Printmaking dates all the way to the 618 ad during the T’ang Dynasty in china where they developed the woodblock printing technique a technique that uses ink on blocks to then print images, text and patterns. This technique allowed for the first full length book complete with illustration and text to be created known as the diamond sutra.
Fast forward around 800 years and block printing has reached Europe at this point Europe has started making paper. They began using block printing to produce books as well. this then developed into the Europeans using metal plates for printing using movable metal types which lead to a man called Gutenberg printing the bible later. Movable type printing is the system of printing and typography that uses movable components to reproduce the elements of a document. The invention of printing with movable type in Europe in the 1450s revolutionised the production, movement and distribution of books. Printing could produce the familiar look of hand-written books in a fraction of the time, at a significantly reduced cost and in far greater numbers(referenced from the link below). This would influence printing for the generations to come.
Fast forward another 200 years (1642) where the Germans developed the distinctive Mezzotint printmaking technique. This is when you print on copper or steel plate that has been work over also known as grounded using rocker (a semi-circular fine-toothed tool) so that the entire surface is roughened. After this is done when inked the plate will print solid black. The design is then created by scraping down and polishing areas of the plate. These will hold less ink and so print more lightly than the unpolished areas. The result is that the earliest impressions are the finest and print very dark with strong definition whereas later ones are noticeably fainter.
Lithography was invented by Alois Senefelder in the Kingdom of Bavaria in 1796. In the early days of lithography the design was drawn or painted onto a polished or grained flat surface of Bavarian limestone with a greasy ink. The design was then fixed onto the stone where a weak solution of gum Arabic would be applied. During printing the stone would be flooded with water which in turn would be absorbed everywhere except where repelled by the greasy ink. Oil-based printer ink was then rolled on the stone which in turn was repelled by the water-soaked areas and accepted only by the drawn design. Then a piece of paper would be laid onto the stone and which in turn would then be ran through the press with light pressure, the final print showing neither a raised nor embossed quality but lying entirely on the surface of the paper.
During the 18th Century Screen Printing appeared in Europe. Screen Printing uses a stencil over paper or textiles, and ink, of course to create beautiful and intricate designs or to depict an image. Even though screen printing is thought of as appearing in the 1700s, the Chinese actually were doing it over 2000 years ago. They used human hair stretched across a wooden frame to form the screen, and to this they attached a stencil made from leaves stuck together into different shapes.(for more on screen printing look #screenprinting blog).
Fast forward another 100 years printing has reached its industrial age and around the 1840’s an inventor Richard hoe designed a rotary printing press a press that used a metal cylinder instead of a flat stone. The offset cylinder was covered with specially treated cardboard that transferred the printed image from the stone to the surface of the metal. Later, the cardboard covering of the offset cylinder was changed to rubber, which is still the most commonly used material. 60 years later it was discovered that when printing from a rubber roller instead of the metal one the printed page was clearer and sharper this would later develop and be refined into the offset printing we use today.
We fast forward into the 20th century where we have now entered the age of digital printing where you could now print digital images from a computer. In 1951 the concept of inkjet printer was developed this is a type of computer printing allowed you to recreate a digital image by spraying droplets of ink onto paper, plastic, or other substrates. Starting in the late 1970s inkjet printers that could reproduce digital images generated by computers were developed.
During the same time the laser printer was being developed. laser printing is when A laser beam projects an image of the page to be printed onto an electrically charged, selenium-coated, rotating, cylindrical drum. It produces high-quality text and graphics by repeatedly passing a laser beam back and forth drawing the d
ocument over a negatively charged cylinder called a “drum”. After the drum is charged, it is rolled in toner an electrically charged dry powder type of ink. The toner adheres to the charged image on the drum. The toner is transferred onto a piece of paper and fused to the paper with heat and pressure. After the document is printed, the electrical charge is removed from the drum and the excess toner is collected.
(Note: most of this was only loosely ref
erenced from these sites and grouped with my previous knowledge
for history of printing timeline in more detail look up: http://visual.ly/printing-history-timeline
for movable metal type lookup: http://www.library.manchester.ac.uk/firstimpressions/From-Manuscript-to-Print/Technology-of-the-Book/Movable-metal-type/
for movable type printing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Movable_type
for mezzotint: https://www.britannica.com/art/printmaking#ref397191
for inkjet printing: http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/inkjet-printer
for laser printing: http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/laser-printer