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Seventy-two years of service (1947-2019)


Back in 1947 we started with a hand fed platen press powered by a foot treadle. We used letterpress wood blocks and lead type selected letter by letter from cases (wooden trays). Type 'Compositors' took seven years training to become a 'Journeyman' by which time they would be suitably skilled at selecting the tiny pieces of type and arranging them for printing. Perhaps the worst job was to 'Diss' the type back into the right compartments in the type cases. A story our Chairman once told me was that a mate at printing college had once 'dissed' his type over Waterloo bridge.

Our staple diet was business cards, and the biggest job we undertook was the parish newsletter.


printing in West London and Hertfordshire

Letterpress wood blocks as used by Evolve nearly 50 years ago


By 1963 we were printing 24 different local newspaper titles including the Dorset County Journal, the Ruislip Weekly Post and the very first issue of International Journal. There were 60 staff including reporters, photographers and ad sales clerks.


Offset Lithography coupled with computerised phototypesetting was the new technology by the mid '70s. We started with a single colour press but soon moved to 2 colours and then in the late '80s invested in a 5 colour press, for 4 process colours plus an extra 5th unit for spot colours or varnish.


In 1990 we were among the very first printers to invest in Applemac technology to help us produce film for making printing plates. We had 3 machines and one was a range-topping IIFX which we completely filled with RAM, 128MB of it! We connected it to our new colour scanner and I remember the scanner cost slightly more than my house. What a set up that was! However, it quickly needed more memory as each picture we scanned to A4 took 25MB of space. 41 of these filled a 1 Gigabyte external hard disk which back then cost £1,000.


It then took just two years for nearly all of our artwork to change from artwork 'boards' into electronic artwork and the 3 rooms we devoted to storage of old films and plates were condensed down to one small room and a fireproof safe for our backup tapes. Plates were recycled immediately after use and made again if needed.


Despite the emergence of digital printing in the '90s we were waiting for the quality to rival that of our existing litho operation. In 2005 we made our first investments into both Wide format and the faster, but smaller sheet size, digital technology, first with Xerox and now with Heidelberg digital. With it came variable data. This quickly led as a natural evolution into mail sortation and fulfilment.


Now in 2019, we have invested in in Heidelberg's latest technology and top of the range printing press with In-Press '. This brings fully automated colour measuring and colour register 'inside' the press enabling fast set ups and consistent colour. The coating unit on the end of the press provides 15,000 dry prints per hour instantly ready for print finishing. Cost and speed have been cut to such an extent that with this technology we litho print many of the jobs we used to print digitally.



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