The Passion and Process of Printing With AMA Design and Print

When it comes to having our physical printing for materials done, we are extremely fortunate to be right down the street from one of the best printers in Northwest Indiana: AMA Design and Print. Time after time, we have come to rely on AMA for a quality product that is done on time. And it was no different this time when we reached out to Kelley Schott and the team to produce this year’s State of Life material.

Throughout the process of hiring to delivery, AMA is always in great communication with us over here at the IIMM office. However, one thought has always crossed my mind whenever the perfectly produced paper product comes through our doors: “How do they do it? How do they do it so well and so fast?”

Fortunately, Head Printer and Co-owner, Shad Harden was nice enough to help me satisfy my curiousness for how it all goes down and invite me over to see the finishing touches on our State of Life Printing.

I opened the doors to AMA to the sounds of a gigantic printer firing on all cylinders. There was a swoosh of the rollers with our design on it spinning at what seemed like a 100 MPH, followed by a plunk as a freshly made State of Life sheet hit the holding area at the bottom of the machine.

As the rollers spun, I asked Shad about how much ink really goes into making them, thinking that you would have to break out some kind of Crayola-esque assortment to make as colorful a sheet as our State of Life paper.

“There’s only four colors used in the process,” Harden said.

Only four???

“Yea, cyan, magenta, black (key), and yellow. With those four colors, you can print out pretty much any color you desire.”

“How is that possible?” I asked.

“Take a look,” Harden responded, handing me a magnifying glass and directing me to a picture of a kid in a freshly printed magazine. “When you look in there, you’ll see it’s just four little dots all put together in such a way that it makes these colors.”

“I love it, because printing’s really just mental magic,” Harden added. “Those four dots create an image that your mind sees as this kid here.”

This little insight into AMA’s printing was very cool for two reasons: One, I would have never imagined that four colors could create thousands, but there I was seeing it in action. And two, Harden really exposed a passion for what he does in that quick conversation, which helped answer the question as to why AMA routinely prints out nothing but a quality product.

The final question: how do they always produce on time – really comes from within. There’s pride and passion to what Harden does, and AMA has provided him with the tools to succeed.

The printer ran like a well-oiled machine (suppose, because it is just that); the rollers spun; and the paper fed through the printer fast and smooth. Like clockwork, Shad moved around it, knowing exactly where to look to make sure everything was going to plan. When the printed sheets came out, they moved to a gigantic cutting machine that quickly and efficiently made smooth cuts to create a uniformed product. And off they went to a folding machine that I wish I would have a year ago when my wedding invitations went out.

The whole process was a beautiful mix of old and new school. Throughout the tour, we constantly walked by a state-of-the-art digital printer that AMA uses for some specific jobs, to the grit and grinding gears of the main printing machine. Harden, like an engineer on a train, moved from area to area, making tiny tweaks and subtle switches that made everything perfect.

For a company like ours, which blends traditional values of hard work and honesty with the new trends in media, this collaboration between IIMM and AMA is like cyan, magenta, black and yellow all coming together to create something truly beautiful.