A printing machine is a device that prints ink on the surface of material such as cloth, paper or plastic with mechanical pressure. It makes transfer of historical records, scientific findings and knowledge easy and possible. In the modern industrial set up, printing machines have come a long way and they are now available in different sizes to cater to all kinds of printing requirements. Some are small enough to be used at home while others are large and are ideal for heavy-duty printing businesses or institutions.
The earliest printing machines were based on the old method of using movable type. Individual metal letters (called ‘type’) would be composed by a compositor into the desired lines of text, and several of these pages were then laid out in a wooden frame known as a galley. The compositors would then use two balls with pads mounted on them to ink the type and then run it across a flat stone known as the printing bed.
Later, two ideas altered the design of the printing machinery radically. Frederick Koenig and Andreas Bauer, German immigrants to England, patented in 1810 a machine that obtained an impression not by hand pressure but by rolling a sheet attached to a cylinder over the bed of type.
The sheet is held in place by sets of grippers, one pair of which resembles a miniature pair of pliers that grab part of the leading edge of the paper. Each gripper is adjusted to correspond with a particular ink key, and the press is started up and run at a low speed.