Letterpress printing

Letterpress printing is a technique of relief printing. Using a printing press, the process allows many copies to be produced by repeated direct impression of an inked, raised surface against sheets or a continuous roll of paper.[1] A worker composes and locks movable type into the "bed" or "chase" of a press, inks it, and presses paper against it to transfer the ink from the type, which creates an impression on the paper.

The general form of letterpress printing with a platen press shows the relationship between the forme (the type), the pressure, the ink, and the paper.
A printer inspecting a large forme of type on a cylinder press. Each of the islands of text represents a single page. The darker blocks are images. The whole bed of type is printed on a single sheet of paper, which is then folded and cut to form many individual pages of a book.

In practice, letterpress also includes other forms of relief printing with printing presses, such as wood engravings, photo-etched zinc "cuts" (plates), and linoleum blocks, which can be used alongside metal type, or wood type in a single operation, as well as stereotypes and electrotypes of type and blocks.[2] With certain letterpress units, it is also possible to join movable type with slugs cast using hot metal typesetting. In theory, anything that is "type high" and so forms a layer exactly 0.918 in. thick between the bed and the paper can be printed using letterpress.[3]

Letterpress printing was the normal form of printing text from its invention by Johannes Gutenberg in the mid-15th century to the 19th century and remained in wide use for books and other uses until the second half of the 20th century. Letterpress printing remained the primary means of printing and distributing information until the 20th century, when offset printing was developed, which largely supplanted its role in printing books and newspapers. More recently, letterpress printing has seen a revival in an artisanal form.


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This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Letterpress printing, and is written by contributors. Text is available under a CC BY-SA 4.0 International License; additional terms may apply. Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.