The History Of Printing

The History of Printing

Printing has evolved so much over the last hundred years that we're now able to print 3-D objects. But before any type of printers were invented people in the past used many different techniques to record information and create piece of art.  At myPrinterInk, we have create a time line to show the history fo printing.

Woodblock Printing - AD 220

Woodblock printing was developed in East Asia, with the earliest woodblock fragments to survive from China in AD 220. It is the process of cutting away shards of wood using a knife, chisel or sandpaper, leaving the image to show in black. The image would then be transferred onto Textiles (later on paper after being influenced by Buddhism).

Movable Type System – 1040

The first movable type system was created in 1040 by Chinese man, Bi Sheng and was made out of ceramic clay, making it very fragile. The letters or characters were engraved, just like a stamp. One piece of type was used for each of the characters.

First Coloured Woodblock Printing – 1341

The first coloured woodblock printing known used three colours onto Chinese silk in the Han Dynastic. The first example of the coloured woodblock printing is a Diamond Sutra, again in China. It was printed in two colours, black and red at the Zifu Temple. The earliest dated book printed in more than two colours was in 1606 on ink-cakes called Chengshi Moyuan.

First Metallic Movable Type - 1377

The first metallic movable type was created were invented in Goryeo Dynasty in Korea. This was used to create a book on Korean Buddhist. This was printed seventy-eight years before Gutenberg’s own book on the bible.

First European Woodblock Coloured Printing – 1400s

It took Europe a lot longer to discover the woodblock printing. Around the 1400s, the woodblock printers were used to create playing cards and images. Then block books were created but they were never dated so were compared with documents with dates on. This was done by comparing watermarks on each paper. These findings suggest that it was at its peak in the 1460s. It was found that it was much cheaper to use the woodblock than the printing press but produced lower quality.

Gutenberg Press - 1440

The Printing Press was created by Johannes Gutenberg, a German blacksmith and goldsmith who later became a printer and publisher. A printing press applies pressure onto a surface which is inked upon a surface such as paper and cloth. Gutenberg used metal, such as lead and tin to create high quality prints. He created the 42-line Bible which became extremely popular but some of the characters are irregular. The Movable Type Printing Press spread across Europe and over twenty-three years a hundred and ten printers were produced.

First Printing Press in England - 1476

William Caxton moved to London to become an apprentice to a merchant. He later moved to Bruges, Belgium and became an important member in the Merchant Industry. After travelling around he found the new printing industry and was influenced from the German printing. He returned to Bruges and set up a press. In 1476 he returned to London and recreated the Press in Westminster.

Lithography Invented – 1796

It was invented by German author Alois Senefelder who wanted a cheaper method of producing theatrical works. Lithography uses materials such as oil, wax or fat drawn onto a smooth and level plate made out of limestone. The stone was treated with both acid and gum Arabic. The unprotected sections were then etched, and when moist they would hold water. Ink was then applied and would be repelled by the water, meaning it would only stick on the original drawing. The ink was then transferred to a blank sheet producing an image. It is now done by a polymer coating that is then applied to a flexible aluminium plate.

Chromolithography Invented - 1837

This is the same process on lithography but the image can also be applied on a zinc plate and also uses a printing press and paper to transfer the image. Chromolithography allows it to be printed in colour. It was the most successful colour printing methods developed in the 19th century.

Rotary Printing Press – 1843

Rotary drum printing press was invented by Richard March Hoe. This meant that prints could be made a lot quicker than the original flatbed. The cylinder used allowed printing to be done on long rolls of paper. It was patented in 1847.He also invented a rotary printing press that could print double sided in 1870.

Offset Press – 1875

This is where an image that is inked is transferred from a plate to a rubber top and then to the printing surface. This can be used in conjunction with the lithography process. It was patented in 1875 by Robert Barclay.

Photogravure Developed - 1878

Photogravure was developed in its mature form by painter Karel Klic. This is the process of a copper plate with gelatin tissue which is light-sensitive and was exposed to a film positive. It was then etched and can reproduce the detail of a photograph.

Typesetting invented -1884

Ottmar Mergenthaler, a German man invented the Linotype machine. It quickly become popular and was used to create anything from advertising to printing newspaper and books. It was a large machine with a keyboard that you typed the letters to form words. This process is still used by some today.

Xerography – 1938

This is a technique which uses dry photocopying and was invented by Hungarian man, Pal Selenyi. At first it was called electrophotography but later changed to Xerography which was adapted from the Greek roots.

InkJet Printing Device – 1951

It started off with R. Elmqvist of Siemens Elema from Sweden who patented the idea of InkJet in 1951. Then in the early 1950s Carl Hellmuth Hertz tried printing with droplets. In 1960s Dr Sweets from Stanford developed a process for continuously InkJet technology. He demonstrated how a stream of ink could be broken up into droplets using sound waves and steering to a target. The continuously InkJet technology was then developed to work in printers in the 1960s.Then in the late 1970s printers that could develop digital images were reproduced, mainly by the likes of HP, Cannon and Epson. InkJet printers are relatively cheap to buy and use low cost ink cartridges that are easy to replace.

Laser Printing invented – 1969

Gary Starkweather who worked in the product development department for Xerox had the genius idea of using a laser beam to draw an image of what was going to be copied onto the copier drum. He tested this out by adapting a Xerox 7000 copier with an control system and character generator, this later became the Xerox 9700 laser printer. The first laser printer designed to be used in an office was the Xerox Star 8010 in 1981. The system used a desktop metaphor and was not passed in commercial sales until the Apple Macintosh. A laser printer has excellent printing quality and fast printing speed.

3-D Printer Invented – 1983

At first the 3-D printer was in fact called Rapid Prototyping technologies. The patent was issued in 1986 to Charles Hull (co-founder to 3D Systems Corporation). This wasn’t the first application for a patent, as Dr Kodama, A Patent Lawyer filed for one but it wasn’t given in on time. A 3-D printer can be used today to create many items such as replacement parts, dolls etc. This is done by layering, it starts from the bottom and works its way up.

9th Dec 2015

Recent Posts