Printing is a process for creating images. It can be used for many different applications, such as business cards, brochures, and even financial instruments. Some of the methods for printing include planographic printing and offset lithography. In each of these methods, an image is transferred to a plate using a photomechanical process. This plate is then attached to a cylinder on a printing press. The ink is then pushed through the stencil to create a print.
In the early days, printing was labor-intensive. A typewriter was often used to create images. However, the invention of movable type, which was invented in 1041 during the Song Dynasty, changed the nature of printing. Movable type could be assembled and disassembled for use on different surfaces, making it easier to print.
While movable type was not widely used in China until the European-style printing press was introduced relatively recently, it did spur scholarly pursuits and innovation. Initially, the lead that was used in completed print runs was melted and reclaimed for use in the composition process. As time went on, printing became an industry for artists and artisans.
Early printed works emphasized text and the line of argument. They were considered a form of education and were associated with individualism. Because of the accessibility of texts, a critical reading culture emerged. With this, literacy levels rose.
Several European countries introduced printing presses to revolutionize book production. These innovations allowed for millions of copies to be made per day. By the 1500s, Venice had 417 printers. Newspapers were also produced with hot-lead Linotype machines. Eventually, these presses were replaced with rolled paper and mass production of printed works grew.
Another innovation came in the mid-nineteenth century with the invention of the rotary press. This machine was made in the United States by Richard M. Hoe, and it enabled presses to run faster. Even after the invention of the rotary press, manual presses were still common. Despite their disadvantages, they were cheaper than the typewriter-like printers.
Other modern innovations are digital printing and flexographic printing. Digital printing allows for prints that are customized to your requirements. Unlike traditional printing processes, digital printing eliminates the need for making plates and films. Additionally, digital files are adjusted to ensure as few plates are required as possible for a particular print job.
The invention of movable type and a printing press revolutionized the world of books. As a result, the social and economic structures of European cities changed. The earliest “journeyman printers” were free to travel across Europe, and they set the type for each printed page.
Other innovations in printing were the introduction of a prospectus, which was given to potential buyers before a publication was published. This led to the creation of subscription publishing, which was English in origin. Subscriptions allowed for reprints if enough subscribers were available. Syndications were also invented, and they were often used for publications in the French and English languages.
Eventually, printing was adopted as a scientific process. In the thirteenth century, printing material in several different languages was discovered in Turfan. Marco Polo visited China, where he may have seen printed books. He may have brought this technology back to Europe.