It smells a bit like rubber. It rotates fast and with every rotation it spits out 104 pages. Daniel would never say it out loud, but it is a bit like a sleeping dragon. Its breath fills the hall with same noise of rotating cylinders over and over again. It is big. 50 metres long, 16 metres wide and 11.5 metres tall. Daniel cannot remember how big the biggest dragon he’d ever seen was, but if ever there was one, Lilo would be the biggest of all.
Gentle giant Daniel strolls alongside the rotary press, strokes its outer casing, and feels the subtle vibrations from this fine piece of German-made engineering. Even if its dimensions seem huge, it is actually quite thin, considering what it does. Daniel smiles, since he doesn’t really know whether ‘thin’ is really the right word to describe a machine that weighs 480 tons in total. 4.8 million pages an hour. 7 days a week. Daniel has great respect for what it can do – and knows how to ensure that it is productive. He goes over to the control panel. If he wants to tell Lilo something, he does so via the touchscreen. This is where he communicates with it and his second printer via inline control systems for colour, cutting, colour density and folding. They allow him to be very flexible in how he uses Lilo and guarantee the best quality. The wafer-thin printing plates are so light that Daniel could change them on his own. This giant is the very epitome of efficiency. When he learnt his job from scratch at Mohn Media, each of these machines was still a steel colossus, and the men who operated them were real grafters with the upper-arm strength of Bodybuilders.
The quiet breath of the dragon
The hands on the giant wall clock have kept on moving during the night, and the sun is slowly rising. It’s time for a change of shift. Daniel strolls alongside Lilo, strokes her outer casing, feels the vibration inside, then leaves the print shop. Once in the half-empty car park, he opens his car window, breathes in the fresh summer air and drives away. Gradually, he leaves the familiar sound of the rotating cylinders, the quiet breath of the dragon, behind him. But only for a few hours. And that is how it should be.
Yes, I am a printer. But that’s not all. Nowadays printers have to be designers, too. I have to master the interplay between the many individual parameters, and find the most sensible solution in the process.