Campus News

Ready to roll: Printing department gets new state-of-the-art offset press

Press run operators
Press operators Clayton Cooper (left) and Steve Allen compare prints to check for and maintain consistency and quality during a press run.

The University Printing Department will never be the same.

After years of wishing for a state-of-the-art press, Max Harrell, manager of the printing department, and Jeff Allen, printing department assistant manager, have their dream printing press-a Heidelberg Speedmaster 102 four-color offset printing press.

Harrell describes it as the “Rolls-Royce of printing presses” and declares it the biggest thing to happen to University Printing since 1938, when the department was founded.

The new press has the capacity to print on paper that is up to 40 inches wide, which is 12 inches wider than the older-model press. It also prints faster and with impressive quality, according to Harrell. In fact, the press can print more than
12,000 sheets of paper an hour, compared to the approximately 7,000 sheets an hour the older model press prints.

The press was purchased in November and then transferred from a print shop in Atlanta and moved in six pieces to University Printing.

Finished before the Christmas holidays, installation took about a month, as the pressroom’s 12-inch-thick concrete floor was dug up and replaced with 18 inches of reinforced concrete to accommodate the massively heavy press.

The press operators then went through training to learn all the press’ bells and whistles-mostly to get used to the computerized controls that monitor everything from ink levels to paper alignment.

“We used to have to jump on the press and move it (when something went wrong),” said Steve Allen, an offset press operator. “Now, we go to the computer screen and tell it to do something-it’s nice to have some of the automated features.”

With the three-month training period over, the printing department is ready to print magazines, brochures, business cards, letterhead, journals, books, posters, pocket folders, envelopes-anything that can be printed on sheet-fed paper.

The department still has its older four-color press, so with two presses they’re ready for more work and are able to compete, both time and price-wise, with other area printers.

And because it’s a campus unit, other on-campus departments don’t have to bid printing jobs out and go through the Office of Procurement, Harrell said.

Turn around for printing jobs is flexible, depending on when the job is needed and if the project needs to be designed, said Harrell.

“We will work with you to do everything possible to get your job delivered on time,” he said.