The Rotary Press


The rotary press is a printing press which can print on paper, cardboard or plastic. The way the machine operates is:

  •  the mounted type or images go onto curved  print plates on one cylinder
  • another cylinder lines up with the print cylinder as a impresser
  • the paper, cardboard or plastic is fed between the two cylinders as they rotate in opposite directions
  • the  impressing cylinder presses the material onto the inked plates

Rotary printing is most often used for web operations and high speed applications.


It was in either 1843 or 1844 that Richard Mark Hoe invented the two drum concept of the machine. The paper could be fed sheet by sheet or by roll, depending on whether extra attention had to be given to the print, like embossing or overprinting. Hoe modified his machine several times in the next couple of years and finally patented it in 1847. Several machines had to be used at the same time in a larger printer for jobs like putting out large editions of newspapers. The first rotary press could                      print 8,000 copies in an hour.                                                 Hoe’s Six Cylinder from (

Today’s larger units print as many as 60,000 copies of standard paper sheets in that time.

How it work?

There are three different processes performed by the rotary printing press:

  1. Offset lithography: This process uses chemicals to put the images on the plate and uses a process called planographics to produce a wet surface where white space is needed and a dry surface for the area that contains the images or type.                 Image

2. Rotogravure: This type of printing uses a copper cylinder which is filled with ink and has small holes etched into the surface.


3. Flexography: This style of printing creates a raised stamp or image in a relief style pattern using apolymer based plate.    


There is also a simple procedure for two colour rotary presses.  In this process there are two cylinders each with its own inking style and each using different type used one after the other, so that the paper receives both ink loads as it passes between the cylinders.  The same concept can be applied for both sides of the paper or for using four or five colours just by switching cylinders to differently configured ones.  Some cylinders are large enough to take several plates so each time the cylinder rotates, it can print numerous copies of the same page.


Useful Reading:









All my pictures are from google image

By: Abdul alyami


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