July 16, 2019

Have you ever wondered what process your high-quality printed marketing collateral goes through, before it arrives at your office? Well, wonder no more!

The new enquiry – When a new job request comes in to the inbox, it is ‘jumped on’ straight away by the sales and client service teams. An estimate is drawn up and sent over to the prospect for review. This estimate is then put on the schedule for the production team, with a potential deadline, so that everyone is aware of it and time is reserved to produce the job. Once the customer accepts the estimate and sends their artwork, the commercial print is then scheduled into production and delivery dates are confirmed. Part of this estimate is deciding if the job will be printed digitally or on the lithographic presses. This is decided by providing the best value for money. Aspects such as quantity, dimensions, and ink type can influence this.

Prepress – The prepress team impose (lay out) and preflight (check) the job; to ensure correct formatting, fonts, bleed, page count, and image quality. A hard or soft proof (depending on prior agreements) are then sent to the client for final sign off. Any issues arising from the preflight are also flagged to the customer at this point, for any adjustments to be made.

At this point the client services team would approve the work on the schedule and final deadlines and delivery dates are put into place. Paper and any speciality inks are then ordered – if they are not already in stock. Delivery times of supplies are very fast, often arriving same day. Any additional finishing requirements are also booked in – for example a spot UV.

The job then goes into production on either the digital or litho presses.


Setting up the job – The job is passed to the print production team, where it is imposed to fit as efficiently as possible on the paper stock – to decrease any potential wastage. The imposed PDF is then copied across the network, to the top of the range HP Indigo Press. The press operator reads through the job’s details, such as paper type and quantity, and then sets up the printer accordingly.

Production – The printed sheets come out of the press at a rate of 1,000 sheets per hour. Once the job has finished, it goes onto the binding stage.
As this process is digital, there is no cleaning up or waste to dispose of. The press operator is free to start their next job straight away.


Setting up the job – The prepress team takes the client’s file and imposes it to ‘standard folding patterns,’ whilst maintaining economy on the sheet. Therefore, making full use of the paper stock and avoiding waste. This also ensures a smooth layout for production, avoiding any potential mishaps.

Making the printing plates – To print on a lithographic press, printing plates need to be made. These plates are made in-house at Newnorth; once the prepress team are happy with the job’s quality. The plates are created using lasers. Coatings are applied to the aluminium plates which react with the heat from the lasers, hardening areas of the top coating. Once the plates go through this process (using a machine) they are bathed in chemicals which wash away the soft area (that hasn’t been touched by the lasers). This process only takes a couple of minutes. There is one plate made up for each colour, of the four-colour job, for each section of the print work. One plate can fit eight A4 pages or 16 A5 pages on.

Once the soft area has been washed away, the plates progress into another machine. Here the hardened areas attract the oil-based ink. The chemistry within this press washes away the ink from the non-print areas.

Printing – Utilising the newly created plates, the print job now goes through the state-of-the-art Heidelberg presses. A sheet is selected by the print operator, after every 1,000, to ensure it is remaining high quality. This is then signed off, before checking again a little later during the job.

Finishing (both digital and litho) – Once the job has been printed it is left to dry. Depending on the ink type and stock material used, this process can take up to 48 hours – for an uncoated stock, for example. Once the collateral is dry, it is then sent for any required finishing – either in-house or with a Newnorth partner – for example a spot UV.

After the collateral has been printed, it will go to the finishing department, were it is folded into a booklet (or leaflet etc, depending on the specifications). Proceeding this the literature is ready to be bound. Binding could be as simple as stapling, perfect binding, or just a leaflet that wants trimming.

File copies of every job are created, quality checked and signed off. The customer is contacted to be made aware that their job is now ready for shipping. A date for delivery is agreed, and clients can decide if they want to be sent their file copies before or with delivery of their job.

The collateral goes down to despatch where it is either sent via overnight courier or with one of our drivers.

Finally, the printed literature arrives at the client destination. The customer is delighted!

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