The Evolution of Commercial Printing

A lot has changed in the long history of the commercial printing industry. Johannes Gutenberg first set the stage with his invention of the printing press in the 1400’s. Gutenberg was the first printer to use an alloy of lead, tin, antimony, copper and bismuth to create his type pieces (modern printers continue to use this mix today) and created a method which consisted of pieces being placed on a press in a prefixed position on a sheet. This allowed printers to use the same sheet for thousands of prints – a tremendous advance from the traditional method where a shop would employ sometimes hundreds of individual transcriptionists to manually copy books or posters one by one. His printing press revolutionized the spread of information through mass producible, printed media. Some attribute the current state of civilization to Johannes Gutenberg. Without him, they say, we would not have entered the age of enlightenment that came to be shortly after the introduction of his press. Some experts go so far as to state that we could still be living in the dark ages without the introduction of press-production printed material.

Only 49 copies of one of the first mass-produced publications made by the printing press, The Gutenberg Bible, have survived the test of time, and only 21 of those are complete. Collectors have paid more than $11.9 million to have a single copy of their own, acting as a true testament to the impact that the printing press has had on history and civilization itself.

With the traditional Gutenberg style press, a printer could expect to produce 200 impressions per hour, but by 1818, processes were introduced that leveraged steam to power automated presses and print shops could expect an output of up to 2400 impressions per hour. The addition of steam power was one of the first truly transformative developments of machine based automation in the printing industry.

Next, Richard March Hoe introduced the rotary printing press in 1843. The rotary press leveraged steam and new gear technology to bring the first scalable, mass production capable press to the printing industry. It allowed for continuous prints, and cut production time to a fraction of that of a traditional printing press.

The introduction of electricity and computing has now brought us into the modern age of printing. From inkjet to laser and now 3D printing, emerging technology promises a new era of innovation in the print industry. Printing has come a long way from the days of monks scribing individual manuscripts in candle lit abbeys. Today, a printer can expect to utilize state of the art equipment in modern, clean-room like environments to accomplish their jobs. Industrial 3D printing blends computer science and mechanical engineering to mass produce CAD-designed shapes for anything from tools and parts to bionic limbs for amputees.

Somehow, through persistent innovation, we’ve found our way from hand carved, template blocks dipped in ink and placed meticulously on a final medium to seamless digital printing equipment that only requires a computer file and a stable power connection to create thousands of consistent, vibrant, and dynamic pieces.

The addition of digital printing methods and resources drives the industry as we know it, and Birmingham Printing has just taken a step to reap even more benefit from this continued growth by investing in a second cutting edge digital printer, the Ricoh Pro C7200. For several years, Birmingham Printing has been able to utilize the advanced features of the Ricoh Pro C7100 and now we’ve just upped our game by adding another world-class machine to our production facility.

Ricoh is well known for manufacturing the gold standard of printing equipment in many different areas. Now that we have access to two of their most advanced machines in the space, we’re able to capitalize on the unique qualities that differentiate one from the other while also doubling our productivity capacity by being able to run simultaneous jobs on both printers. The Ricoh Pro C7100 really set the bar for efficiency and quality, in our view. Along with now standard availability of CMYK coloring technology, the Ricoh Pro C7100 offers both white toner for use on colored print mediums and clear toner to add a glossy effect to specific designs.

The Ricoh C7100 acts as a tested and reliable workhorse for our team, and we couldn’t wait to add it’s next generation machine to our arsenal of production equipment. The new Ricoh Pro C7200 offers improved capabilities to digitally imprint on an array of materials including textured, metallic, and translucent options. It has enhanced binding capabilities and can produce completely finished booklets for projects that require communication of extensive info through the use of multiple pages. Both printers are able to handle large runs without sacrificing quality, and can print variable data jobs (aka individualized or personalized prints).

By investing in both the Ricoh Pro C7100 and C7200, we’ve renewed a commitment to our customers to provide the highest quality of printed items while maintaining efficient and consistent productivity. We’ve literally doubled our capabilities in an effort to serve our clients with consistently high quality work while being able to meet their timelines due to the added capacity. Our goal is to be able to support the diverse needs of our valued client base in a timely fashion with the superior customer experience the modern business consumer expects.Birmingham Printing stands by our commitment to use world class technology to provide an industry leading customer experience.

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