There are several steps in the process regardless of the printing process employed. Because of the advance in desktop computers and desktop publishing, some of the steps may be compressed or collapsed, but they are still present.
These steps are
Traditionally designs were performed by hand using pencil, pen or brushes. Now many of these tasks are performed electronically with computer generated artwork and computerized typesetting (similar to but not exactly the same as word processing).
Traditionally image generation used photography, but now is almost exclusively performed electronically.
Images traditionally were transferred to transparent photographic film, using conventional photography. This is now all done electronically.
Image assembly was done by a process known as striping, but can now be done by a process known as electronic imposition. Image carrier preparation has usually involved imaging printing plates.
Much of this is still done using photomechanical methods, but many large printers have adopted devices which directly image plates.
Image transfer is the actual reproduction of the image on the target substrate. The finishing process involves cutting and binding of the finished printed piece.
This process is now highly automated for large printers and often employs in-line ink jet printing of customized labels and other customer specific material. We'll touch on most of these during this course.
Depending on the measure, the printing industry is between the 4th and 7th largest manufacturing industry in the world.
Printing companies range from very large Fortune 500 size organizations to small corner print shops.
Because of the large number of small print shops and the large number of printing plants owned by the large companies, there are more printing manufacturing sites than for any other industry.