Printing has been a method for mass reproduction of images and text using an ink roller or press form. The earliest non-printed commercial products featuring printing technology were cylinder seals used by merchants to create impressions on metal items such as the Cyrus Cylinder or the Cylinders of Nabonidsus. Printing for artisans became widespread towards the end of the seventeenth century, when printing fixtures were developed for engraving decorative patterns on metals for personal or professional use.
Commercial printing developed from different models based on the printer ink that was required. The first printers used water-based inks, including the blackest black, the darkest blue, or a variety of other available colors. The first mechanical printing devices were powered by steam engines and operated by a manual clockwork mechanism, but in time industrial printing developed along with improvements in printing technology. In recent decades, digital printers have become more affordable options for home and small-business use, and now most printers are fitted with inkjet or laser technology.
Print shop utilize three basic types of printing technology for the printing of large quantities of printed materials: inkjet printing, offset printing, and direct printing. Inkjets are the most common type of printer. It works by spraying an inkjet fluid onto paper or other surfaces, where it hardens into a solid, uniform form. The solid ink is transferred directly to paper with the help of a tiny roller or other device. The solid ink is sensitive to heat and must be printed using a heat-sensitive printer. This type of printing is ideal for short runs, because it saves on time and printing costs.
In offset printing, computer-controlled machines transfer printed material from a special paper roll onto a special substrate. The substrate is coated with a special adhesive, so that the printouts stay put once they are rolled out. The majority of offset printers are set up to perform a variety of different printing tasks, such as solid ink printing, spot coloring, and even hologram printing. With today’s technology, even traditional black and white printing can be completed in a number of different methods. Some printers combine several different printing techniques to give you different finished products, such as full-color brochures, brochure-style folders, or even electronic PDF documents.
Direct printing, which uses a pressurized, controlled stream of ink delivered through a specific nozzle, is generally more expensive than inkjet or laser printing. However, it is perfect for short runs or single pages. Because it uses a direct method of printing, you do not have to wait for the ink to dry before printing. You can immediately begin working on the printing task once you receive your files.
The third kind of printing press is called a portable type. Portable presses usually deliver printed materials quickly and easily through their individual hopper or tray, allowing you to quickly move the materials to the new location once you are done with your project. For companies that often run out of space or need to print only a limited number of materials, this option is perfect.