How Maps are Created from Cartography to Map Folding

Every map created is unique, presenting special challenges to the cartographer. Different in scale, physical form, as well as in subject matter, color and graphics, covering city blocks to the wide world, each of the endless types of maps produced worldwide undergoes a similar creation process, from data sourcing to map folding.

No Matter the Map, Key Things Must Be Considered
Whether nautical, topographical, navigational, thematic or statistical, there are certain key things a cartographer must consider before even beginning work on a map. These decisions and details are essential, serving as the roadmap of the creation and printing process. Among them:

● Subject matter and study area.

● Scale and projection.

● Symbols and positioning.

● Printing process (4-color, B&W, Pantone, etc.).

● Final printed size and substrate.

● Coatings, varnishes or lamination techniques.

● Desired folding/binding techniques.

● Packaging & shipping.

● Deadline requirements.

● Confirming the possibility of ALL of the above with your printer before moving forward, to avoid costly mistakes and added labor.

Though Creative Process May Vary, Print Process Remains the Same
After essential mapmaking decisions are made, creation can commence. Base maps can be purchased digitally, downloaded from the web or scanned, with design commencing via color mapping, desktop publishing software or GIS integration. New details are added, and design ensues. After the file is completed, it will be just a few short weeks moving through the printing process to the fruition of the design.

Staying on the Straight & Narrow
 Once designs are completed, digital files are submitted via PDF or other compatible format, and proofs are generated. At MapPrinter, this involves a G7 certified process, utilizing an Epson 9900 Color Plotter to produce a color-matched proof which will be identical to the final, printed piece. Communication here is essential. Color issues must be addressed now, within the digital file, before moving forward. A second, lower resolution proof is also produced and folded as will be the final map. Both versions are delivered locally, or shipped via overnight delivery for proofing and approval. 
 Perfecting Print Results

 Approved files are sent to press. MapPrinter’s Komori G40 8-color HUV printing press with stochastic screening technology achieves crisp, clean printing with a high-resolution 20 micron dot, and is the press of choice for most projects. Speedy and green, its special HUV curing process presents no dry-back issues, allowing for the immediate movement of maps from printing to cutting and folding.

Wrapping Things Up
 After printing, specialty folding machines, the kind only seen at a custom map printing shop, are put into play, folding maps up into neat and tidy packages. Up to 10 parallel folds and 6 horizontal folds can be added in total. From here, maps are prepped for shipment, shrink-wrapped and boxed as specified, or shipped flat on skids sandwiched between sheets of plywood for protection, then shipped via freight. The entire process, from start to finish, is skillfully accomplished in as little as 1–3 weeks.

At the start of your map printing journey? At MapPrinter, we know the process can be overwhelming, especially for those new to the industry. We’re happy to help you ensure a smooth path to success. Contact us before beginning your map printing journey today.