Generally speaking, printing is a process that involves the mass reproduction of text, images, or any other graphic material. The process involves the use of a template, a printing plate, and a printing press. The printing plate is a durable surface that is pressed against paper or other materials to produce an image. The process can be repeated as many times as needed.
In its earliest form, printing involved applying ink to a block of stone. The greasy ink would adhere to the greasy areas of the block and the image would be painted over the top. In the 15th century, woodcut printing became the standard for printing images on paper. It was adopted by European textiles and books, as well as playing cards and bibles.
In the 19th century, a printer named Ottmar Mergenthaler invented the Linotype typesetting machine. His machine was patented in the United States.
In the early 15th century, German artists began using woodcut printing to reproduce images on paper. Artists such as Albrecht Durer produced woodcut prints of scenes from the Passion of Christ.
The printing process was later modified to include a relief process. This was a variation on woodcut, as the image would be built up on the printing block, rather than cut out. It is also called xylography.
The printing process has been a catalyst for social change and the accumulation of knowledge. It has also helped engender television, radio, film, tape recording, and microfilm.