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FCNP Visits New Printer at Delaware Printing Company

Seven staff members of the mighty Falls Church News-Press went on a road trip earlier this month to Dover, Del. to tour the sleek, modern state-of-the-art press which took over the printing operation of the News-Press earlier this year. this-one-nick

Seven staff members of the mighty Falls Church News-Press went on a road trip earlier this month to Dover, Del. to tour the sleek, modern state-of-the-art press which took over the printing operation of the News-Press earlier this year.

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The News-Press and Delaware Printing Company crews together. (Photo: Delaware Printing Company)

The Delaware Printing Company (DPC), is based on the outskirts of Dover, and prints numerous weekly publications, including several for the D.C. Metro area.

Members of the DPC staff greeted their News-Press counterparts with a welcoming marquee before their general manager, Tom Bugbee, led a tour throughout the impressive warehouse of offices and machinery.

As the tour wound past the frenetic machines and busy operators at their stations, large vats of ink and reams of paper, News-Press owner Nicholas Benton remarked about the lingering scent of ink and paper of the printing press.

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The News-Press inspects the press. (Photo: Delaware Printing Company)

“Do you smell that?” Benton exclaimed. “That smell is the reason why print newspapers will never die.”
Bugbee, who has worked in printing for 35 years, replied, “I knew I liked that guy.”

The tour’s main attraction had a warehouse all to itself: the technologically cutting-edge, three-story Colora Press, produced by German press manufacturer, Koenig and Bauer AG.

With a maximum production rate of 75,000 copies an hour, and a computer that monitors, with precision, ink levels and all operations big and small, the Colora Press is a revolution in printing.

For the DPC’s needs, the printer puts out more than 30,000 copies of finished product an hour.

“After years of dealing with printers, everything has changed with this technology,” Bugbee told the News-Press crew.

Most of the human labor happens away from the actual press, in the confines of the adjoining “quiet room.”

There, the press operators sit in front of large computer modules, monitoring the press and its internal computers to ensure the press is functioning properly.

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Burkey Emmons demonstrates how the aluminum sheets are processed in the CTP room. (Photo: Delaware Printing Company)

“The few years we’ve had this machine, there’s not been a single major problem,” said Bugbee. “Until last week, that is, when there was an issue with the cooling water, but we fixed that problem in a day.”

Upstairs is where thin aluminum plates are imprinted with the newspaper’s layout to place on the press. The diligent CTP, or “computer-to-plate,” team handles the process, and the expansive Kodak printers  churn out the nightly product.

The CTP operation involves just as much automation as the German-made press, with computerized cameras following the metal sheets through the printers and cutting blocks.

“I remember when we had the old machines, we would have the fans running all night long,” said CTP teammate Burkey Emmons about the heat generated by the earlier models.

Emmons crafts the layout for the metal prints from files the News-Press sends electronically every Wednesday night.

Toni Hewes, a veteran member of the CTP team, also showed the News-Press around the CTP room.
In the printing business for nearly 40 years, Hewes said with a laugh, “A whole lot has changed these days.”