Web Press

Not for Printing Web Pages

Printing, Web Press in action, four color, roll paper in press
Web Press in action, four color, roll paper in press; Kim Steele / Getty Images | Printing & Finishing Terms | Alpha Index to Full Dictionary:. # | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | XYZ

A type of printing press, a web press prints on continuous rolls of paper or other substrates. Some web presses print on both sides of the paper at the same time. Most web presses use several connected units for printing different colors of ink, and some have units that cut, collate, fold and punch—all in line—so a finished product rolls off the end of the press, ready for distribution.

High-speed commercial web presses use wide rolls of paper for newspapers, books, calendars and other printed products.

 Heat-set web presses use heat to set the ink. This is essential for printing on glossy stock. The paper runs through the web units so quickly that the ink must be set. Small or cold-set web presses handle lower volume printing of forms, such as direct mail and small publications with paper roll widths as small as 11 inches. The paper used on cold-set web presses is almost always uncoate

Newspaper presses can occupy several floors and contain multiple printing units along with a variety of folding sections to handle the different sections of the paper. The phrase "Stop the presses!" originally referred to stopping the running of a newspaper web press because of an important late-breaking news story. If printing was already in progress but not far along, the plates with the change would be substituted, and a new version of the paper sent to the press.

A web press is typically used for very high-volume printing such as for magazines and newspapers.

Web presses are much faster than most sheet-fed presses. Printing presses for flexographic printing, often used for packaging, are usually web presses.

Advantages of Web Presses

  • Much faster than sheet-fed presses
  • Lower paper cost for rolls of paper
  • Handles most folding and binding in-line
  • Once it is running, a web press lowers overhead and production times

    These usually equate to a lower per-piece price on jobs with long runs.

    Disadvantages of Web Presses

    • More expensive than sheet-fed presses
    • Larger, heavier equipment
    • Usually requires more than one operator
    • Loud when running—some require special sound-dampening rooms
    • Much larger infrastructure and power requirements
    • Higher make-ready costs and waste

    At some point in run length, the advantages and disadvantages cancel out. In general, a very long print run is less expensive when run on a web press than on a sheet-fed press.