Printing is a technique for reproducing texts and images, usually with ink on paper. The printing press (which is now mostly a mechanical device) made it possible to mass produce printed documents, which in turn helped to change society by spreading information, ideas, and opinions.
The term is also used for any process of making duplicates of documents, such as in-house copying departments and quick-print shops. Today, this is usually done by means of electrostatic printing on photosensitive paper, where toner sticks to the page and is thermally fused on, but it may use other techniques such as xerography.
Non-paper products that have been printed include cylinder seals, wooden blocks used to carve letters into cloth or other materials (such as the woodcut prints of Albrecht Dürer), and etchings on metal plates. The invention of movable type in China in the late 14th century allowed for the printing of texts, including the bible, and facilitated new ways of exploiting the expressive and narrative potential of the medium, as demonstrated by the works of the Chinese artist Bi Sheng and others.
Some people think that printing is destined to disappear, but it is probably more accurate to say that it is losing some of its once-predominant roles to other audiovisual and information media. Radio scripts and television pictures report facts immediately but only fleetingly, while written documents and books offer the advantage of allowing for reflection. Even so, the vast majority of information remains available in written form.