How It's Made

Posted: April, 2013 | By: Megan Carpenter

Perhaps this is the first time you've picked up The Boyertown Bulletin. Perhaps you’re one of our many readers who collect them. At either end of the spectrum, or maybe somewhere in between, a thought may have crossed your mind: “Just how is this thing made?”

Well, to answer that question, we turn to Scott Gabel, President and COO of Boyertown Publishing Company. The company, which has been located at 48 South Reading Avenue since 1857, prints this monthly publication.

For Boyertown Publishing, it all begins on the third Monday of every month. That is when they receive a digital copy of the upcoming edition from The Bulletin's Layout Editor, Zach Reinert, Proprietor of ZARmedia. By the following Friday, just a few days and 10,000 copies later, The Boyertown Bulletin is delivered to Andre’s Country Meat Market, Suloman’s Dairy, Robin Zimmers Pets, Zerns Farmers Market, your favorite store/restaurant (over 80 local locations in all), or even your mailbox if you’re one of our many subscribers who live far away or want to make sure to get The Boyertown Bulletin right away.

Gabel explains that step one of the publishing process is called proofing. This includes printing out a proof copy of the whole bulletin—all 16 pages—onto one sheet of paper. It may sound strange, but all 16 pages, eight on each side of the sheet, fit nicely on a 23” × 35” sheet of paper. The HP printer that Boyertown Publishing Company uses to print these proofs is way larger than the average home office printer!
At this point, the proof is physically cut into its standard 11” × 8 ½” size and glued together to create what is known as the 16 page signature. This is all done by the end of the day on Monday. The proof is the last chance for corrections, and once approved, it is time to move on to plating.

Step two of the process also involves a printer, but this time there is no paper and there is no ink. In order to create a plate, the same eight pages per side are printed onto a sheet of aluminum using a laser printer. At eight pages per plate, our Bulletin has two plates at the end of this process. After printing, a thin layer of a waxy, gum-like substance is applied to prevent damage. These plates have replaced the film process, and are used in step three, the printing press.

Here we are now on Wednesday morning. Up next comes a machine larger than a small car. This is the printing press. In all, Boyertown Publishing Company houses four printing presses and two can be utilized for the black and white printing of our Bulletin.

The printing press holds a large, cylindrical roller. Attached above the roller is the metal plate. Ink is poured in at the top of the machine and filters down onto the plate. The plate comes into contact with the roller all while 23” × 35” sheets of paper are being sent through. This press only prints one side at a time, so the Bulletin gets flipped and sent through twice. Just like a car, this printing press has an odometer. At the time that this paper went to press, the odometer was at just over 75 million runs.

This brings us to Friday morning. We now have 10,000 large sheets of paper with eight pages of Bulletin printed on each side. It is time to get folding. In a process that takes five hours, the sheets are run through the folder; three folds take the size down to what is in your hands right now. At the very end, three sides of the folded sheet get trimmed off to get your open edges, leaving the fold on the left.

It may seem like a quick process from start to finish, at less than a week for printing, but you can see that it’s very involved. Gabel explains that local projects are special for the company, "Anything Boyertown we go above and beyond for." Boyertown Publishing sure does, and we owe them our most sincere thanks.

There you have it. The paper in your hands has had quite a journey before it made its way to you. It has been proofed, plated, pressed, folded, sliced, and delivered. Whether this is your first or thirteenth time reading The Boyertown Bulletin, the goal has always been the same—for you, our readers & customers, to enjoy learning about our little community: its people, events, places, organizations, businesses. We are glad that you take a part in this.