Sublitex Guided Tour

sarah design

By Sarah Glyn-Woods


The other week I had a flying visit to Sublitex. I thought you might like to see where it all happens.

The office block houses the commercial and administration staff. Manuela and I are grinning cheesily at you!



A beautiful smile from Claudia in the studio where designs are developed either for engraving or digital printing. Sublitex have their own fashion and home furnishing collections as well as producing many custom designs from client supplied artwork.


When an order for an engraved design is placed, the design colour standard is taken out. These are stored in enormous towers which contain hundreds of thousands of references.


Each standard is marked with the date of the first production run which creates the standard to which the colour way will always be matched to limit variation over time. The colour blocks correlate to the full and tones of the colour printed by each cylinder. These are read by a spectrometer and this information is sent to the colour kitchen.


The inks used by Sublitex are modified disperse dyes suspended in ethanol. No water is used and all unused ink is recuperated and batched. Each new print run will start by locating the nearest recuperated inks stored in the numbered drums. The colours will then be adjusted to match to the reading taken by the spectrometer.


The cylinders are again located in fully automated storage towers. There are over 16,000 cylinders in the plant. When a design is to be printed the cylinders must be taken out and queue up…..


This is a queue of cylinders waiting their turn to roll. They are on hydraulic beds in order to move them around the plant. The cylinders are solid steel cores with a copper outer layer into which the design is engraved. This is then chrome plated to protect the soft copper. Each cylinder has a cardboard sheaf for protection.


This is one of the high speed gravure printing presses, highly automated where the operator watches a bank of screens to monitor the cylinder alignment and can quality control the print run. The photograph is pretty awful as the paper was moving so so fast through the press. There was dreadful hooter noise at the end of each print run.


The MS LaRio digital machine is programmed to print predetermined colourways. Jumbo rolls of paper are let off in to the printing area. This always reminds me of an underground train. Again the paper was exiting so fast that the pictures are blurred and from here it is further dried, rolled up and boxed. Digital printing does not require cylinders nor a colour kitchen nor the time and labour involved.


Sublitex use a variety of smaller machines for producing samples which they can match either digitally or with gravure printing. The machines are profiled to work together and here you can see the digital and gravure standards being checked for the quality of the reproduction. Sublitex are the leaders in this technology and Ettore gave me a fascinating tour of the plant.

By having both the latest high speed digital and gravure capabilities Sublitex can offer clients the most comprehensive creative yet economic print solutions. I was really proud to be a member of this forward thinking team.


This is the truck that leaves every day at 10.00 and 14.00 hours taking the paper to the logistics centre M2Log. This is in another town and from here the paper is distributed to various transport companies.

I hope this gives you a flavour as to how things work at Sublitex.


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