Printing is a process of creating an image or text on a durable surface such as paper or textiles. In traditional printing, the image is drawn or painted with ink and then transferred to another surface.
Traditionally, the printing process uses a greasy ink, which adheres to greasy areas of the paper. The image is then washed with gum arabic, a naturally occurring gum from the sap of acacia trees.
Printing has helped shape social change. It has also served as a monopoly for the storage and transmission of information. This has been important in facilitating changes in society, made possible by changes in technology and economic development.
Early “journeyman printers” were free to print anywhere. This allowed them to travel and set their type.
The invention of movable type changed the nature of printing. Instead of using a block of stone, hardened clay or lead to draw the text, the type could be glued to an iron plate. As needed, it could be broken up and redistributed.
The concept of printing developed in the early 15th century. Lead types were used in East Asia and China. However, in Europe, the process was largely based on a limited number of abstract symbols.
The emergence of printing was a part of the great discoveries movement. It was believed that it would enhance the power of monarchs. Although it is uncertain when and where printing originated, it is likely that Marco Polo introduced printing to Europe.