The history of printing dates back to the start of printing presses, which dates back to 16th century. Printing evolved from being an art on wooden frames with movable type boards. Lithography was introduced in the 19th century by Elnaque de la Rouchfoucauld, who developed processes like binding, embossing and engraving. Later on, offset printing developed with the development of automatic machines to make more cost-effective printing. Modern printing techniques are used by printing companies worldwide to produce their products.
Most commonly, printing development uses offset lithography. With offset or digital lithography the image (the artwork) is printed directly to metal plates then from these plates onto a rubber surface. Then the images are transferred onto paper by using special machines called offset printing presses. The advantage of using this method over traditional printing is that you can produce large quantities of the same image.
Digital printing, or direct printing as it’s sometimes called, uses machines to reproduce the image directly onto paper without any additional material. A digital printer works by spraying ink onto the paper which then cures into the required pattern on the printing press. This is one of the most popular printing methods for the production of photo prints and small posters. It involves less waste, making it perfect for printing large quantities of text or images.
Both offset printing and digital printing have many advantages over traditional lithography such as the availability of large quantities of printable materials and a quick turnaround time. Digital printing also provides printers with a much wider gamut of colours to work with. However, the biggest disadvantage of digital printing is that it can be very expensive. The upfront printing costs may be too high for some printers and they cannot compete with the volume prices of large graphic printing companies. For smaller printers, where the financial outlay does not start to cover the expenses of running a business, the option of digital printing may be beyond the financial means of them.
Screen printing, by contrast, is a method of producing printed materials from an image – either a photograph or text – that has been sprayed on a specialised surface. Unlike dye-sublimation, screen printing does not mix colours; the colours are applied topically through the use of a coated roller tray. The roller tray transfers the ink from a ready-made pad to the surface to be printed. The most obvious advantage to screen printing over other printing processes is the speed with which it operates; the process can easily deliver high quality printed materials from one roll of ink in half an hour.
The two other common printing techniques used by businesses and individuals are lithography and digital printing. Lithography involves using a printing press to deposit solid ink on a substrate while digital printing involves the use of special equipment to apply the ink through a printing press. Both methods can be completed easily and quickly, but printing with lithography requires more material and is more costly. Digital printing techniques are often used to produce photographic images. They are faster to complete and less expensive to implement than other techniques.
As you can see, there are many printing techniques available throughout Europe. This is a wide open market, which is capable of delivering products to meet any budget or specification. In order to get the best results, it is important to use a company that can demonstrate previous experience and a good track record. Do not be tempted to work with a company that cannot provide proof of previous work or experience. This could lead to substandard printed materials or a bad outcome. It is also important to choose a printing company that will be able to assist you throughout the process, from design development, to the printing and production stages.
If you are looking to print some materials in the 15th century, a screen press or movable type press is a good choice. These are easy to use and you can find them in many specialist printing workshops. Presses of this type are generally low cost and versatile. You can use single or double width, and variable width designs to suit your needs.