What is Printing

It is known as printing technique of reproducing texts and images on paper, cloth or other materialsin large quantities, which makes use of type and printing plates.

It is also called as printing workshop where prints are made.

Printing is a technique that has been developed and has been used since Ancient Rome, around 440 BC, when impressions were made on pieces of clay. Later, in China, between 1041 and 1048, the first type of rice paper printing press was invented, using porcelain movable types.

However, in the year 1450, fifteenth century, the invention of the modern printing press is attributed to the German Johannes Gutenberg, who in turn developed the craft of printing. typographywhich refers to the selection and use of types.

However, it is worth mentioning that, although no records have been found with the name of Gutenberg regarding his authorship in the invention of the modern printing press, its creation is also assigned to him thanks to his interest and effort for the improvement of this technique that , simplifies the text reproduction system and saves working time.

modern Gutenberg printing press

The printing press created by Gutenberg arose from the adaptation of a press that was used to squeeze the juice from grapes with which, later, wine was made.


Hence, the printing press began as an artisanal work, which consisted of placing two metal plates on which the types, molds of the letters of the alphabet made of wood and iron that were impregnated with oily ink, were carefully placed.

Only the spaces of the capital letters and the drawings that were later made through the woodcut technique or by hand in each printed copy were left blank.

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Once the plates and type were in the correct order and secured to the press support, the paper was placed and the plates pressed so that the text was printed.

In this way, Gutenberg modified the reproduction of texts and the possibility of placing knowledge at the mercy of a significant number of peoplewhich generated a great cultural impact.

With Gutenberg’s printing press the working time and the years it took to reproduce the copy were reduced of a book made by hand, even by individuals who did not know how to read or write. The reproduction of texts began to be carried out in a mechanized and faster way to obtain a greater number of copies.

The process of the invention of the printing press began when Gutenberg made a bet that he could make a greater number of copies of the Bible at one time in less time than manuscript reproduction.

However, Gutenberg was unable to complete his project due to lack of time and money. His lender, Johannes Fust, lent him money once. Then, after a second request for money, Fust refused but proposed the creation of a company that remained under the responsibility of Peter Schöffer, his son-in-law.

Two years later Gutenberg needed money again and his partner Fust refused to give it to him, so he had to withdraw from his printing press when he was close to completing the proposed 150 copies of the book. Bible. Therefore, Shöffer was in charge of the press and finished the printings, which were quickly sold.

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However, it is Gutenberg who is recognized for the printed work of the first copies of the Biblealthough it is said that in the year 1450, he had already made the Constance Missal.

Evolution of the printing press

Currently, the printing technique has ceased to be an artisan process to become a technique that uses technological developments to print and reproduce content through mechanisms such as screen printing, lithography and other digital printing methods.

Among the most used printing techniques are the following:

  • Offset: It is the most widely used printing process, it works from typographic plates and enables color printing.
  • Rotary: refers to the presses of newspapers and other print media. These printing presses are characterized by having mobile rollers and hundreds of printed sheets are reproduced.
  • Digital: refers to the laser or inkjet prints common to portable printers.

In this sense, the printing press has been one of the most important inventions in the history of man, since it has allowed the spread of knowledge and the sharing of innumerable literary works.

See also: Lithography.