Printing has changed the lives of millions worldwide ever since its origins in 200.
The method used in these times was Woodblock printing. With the advancements of technology, we have now progressed to Digital printing, first being used in 1991. With multiple methods being used, let’s take a look at the most popular methods of printing over the years.
Earlier Methods (200 - 1515)
The first documented form of printing came in the 200’s where the Chinese first came up with ‘Woodblock printing’ and was widely used throughout Eastern Asia. The techniques involved included rubbing, stamping as well as ‘presses’ however, these were rarely used as they were slightly harder to obtain. None the less, this was the most commonly used method of printing until 1040, where the ‘Movable type’ came into play. This sped up the process of printing by introducing movable components. Jikji is currently the oldest, existing extant movable metal print book, being created in 1377!
The most notable method of printing was the introduced to the world in 1440 and this is arguably one of the most common methods of printing today! The ‘Printing Press’ was publicised and was invented by the German Johannes Gutenberg. With this technology being developed, it has gone on to become the foundation of printing.
Middle Ages (1796 – 1900)
‘Lithography’ was first introduced in 1796 where the principle of the printing is based on the immiscibility of oil and water. The positive part of an image is water-repelling whilst the negative image would be water-retaining creating an image on a material. Lithography is also commonly used to print text as well.
With the invention of ‘Rotary Press’ and the ‘Hectograph’, the next major printing method that was created was ‘Offset Printing’ in 1875. ‘Offset printing’ is where the inked image is transferred from a plate to a rubber layer and then on to the printing surface. This first method of ‘Offset’ was used to print on tin by Robert Barclay of England, however it was the American Ira Washington Rubel who decided to use this method to print on paper.
Modern Day Methods (1901 – Present)
As technology has advanced, we have also developed the processes of printing as well as what we can print on. With the most common method of printing being invented in 1951, ‘Inkjet Printing’ is used to print everyday documents, newspapers, reports and images. The common household printer uses ‘Inkjet’ as their method of printing using droplets of ink to recreate a digital image.
Between 1951 and 1991, ‘Dye-sublimation’, ‘Dot matrix printing’, ‘Laser printing’, ‘Thermal printing’ and ‘3D printing’ were created before we reached our most technological advanced form of printing: ‘Digital printing’. It isn’t too dissimilar to inkjet or offset printing however, the quick turnaround of printing time allows for mass, high-quality printing of digital images.
With printing changing over the course of time, so has the quality of the final products. We can now print on a range of materials using a variety of methods such as plastics, metals, wood and more. Which process do you think has been the most influential to shaping printing as we know it?