What is Letterpress Printing?

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What is Letterpress Printing? – Art

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Letterpress printing is the oldest form of printing – some may even call it ancient. In the earliest letterpress printing applications ink was wiped over raised metal letters that were then pressed onto the substrate or media to be printed. Most newspapers, books and labels were printed using such a method. Today the plates used are of hard polymer rather than metal.However, letterpress printing modernised slightly with the use of letters on a roller rather than a flat bed. They were still raised from the bed of the roller and ink was wiped over them with a blade. The inks still need to be quite thick so that they will stay on the letters and not run off causing smudges, blemishes or blanks. Having the roller made the whole process much quicker. Letterpress printing was invented by Johannes Gutenberg and was the original means of printing anything right from the 15th century through to the middle of the 1940s. Letterpress printing is still used for newspapers, though it is gradually being replaced by more modern and cost effective printing solutions such as Flexography and Offset. However there seems to be a rise in popularity for smaller letterpress printers for use in craft or hobby applications, small print runs requiring high quality print and certain other items such as fancy invitations.In the right hands, letterpress printing gives a beautiful finish, though is somewhat limited as using colour is difficult – though not impossible. The beauty of letterpress printing is that other substrate such as handmade paper, organic paper and even tree free paper can be used successfully. Rather than using metal that can be costly, letterpress printers are now able to access more affordable plates made from magnesium, copper or photopolymer and bases of milled aluminium which can be used to produce images and type from digital artwork and fonts. A number of institutions now teach the art of using letterpress correctly.

About the Author

Printing Press is a freelance printer helping people to print their small needs.

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