What is a printing press

In its strictest sense, to speak of the printing press, refers us to a means in principle mechanical, conceived for the reproduction of texts and images, firstly on paper, cardboard, cloth and even other materials; in its most ancient and classic version, it consists of the application of an ink almost always of oily character on metallic pieces also called ”types”, which are presented as the key in the work of this machine that marked a before and an after in different aspects of the medieval society up to the modern one.

The use of the printing press began in a handmade way, however, with the passage of the centuries, it has passed to make the unequivocal point of inflection by means of which it gave way to the massification of the written communication, giving way to the cultural revolution in the whole world.

Its creation in the year 1400 represented the way to the evolution of diverse methods of printing and also of reproduction including flexology, serigraphy, hollow engraving, electronic photography, lithography, offset printing method and all the digital cutting technology.

The above are some of the most important and visible aspects of what is, has been and will be the printing press, devised by Johannes Gutenberg a German goldsmith who is credited with the creation of the first printing machine, although according to some less orthodox before him, there were in China and the ancient Roman Empire the first attempts at creating a machine of such nature and that this German only perfected the technique.

The undeniable fact is that although others at different times have set in motion small printing rigs, who managed to transcend this in time was this ”forerunner of letters” who with his machine gave way to another way of interpreting the written texts and that place can not be removed by anyone: Gutenberg.

Who invented the printing press:

In this particular, we expose some data of this genius, who before giving a change to the course of his life worked as a goldsmith working gold and other precious metals, working as director of the mint of his city.

According to historical data the famous creator was born between 1394 and 1399, and it was there, in his native land and within his family where he was initiated in the noble art of handling precious metals, and in the casting of punches (very used at the time) and it is believed that it was his work in the making of this type of articles that stimulated him to try and create an apparatus with the aim of minting other material, inspiring him to carry out its later creation.

After these unpleasant incidents, he became associated with two wealthy citizens of the time, Hans Riffe and Andreas Heilmann, who were dedicated to carving gems and polishing mirrors, work that he taught them in exchange for an amount of money.

Some time later he was discovered by his associates who insisted on participating in the so mysterious work that he had between hands, Gutenberg agreed to share the information in good way since he needed money, and signed a contract in the year of 1438 in which it stipulated, that the newly included would pay him the amount of 125 florins.

After the sudden death of some of his associates, his heirs went to court and asked for part of the fruits of the mysterious business; the court of that city asked for evidence and several witnesses stated that on many occasions in the workshops in which Gutenberg was, work was done at night and day.

Those who testified that it was not possible to know for certain, but that they saw them buying lead in a continuous way, affirmed that in addition in those facilities they had a press, they also had molds of smelting, but that it was not known in reality with which purpose all this material was gathered, in that workshop.

All these stories raised suspicions in some, and curiosity in others, everyone then wanted to know what happened between those four walls in which a pioneer of printed letters, gave shape and figure to what in just a few years would be his masterpiece.

The more we delve into the creation of the printing press, the more and better we understand the importance of the works of its creator made in the aforementioned city of Strasbourg, emphasizing that none of the attempts he made before achieving its end was the product of improvisation, all were preceded by intense research, not only framed in the technical and mechanical principles of the invention in question, but also in the possible resolutions to previous failures, accompanied by the insistence of a confident man and totally convinced of obtaining the expected results, thus giving an example to the society of the time, in terms of its persevering discretion, virtues with which he set out to achieve his objectives.

In this city he remained at least until 1444, information that confirms his inscription in the census of population, in which all the young men of the city were registered in order to defend it before the attack of the troops of the count Armagnac.

Later this year, we lose track of him, then find him again in his hometown four years later, where he went again in search of money, through moneylenders.

Despite not having much fame as a good administrator, his reputation as a printer had reached the fame enough to go to a wealthy bourgeois named Johann Fust and obtain from his hand the amount of 800 guilders (equivalent to 10 years’ salary) accepting as a guarantee only a handful of tools, years later this millionaire and Gutenberg became partners and thus constituted the first printing press in the modern sense, also with the very valuable collaboration of a calligrapher of great talent trained in Paris.

The business in question was working, in fact began to increase the number of orders that were requested daily, so and appreciating a somewhat slow progress of completion of orders, began to demand speed from his partner, who responded that he preferred perfection rather than quantity, an issue that fostered some disagreements between the two partners.

The Bible, the masterpiece of the printing press

In 1455, according to some historians, with the patience and thoroughness that characterized him, the tireless researcher culminated what until today is considered the most important work of printing. The first edition was called the ”42 lines” not because it occupied that space, in any way, but because it responded to the name of a technique, because this was the most frequent number of lines per column, in each of the 1280 pages that it condensed.

To carry it out was not at all a simple matter, on the contrary; to make it a reality, it was necessary to found almost five million types, with which 120 copies were published on paper and 20 on parchment, of which today are preserved as jewels with incalculable value 33 of one and 13 of the second, respectively.

In spite of his turbulent personal life, he was an advanced character, ahead of his time, perseverant in his objectives and an irreplaceable historical referent.

After many economic setbacks, including the betrayal of his associates, he was again ruined, so he took refuge in a monastery, where he found the selfless help of the archbishop of his city, who also provided him with material to set up a small workshop, exempted him from paying taxes and provided him with an annual pension which consisted of clothing, grain and wine.

Johannes Gutenberg died on February 3, 1467, according to the testimony of a Franciscan monk, was buried there in his hometown in a local church, which was later destroyed by artillery fire, almost two centuries later and with it his tomb.

His name will never be forgotten and his legacy has been part of the construction of the modern society, which evolved, transformed and diversified through this creation, and in spite of what some detractors may say (talking about the work of its creator) has no comparison, it has never stopped, on the contrary it has adapted to the social and technological development of humanity, giving way to modern versions of this device with handcrafted origin, almost completely eliminating the process of manual processing over the centuries, automating the way of working and projecting the printing industry to the almost infinite multiplication of texts and images, subjecting it to new techniques such as offset printing and digital which we will discuss below.

Types of printing

The printer in a matter of years was developed, successors of its creator devised new ways to use it making it simpler, faster and of course productive. There are some factors to take into account for this to have happened, among others, the incorporation of electricity, an issue that helped extensively in the modernization of the printing process.

It also influenced the diversification in the materials designed for printing, including cardboard, plasticized papers (vinyl) as well as almost all types of fabrics. In order to achieve this end, techniques were developed that are still in force today and have elevated printing as a very prosperous, interesting business from which various professions are nourished, including graphic design, marketing, advertising and many others that depend on this prosperous industry.

Currently there are two main ways to access images and texts in faithful reproductions, which meet the number of copies required, the time stipulated to have a given job, and the maximum quality required for each order, in short this is the essence of both techniques.

Digital Printing

This modern technique offers the user widely satisfactory results; through it, images and texts are obtained directly from a computer, internet or worked by a designer on screen, passing to the printing machine, which will give the results demanded, offering them in a very wide range of colors or a single ink.

Digital cutting printing is characterized above all by being direct, from a digital file to paper, transferring the image by inkjet, toner and laser printer. This technique offers numerous advantages because the user will be able to have the files almost immediately because it is not necessary to have a certain time for drying, or for cooling, because it does not require the use of dense inks such as those that can be used for other types of printing.

The digital is simple, light and very effective, giving the user a series of advantages that you can enjoy immediately and get all the immediacy the order previously requested, the fact of dispensing with extra time for cooling and waiting for drying, accelerates all the faces that previously must be developed before reaching your hands.

Among the benefits that stand out in its use, stand out among others:

The maximum speed in the elaboration of the order, possibility of making not very big printings, stimulating the profitability, direct works that makes them much more economic; we must emphasize that through this form of printing it is possible to personalize the articles, although their data are variable.

Technical data

The printers designed to work under the action of the digital technique work in the following way: each machine is designed to expel drops of ink of different sizes on the surface indicated, in durability surpass any competitor yielding in small runs like no other. As far as resolution is concerned, we are talking about an average of 600 dpi, sometimes reaching much higher resolutions.

The ink in this process is emitted by nozzles located in the print head, which runs through the page in horizontal stripes, using a motor that gives it a lateral and horizontal movement, as well as another motor that gives steps in vertical order. When a strip of paper has been printed the paper moves, and is ready to make a new strip.

In order to speed up this process, the printhead not only prints one line of pixels in each pass, but also makes a vertical line of more pixels at a time, obtaining this ink from replaceable cartridges.

According to the model, the machine will use two of them, one for the black ink and the other for the one that uses the color, in most of the occasions it is made for the basic colors.

Other features that distinguish these machines, is their ease of operation, solving disadvantages of different nature, including those that once represented the use of some colors, with the release of single-tone cartridges to the market, in addition to being an essential saving in resources (because you only have to change the cartridge exhausted) and continue the printing process without further delay.

But not everything remains there, because another important place in the world of color and image is occupied by the Offset Printing.

Its name comes from the English, whose exact translation into Spanish is ”indirect” is another way of printing on paper, carrying out a process a little more laborious as to the steps to follow is concerned.

It is a matter of adding images, colour and text, but this time it is achieved by applying an oily ink on a metal plate almost always made of an aluminium alloy.

It was developed very curiously in two different parts of the world in 1875 through the English Robert Barclay and in 1903 on the initiative of the American Washington Rubel; over the years, both techniques were unified to result in this impression of very high precision recognized throughout the world.

The basis and application of ”offset” is similar to that used in lithography, i.e. the plate is dampened with water or with a polar solution to repel the ink in the parts where a hydrophobic liquid is located (which repels water) and in other parts another substance but which in this case attracts it.

Whether by manual methods or by photoengraving, the difference with lithography is that the images are not transmitted directly, but is made through a cylinder coated on its surface and with a blanket, flexible material usually conceived in rubber or silicone, designed so that the image in question is transferred through pressure to the surface designed to print (usually paper).

The above explained in precisely what gives it exceptional efficiency and quality and above any other method because the roller mentioned above has the full ability to impregnate the ink that is adhered to any surface, including rough and irregular.

Offering among others, the following advantages:

– Very fast and simple processes in the preparation of the material, this added to the low price of the plate making the production system very economical.

– Ideal for medium and large runs, including a wide range of formats.

– One hundred percent guaranteed as to the resemblance to the initial idea, this method guarantees that it will resemble the initial idea in its entirety.

The print shop in its online version

The arrival of the twentieth century brought with it a new way of marketing companies, products and services, bringing comfort to the user. Going to the headquarters of the business from which a service is needed today is an optional matter and everything depends on the express desire of the user or the new or regular customer in question, because with the development of the world wide web, almost all transactions or orders of different nature can be made through a screen, with a click, from the office and even from the mobile device.

The print shop is not on the margin of this new era and in its version ”on line” offers the possibility of accessing all its products and services by navigating through a screen.

The essence of this version of the printing company as a company dedicated to graphic arts, has acquired a great boom, providing photographs, description, price, payment method and especially advice, to anyone who enters your site in order to locate a particular product so as to acquire it for professional and corporate purposes or for personal purposes, acquiring everything offered by the graphic arts market, image, signage, graphic design and printing in this way, will produce savings of time, money and the possibility of receiving the product at home, ensuring total quality and product integrity.

The museum of printing, living history of graphic art in Europe

The Valencian Community has the privilege of having a complete enclosure in which they meet from the first printing machine in modern history (a copy) to the most modern of machines dedicated to this end.

In the town of Piug and forming part of the facilities of the Monastery of this locality is ”El Museo de la Imprenta” the historical and cultural site per excellence, which brings together different aspects that enclose the stories of modern letters, beginning from 1440 with the invention of the first machine.

In its installations, the visitor can make a very complete graphic and physical journey of everything that since the beginning of time involved the art of writing and printing public and private texts.

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