Essentially, a printing machine is a device that transfers ink on a substrate that is either paper or plastic. Different types of printing machinery are used for different printing applications. Some of the common types of printing machines include intaglio presses, offset lithography, flexo, and letterpress.
Intaglio presses are used for engraving, mezzotint, aquatint, and lino printing. These machines consist of two heavy rollers that require user control. They can also be used for drypoint, aquatint, and etching.
Offset lithography is a printing process that produces fine images. It is typically used for high-volume printing of gift wraps, posters, greeting cards, magazines, and wallpaper. But the process is also useful for long-run printing of prints on fabric, cardboard, and wallpaper.
Flexo printing is a modern variation of letterpress. Originally developed to print on corrugated cardboard, these machines are very simple to operate and can print on a wide variety of materials. The inks used in this process are quick drying, semi-liquid inks.
Traditionally, there are two types of printing machines: roller and sheetfed. Roller machines are used more often than sheetfed presses. Rolls of paper are rolled across the press and ink is transferred to the substrate.
Sheetfed presses are used to print a single color or a series of colors at once. Usually, black, cyan, and magenta are printed first, followed by yellow.
Nipping presses are great for block and relief printing. This type of machine is a great solution for lino printing. However, it can be a challenge to provide sufficient pressure for block printing.