Yesterday, in Comics History, we learned all about the Comics Code and how "Freedom of Speech" is not as free as we believe. Even in America.

It seems that, throughout America's history, having an opinion - and having a printing press - were two of the most dangerous weapons a person could possess. Don't believe me? Think about it - what laws get passed most easily? Gun control... or censorship?

Today - we had a field trip to a modern printing press! We traveled to Upper Valley News in West Lebanon.

The smell of ink and burned plastic overwhelmed me and triggered a migraine - but before that - we got to see lots of interesting machines.

Left to right:
• This machine exposed the negatives of the newspaper pages onto incredibly thin sheets of steel with a thin coating of photopolymer.
• These sheets were run through a machine that washed out the unexposed areas, then heat set them and spit them into a bin.
• This cardboard box holds about $5000 worth of printing plates. These are all exposed (used).
• The plates stick magnetically to the huge metal rollers in the press. Ink is rolled over them and they press against other rollers that then press against the papers. (Like a rubber stamp).

• The clean up area is so beautiful, I included a bigger shot of it below.

• The ink is stored in these tanks - red, yellow and blue.

• There are giant tanks of black in the background. These inks are mixed with water to help the ink absorb into the paper. They run through pipes to the presses - and each vat can last about a week before being refilled.

• We were not concerned... at all... by the evidence on the ceiling of ink explosions. Not a bit. Really.

• The rolls of paper came in Small, Large and Double-wide. One roll? About 15 miles of paper! And each weighs about a ton.

Machines for ink. Machines for paper. Machines for cutting. Machines for folding.

• Watching the machine that carries papers from here to there.
• The machine that inserts flyers into the papers.
• The machine that bundles and wraps plastic tape around stuff.

I didn't find "the machine that goes BING" but I'm sure it was there somewhere.

Again, the washup area was really pretty...

... don't you just love that touch of red? Like a goose peeking over the edge, having a chat with the faucet...

Ah, yeh.
Did I mention the smell really gets to you in that place?
I'm sure it has no effect on one's faculties...

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