I have to confess to often being in complete awe of imaging technology. Joel Snyder, my photo theory professor at Chicago, once remarked that no matter how many times he’s seen it, he’s still amazed watching the latent image emerge on exposed photographic paper that is placed in developer. Having spent a bit of time in a darkroom, I understand that uncanny reaction.

I often experience a similar feeling when I watch a press at work. Such was the case when I stopped by RIT’s Printing Applications Lab today to watch a class project being run on the Goss Web Press. It’s strangely breathtaking to observe an image appear, color-by-color, on a web of paper flowing at breakneck speeds through a press. Faster than the eye can see, for this press operates at a speed of multiple feet per second, each layer of ink — black, cyan, magenta, yellow — is applied, in perfect registration, as the paper flows from tower to tower. The paper then disappears into a drying unit and then emerges and is immediately folded and cut.

The press itself is far to large for me to take a picture of. I did manage these two shots using my cellphone. The first is of the web passing out of the magenta tower (no relation to Stephen King’s famed Dark Tower). The second is of the end result — folded signatures — emerging from the press.

Photos of the Web Press