Information Dissemination Goal of Printers’ Groups

  • Small plants substitute reading for having their own research departments
  • Organizational bulletins provide source of information for busy printers
  • Attending conventions and having personal exchange of ideas are helpful

With costs of composing room operation mounting higher and higher, printers are constantly looking for a means to “hold the line” in competition with other printers. They want to secure, if possible, that slight edge of efficiency.

Large printing firms, aware of rapid technological advances in the industry, have installed special departments whose function it is to inform them of current trends. Others have delegated this responsibility to one of their employees. For the smaller plants, of course, this solution is not practical. Therefore, they are finding it difficult to remain informed about the significance of current changes.

A contribution toward dissemination of such information has been made by the International Association of Printing House Craftsmen and by other professional groups, as well as by conventions and specialized trade conferences.

Personal attendance at conventions is the ideal method, but even this is a luxury which cannot be afforded too often by the small plant owner, Foreman, or superintendent. The writer has observed upon numerous occasions that a roomful of practical printers can exchange more down-to-earth “dope” in a couple of hours than many another group accomplishes in an entire conference.

Useful Reports by R & E Council

Reliance on reading material becomes, then, essential to anyone who wants to remain acquainted with these new advances. The trade press, in its attempts to inform the printer, does an excellent job. At present, there are some 40 magazines covering nearly every printing specialty.

During the last few years, several printers’ organizations have made a serious attempt to simplify the process by which new ideas, methods, and procedures are channeled to the people best equipped to analyze them and to put them into practice.

Of particular note is the Research and Engineering Council of the Graphic Arts Industry, which recently held its sixth annual meeting in Chicago. The R. & E. Council has performed a particularly outstanding task in the coördination of the scattered research activities which affect the printing industry. Committees are appointed to study projects.

In this manner many ideas are discussed and there practicability evaluating. For example, in composing room operations some of the following projects have been under consideration: Elimination of string tie-up of type, acetate proofing, phototypesetting, study of composing room operations, and cold type composition methods.

Of particular interest to composing room personnel are some of the bulletins published originally by the Printing Industry of America in cooperation with the Government Printing Office, but now sponsored by R. & E. Council. Under the heading of “Composition Publications” are the following titles: Type Metals (No. C-1), Reproduction Proofs (No. C-2), Transparent Proofs (No. C-3).

Also in the series of reports are six on platemaking (letterpress) most of which are of interest to composing room people, ten bulletins on bindery operation, and eight in a general grouping which includes detergents, preventive maintenance, and press rollers. The list of R. & E. Council publications is completed with two voluminous reports on Makeready and Premakeready.

All of the reports are standard size, bunched in a three-ring binder, and the entire set is available for $44.85, including the binder. However, any of the bulletins may be purchased separately at moderate cost. For information, write to Research and Engineering Council of the Graphic Parts Industry, Inc., 5728 Connecticut Avenue N.W., Washington 15, D.C.

Variety of Sources in America

A further source of information is the organization known as TAGA, the Technical Association of the Graphic Arts. It was organized in 1948 primarily as a lithographic research body. In 1951 TAGA was broadened to include all graphic arts applications.

Technical difficulties of many printing processes are scrutinized by certain committees which—in the manner of the R. & E. Council mentioned above–report at an annual meeting, and published a bulletin entitled Proceedings. Interim reports of progress are in the TAGA Newsletter.

Information concerning TAGA may be secured from the Sec.-Treas., Philip E. Tobias, of Edward Stern & Co., Inc., 6th & Cherry Sts., Philadelphia.

As part of a continuing program of education, research, and information, the Rochester Institute of Technology has, in the last few years, developed a Graphic Arts Information Service which provides a source of inquiry into all phases of the graphic arts.

The information set-up consists of a library and a staff to record and file all data concerning current progress in the related printing industries. This library subscribes to some 150 periodicals. From them the staff gleans outstanding material to list in its bi-monthly newsletter, Graphic Arts Progress, which includes an index of most of the important articles.

This index is extremely useful to the busy printer who hasn’t time to keep up with all the trade publications. As an additional service, the information service will photostat any of its material upon request and will also send research reports of activities in R.I.T.’s Graphic Arts Research Department which are published and distributed from time to time.

Graphic Arts Progress is available without cost to anyone interested in the service. Write to Graphic Arts Information Service, Rochester Institute of, 65 Plymouth Avenue South, Rochester 8, N.Y.

Two British sources of information are worth investigation, as composing room practices in Britain do not differ a great deal from those in this country. The British Federation of Master Printers, similar to the PIA in the United States, has published a series of pamphlets under the title “Precision Aids Series.”

British Composing, Pressroom Aids

These booklets are concerned with current developments in composing rooms and pressrooms, the latter material being concerned principally with mounting bases. Up to this time the series consists of the following reports: Block Height Gauges, Make-up Gauges, Block Mounting, Squaring and Registered gauges, Quoins, Type Height and Thickness Gauges, Mounting Bases, Furniture, and Roller Setting Gauges.

Altogether, this is a most interesting group of reports, and one which could well be produced in kind by one of our own organizations.

Information concerning distribution of the series may be obtained from British Federation of Master Printers, 11 Bedford Wrote, London, W.C. 1, England.

A monthly British publication of real value is Printing Abstracts. It lists the technical articles on printing published throughout the world, along with a short abstract of each article of recognize worth. This magazine may be obtained from the Research and Engineering Council for $12.50 a year.

Up-to-Date Knowledge Is Vital

Up late, the printing industry is a great deal more conscious of technological advances than it ever has been before in its long history. The problem of remaining abreast of developments will continue to be more difficult, but practical economics dictates the need to be aware of the direction in which the industry is going.

As present equipment becomes obsolete, each printer is faced with the task of replacement. To be well informed is the key to future business success. Plants which have made the most progress in the last ten years have been those which have been most alive in the possibilities of new methods and new equipment.

This article first appeared in “The Composing Room” column of the September 1956 issue of The Inland Printer.

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