VATICAN CITY — After more than 400 years of printing for popes, the Vatican typography shop has acquired a digital press to help reduce production waste, be more energy efficient and allow for on-demand publishing to avoid print overruns.
The Vatican printing press, which is responsible for printing everything from official papal documents to Mass booklets and art books for the Vatican Museums, received the new press Dec. 13, Vatican News reported Dec 15.
The latest generation press is 26 feet long and 15 feet wide (8 meters by 4.5 meters) and will save on energy costs and production waste, said Francesco Masci, head of technology for the Vatican Dicastery for Communication.
By using high-quality digital technology, the press will reduce energy consumption and avoid the massive waste caused by offset printing on metal plates, which are then disposed of after one use, he told Vatican News.
The new digital press will also use “water-based inks, eliminating the chemical solvents that had to be disposed of in great quantities,” he said.
In the next week or so when the new press is up and running, “in theory, all the print jobs done by the digital press will not produce any waste materials,” he said.
The biggest waste saver, he said, will be the ability to print on-demand and avoid being left with pallets of printed materials stored in warehouses waiting to be sold, distributed or pulped.
Offset printing required producing a minimum of 10,000 copies of that one book or print job, he said.
Digital printing means they also can do small, specialized print jobs for more clients worldwide, he added.