Printing is a method for mass printing of images and text using a printing press. Early printing methods included lithography, which used water-based inks to print text. Lithography underwent a change during the nineteenth century with the development of the solvent-based printing methods. Most printing processes in the twentieth century are based on the inkjet or thermal printing technologies. Modern printing machines include inkjet printers, laser printers and toner printers. Printer inks are generally composed of pigments that react to a solution (or resin) under appropriate conditions.
The earliest non-printing devices involved sealing cylinders and objects like the Cyrus Cylinder, which was printing using oil. A number of industries, including the printing industry, have benefited from the development of printing machines and the materials they use. Printers today have various options for printing, and a great deal of flexibility is available in printing devices. Many printers now use color cartridges, and inks that contain various types of inks (colors) that can be chosen for particular printing tasks. One can use special cartridges for printing black-and-white documents, for example, while using different colors for images and other visual content.
Digital printing, also known as dot-matrix printing, uses a computer-controlled ink ribbon, and the term “digital printing” often refers to the method of printing where a file (such as a Word document) is produced by using inkjet printers. Dot-matrix printers are suitable for printing documents in color and can be combined with inkjet or laser printers for printing black-and-white text. In inkjet printing, solid ink is forced onto the paper, whereas in laser printing, coated paper is coated with inkjet fluid (sometimes with other chemicals) at a very high temperature. Most printing presses used in the printing industry today employ both methods.
A printer can be grouped into several main categories, depending on how it works and what its main functions are. The main three categories are printing, publishing, and photo printing. Each of these has its own specific name, but broadly they can be thought of as the more “general” roles of a printer. When you see the complete definitions of each of these roles, you will see how each one works in various situations.
Printing refers to the act of producing written, spoken, and printed information. Printing presses first mention printing in reference to this act of producing printouts in the 14th century. The first printed books were created using movable type presses. In other words, the process of printing has been around since long before the printing press was invented.
Offset printing is similar to printing except that instead of printing on a printing plate, it uses an offset machine. The printing plates would have been moved manually over a piece of metal or clay. The metal or clay would have been heated until the printing plates were ready. When the plates were pressed, ink would have been driven down into the plate from above, or from special devices mounted beneath the printing machine itself.
Digital printing machines are very different in that the printing plate is not heated. Instead, it is electronically engraved with designs and text. Digital printing is used extensively in the production of printed documents like books, magazines, brochures, and websites.
Screen printing also has some similarities with the offset printing process. It involves the use of different types of media, such as dye-sublimation, heat transfer, and electronic ink printing. Unlike the offset printer, screen printers do not move the printing media; rather, the screen is simply electrically charged so that images are printed directly on the surface of the media. Both types of printing are commonly used in home printing to produce text, graphics, and photographs.