Pursue Successful Career in Printing Services
Printing industry is quite a progressive industry and there is a wide spectrum of jobs available in this sector. Printing workers are involved in the production of print material in primarily three main stages namely prepress, press and both binding & finishing together. Printing workers have the responsibility of reviewing specifications, calibrating printers or colour settings, identifying and fixing issues related to printing equipment and also, assembling pages.
The printing process involves three stages and in very small print shops it is common for one person to handle all three stages. However, mostly print shops have different sets of workers who specialize in jobs related to particular stages of the printing process.
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Specialist Printing Workers
Prepress Technicians: These workers render specialist printing services. They help in preparing print jobs and perform a number of tasks for assisting in converting pictures and text into finished pages and preparing the pages for printing. Some prepress technicians called prefight technicians are responsible for taking images from customers or graphic designers and checking them for completeness. They are responsible for designs and job specifications from clients’ electronic files or submitted sketches in order to make sure that everything is perfect and error-free and that all pictures are included.
A set of prepress workers specialize in a photographic process called Cold Type Technology for making offset printing plates. This is a complicated process that involves chemical exposure and ultraviolet light through which pictures and text of any print job are left to harden on metallic plates so that they become water-resistant. The print technology has recently made a lot of progress and has adopted revolutionary technology known as the direct-to-plate technology. Prepress technicians are now required to directly send the data to plating systems, thereby excluding the necessity for the customary photographic technique.
Printing Press Operators: These workers specialize in preparing, running and maintaining printing presses. Their responsibilities vary as per the kind of press they would be operating. Conventional printing processes such as gravure, lithography, letterpress and flexography are known to use a roller or plate carrying the final image and then the image is copied to paper.
However, in modern times, non-impact processes are becoming popular. Plateless processes include digital, ink-jet and electrostatic printing and are effective in duplicating, copying and specialty as well as document printing. Nowadays commercial printers are used by digital presses mostly. Printing press operators learn to prepare, run as well as, maintain whatever printing presses they are operating.
Binding and Finishing Staff: These workers are responsible for integrating printed sheets into a finished item such as catalogue, magazine or a book. Their responsibilities are as per what they are supposed to bind. Often some binding and finishing tasks require only a single step. Preparing newspaper inserts or leaflets, for instance, simply needs a single folding and trimming.
Binding magazines and books would involve several steps. Bindery workers are responsible for assembling the magazines or books at first from flat, large printed paper sheets. Then they are supposed to operate machines that are used for folding printed paper sheets into signatures or groups of pages that are organized and arranged sequentially. Then bindery workers are responsible for assembling signatures in the correct order and joining them by perfect binding or saddle stitching.
Printing workers should possess excellent communication skills as they need to communicate with clients and understand their precise requirements. They should possess basic computer skills and should be conversant with the publishing software. They should have an eye for detail and possess basic math skills that are essential for coming up with estimates of amount of paper and ink required for a printing job. They should definitely have mechanical aptitude as well to be successful in their profession.
Prepress technicians should acquire a formal Post-secondary Non-Degree Award or they could opt for an Associate’s Degree from a reputed technical school or a junior college, or any well-known community college. Printing press operators as well as binding & finishing technicians should acquire a High School Diploma and should ideally complete Post-secondary coursework that is usually offered by vocational schools and community colleges. Those aspiring to pursue management jobs in design or printing may opt for a Bachelor’s Degree Program in Graphic Design. Printing workers need to constantly update and upgrade their skills to stay abreast with recent developments in the printing industry.
Charles Denver is an experienced engineer turned career counselor who has been attached to a digital printing business for more than three decades. He has now taken to blogging, and tracks down new and innovative technology to analyze the impact it may have on the current printing market scenario.
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