Printing is the art, process and business of producing books, newspapers and other printed material. The industry provides services which range from design to layout and to printing. The primary goal of printing is to convey a customer’s message in some form that will reach its audience. This can be done in the form of brochures, flyers, catalogs and product packaging.
Printing is a multi-step process that involves many different types of technology. For example, 3D printers work by melting and extruding plastic filament to create a model of an object. This model is then checked by software to ensure it will print correctly and then sent to the machine which makes the actual prints. Other printing technologies work by drawing or carving an image onto a surface, called a matrix – usually a block of wood or metal. The surface is then inked and this ink transfers to paper or another material when pressure is applied.
Other forms of printing include silk-screening, which uses a stencil to block parts of the screen which are impermeable and allow ink to pass through. Linotype, a now-obsolete typecasting system, used hot lead to make type according to instructions put into the machine by a compositor. When the type had been used for a newspaper, it was melted and re-used.
Modern printing is often a combination of several different techniques, such as offset, flexography and digital imaging and laser printing. It is common to use multiple color printing. In the past it was also common to use letterpress, which uses large mechanical presses to impose printed type and other elements into paper.