Another View: From our computers to your doors — here comes The Press
Samantha Anderson and I, editorial assistants for Whitehall- Coplay Press, Northampton Press and Catasauqua Press, visited TN Printing in Lehighton Oct. 25.
I have been wanting to tour the facility and learn how our papers are printed for a while, so when the appropriate time came about, I was overjoyed with the opportunity.
TN Printing, located at 594 Blakeslee Blvd. Drive W., Lehighton, prints not only Lehigh Valley Press and Times News newspapers but also inserts for inside the newspapers and other various products for Times News Media Group and other businesses and individuals, such as business cards, magazines, stationary and more.
Times News is the sister publication of Lehigh Valley Press.
TN Printing began in 1971 “as a small in-house print shop” for services for Times News and the other companies under Pencor Corporation, according to the TN Printing website. In the ’70s, the company grew to “become a premier commercial cold set web printer and offer full-color sheet-fed printing services.”
Growth continued in the 1980s, and in 2002, Times News and TN Printing came together at the same facility.
“The 20,000-square-foot expansion allowed for a new five-unit state-of-the-art computerized Koenig and Bauer web press, with in-line gluing that has the ability to print 35,000 papers per hour, with 16 full-color broadsheet pages. It includes a Kodak Trendsetter direct to plate system with Staccato screening capabilities, Epson digital proofing and color management and a Nela optical plate punching and registration system.
“The sheet-fed printing division, located on the ground floor, includes a Shinohara four-color perfector, a Shinohara two-color perfector, dual AB Dick two-color duplicators and an Icon CPP 650 high-speed color copier,” according to the website.
Chris Daily, pressman, was our tour guide of the printing facility. I had the expectation of going into a large room where I would see a machine. I was wrong. It was a large machine and not just one - there was one machine to do the actual printing and organizing of the newspapers’ pages, another machine to stick in inserts and another to print the mail addresses on the papers.
But before you get to put ink onto paper, you have to first get the plates ready. These plates are flat aluminum sheets that have the photos, articles, headlines, ads, etc., printed onto them. They are fed into the printing machine against big heavy rollers, and there they stay until the printing of that newspaper is done.
Farther down that machine, the newspapers begin to come out. An employee looks to make sure the printing is successful. The newspapers travel through another two sections of the facility on the conveyor belt that is now at the top of the ceiling. Once lower to the floor, an employee takes them off and piles them together for another ride on a different conveyor belt. On here, inserts, fliers, etc., are placed inside the newspapers.
An interesting fact: On this conveyor belt for inserts, tubes that blow out air are attached to the machine to separate the newspapers in half, so the inserts can be easily placed in the middle. Pretty neat!
After the inserts are placed, they continue down the line where another employee collects the newspapers and makes sure the inserts are fitting inside perfectly, no pages are twisting, etc.
Then, in the mail room, the papers are placed on another conveyor belt where the mail address label is printed on the newspaper. This step also has to be checked. An employee makes sure the addresses are legible and in the correct spot. The newspapers are then separated into piles based on the location of our subscribers for mailing. They are put into bags to be taken to the post office.
I had no idea the work and process that’s involved in printing was so elaborate. There are many steps from the time The Press editors hit the “approve” button to when the newspapers arrive at your door. There are even some more steps into which I did not go into detail.
I hope by reading this editorial you gained a little bit of knowledge on the group effort it takes to provide this great service for you.
I thank my editor, Kelly Lutterschmidt, and Richard Danyo, circulation/distribution, for putting this opportunity together, so Sam and I could see our newspapers printed. It was incredibly exciting to see the work we do on the computer come to life in print. I also thank Daily for showing us around. We learned so much from him and many others at TN Printing.