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Printing is an industrial process for reproducing copies of texts and images, typically with ink on paper using a printing press. It is an essential part of publishing.

Books are usually printed today using the technique of offset printing,and occasionally relief print, (which is principally used for newspapers and catalogues).

History of printing

Printing using a printing press dates back to the 15th century in Europe. The simple technique of printing using blocks had been developed and used centuries earlier in China. An example is the Diamond Sutra of AD 868, a Buddhist scripture, which is the earliest known dated work of block printing.

In Europe, printing was developed independently after long thought on how to speed up the process of book copying: Johann Gutenberg, of the German city of Mainz, invented the technical aspects of printing in 1450. Basing the design of his machine on a wine press, Gutenburg developed the use of raised and movable type and from the start used oil based paints.

The invention of the printing press revolutionized the spread of knowledge: a printing press was built in Venice in 1469, and the city had 417 printers by 1500. In 1476, a printing press was developed in England by William Caxton; in 1539, the Spaniard Juan Pablos set up an imported press in Mexico City, Mexico. Stephen Day built the first printing press in North America at Massachusetts Bay in 1628, and helped establish the Cambridge Press.

By the end of the 1400s, 1,000 new books were being published per year by Europe's book printers. By 1815, the number had climbed to 20,000 per year.

By contrast the wealthy city of Constantinople, under the Ottoman Turks, did not acquire its first printing press until the year 1726, and by 1815, the grand total of all the books published in Constantinople in the preceding 89 years was only 63 titles.

Computer printing

A document can also be printed by a laser printer, inkjet, or other computer printer. In recent years, computer printing and industrial printing processes have converged, leading to the development of digital printing.

The artistic process of printmaking is also known as printing, as is photographic printing.

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Last updated: 02-08-2005 16:17:33
Last updated: 02-26-2005 20:16:42