Printing is the process of reproducing the application of text and imagery onto any given medium. The most common form of printing in the modern era involves applying ink to paper via an automated machine such as a printing press.One early form of printing was woodblock printing, a technique that would involve carving a wooden block to the desired pattern. This technique was widely adopted across Asia and was most commonly used to print onto textiles.
Another early form of printing was called movable type printing. This system used metal type pieces rather than wooden ones, a technique that proved to be far more durable, more consistent and much faster. This superiority was best demonstrated by the quality and relatively low price of the Gutenberg Bible published in 1455.
The widespread adoption of printing was fuelled by the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg himself around 1440. He was a German goldsmith who fused existing pressing devices with printing technologies from China, as well as his own expert knowledge of metals to create a device that could reproduce documents at a rapid rate.
His invention allowed for the relatively cheap distribution of printed material which would become a vital asset for the sharing of ideas throughout the scientific community. The Gutenberg press was still largely unchanged almost 300 years later in the lead up to the Industrial Revolution which is a testament to the success of his design.
Modern printing uses a process called offset printing. Offset printing involves the transference of ink from a plate to a rubber blanket, which then transfers it to the material to be printed on. This technique allows incredibly fast printing times and is the technique used to print most modern books and newspapers.
Other common printing techniques include screen printing which is used to print onto a wide range of materials, and inkjet and laser printing which are both commonplace in an office environment.