This was a great day! The winners of Writers of the Future and Illustrators of the Future were all taken to Bang Printing to see our anthology – Volume 30 of L Ron Hubbard presents Writers of the Future – come off the press.
We traveled there by luxury coach. It was so rock-star, it even had a minibar and stripper pole (because you just never know what hidden talents a writer might chose to break out).
Not that much bar-ring or pole-dancing occurred during the bus ride. Most of us still had to read the stories were we meant to be critiquing later that afternoon.
At Bang Printing, we were given a brief induction over coffee (my first experience with coffee in a box!) and pastries …
… before we were taken to visit the printing factory proper!
One of the first machines we encountered took blocks of taped-together pages and reproduced them onto aluminium sheeting. This hardy sheeting was then used as the blueprint by the larger printing machines responsible for turning out the pages of the book.
The taped together pages:
A demonstration of how the laid out pages would convert into a formatted book.
The pages of the book printed onto the aluminium sheeting:
Heading further into the enormous factory space …
… we learned about a range of printing modalities from our helpful guide:
This massive, multi-million-dollar machine prints in black and white and full colour (CMYK). Instead of taking out a “cartridge” to top up one of the inks as one might do in a home printer, tins of ink are poured into the respective parts of the machine to top it up.
Eventually, we reached the part of the factory where “our” book was being printed. This was the most extraordinary experience! The smell of the print, the roaring and clacking of the various machines!
This machine, fed by its huge rolls of paper, was printing groups of pages, using the aluminium sheet blueprints from the first machine we encountered.
At this stage, the pages were arranged on the huge printed sheets several pages wide and deep (i.e. not in the form of a book), so these had to be cut in such a way that the pages could be arranged into book form in their correct sequence. The below photos show the huge printed sheets feeding into a machine which converts them to several smaller rows of pages.
The pages which had been grouped together on each aluminium blueprint were then folded into small, manageable units, each of which would comprise one section (a line of pages) of a final book:
The collections of pages (each unit coming along the above conveyor is identical) were stored together, ready to be fed, along with the many other groupings of pages which had been created, into the final machines responsible for putting them all together as a finished product.
Workers feeding the page groupings into the final binding machines:
Our guide indicating how all the different groupings of pages that make up the book are aligned, folded-edges down. In the binding machine, these folded-edges are slathered with adhesive and pressed onto the inner aspect of the book-cover’s spine, thereby creating the bound book.
The covers waiting to be added to the binding machine:
Through the viewing glass, we could watch the process. Number 15 has the book’s pages and is about to press them onto the shiny white rectangle below, which is the book’s cover.
The books came out of the binding machine and we finally got to see them!
The books still needed cropping, so they were fed into a final machine to have this done:
After which, they emerged as neat, rectangular, fully bound and coloured books!
We each got to take one straight off the press. As a further surprise, our anthology was printed with full-colour illustrations – the first L Ron Hubbard presents Writers of the Future anthology to do so! Joy all round!
Thus ended our trip to Bang Printing. Thank you guys at Bang!
But our day was not over yet! From there we were taken to visit the Challenger Center.