The process of reproducing text and images, usually on paper.
Printing is a broad term for a number of techniques for making texts and illustrations on paper in various forms, including books, newspapers, textiles, plates, packaging, and billboards. In addition, printing may be used for manufacturing miniature electronic circuits.
Traditionally, printing was the application under pressure of a certain quantity of colouring agent onto a specified surface to form a body of text or an illustration. Today, however, certain modern processes are no longer dependent on the mechanical concept of pressure or on the material concept of colouring agent.
Intaglio is the most common method of creating a print from a plate, with a dry ink impression standing up from the paper in slight relief. Intaglio methods have a long tradition in art, and some of the world’s most famous prints are intaglio prints.
Letterpress is another technique that produces a print from a metal plate. Unlike the etching method, lines are cut directly into the plate without first being bitten by an acid bath. The result is a soft blurred effect that is reminiscent of drypoint.
The invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in 15th century Europe made the production of printed books and other documents possible. Since then, it has played a crucial role in the development of modern society and has remained an important technology for mass multiplication of information.
Although it has been largely superseded by new audiovisual and information media, printing has continued to play an important role in the dissemination of knowledge. It has helped to shape changes in social relations and economic transformations, and it has facilitated the transmission of information throughout most countries.