogues.
Gravure presses are not common and tend to be used for very long run magazines and catalogues. The process is very similar to a web press, but the plates that put the ink onto the paper, do so in a different way.
The main things to look at when appointing a printer, is all the types of printing press they use. You then need to look at the specification of the catalogues you are printing for yourselves. The two main things are the number of pages and the number of copies you want to be printed. The combination of these two sets of variables will direct you towards the type of press that will be best, and most economical to produce your catalogue.
For more information on our services, or to discuss your exact requirements with one of our expert design team, feel free to get in touch.