The history of design

Wood block is a traditional style of print used to print text and images. Wood block printing dates back to 220 AD. It is a form of print that started in East Asia. At first, woodblock printing was mainly used for printing books on agriculture and medicine, as well as for printing calendars, calligraphy, and auspicious charms. In 762, the first commercially printed books were sold in the markets of Chang’an, the Tang capital. In 782, printed papers were available in the marketplace as receipts for business transactions and tax payments.


This is an example of wood block print. It consists of an image or letters that you apply ink to in order to create an image or text piece.

Movable type is the system of printing and typography that uses movable components to reproduce the elements of a document (usually individual letters or punctuation). The world’s first known movable type system for printing was created in China around 1040 A.D.


A type writer is an example of movable print. It has moving parts that all come together to create writing.

Letterpress printing is a technique of relief printing using a printing press. A worker composes and locks movable type into the bed of a press, inks it, and presses paper against it to transfer the ink from the type which creates an impression on the paper.  Letterpress is still alive today, although it exists on a much smaller scale and usually only in specialty shops. The process often now involves photopolymer plates that can translate a digital design into a raised plate for use with vintage presses. It has seen a revival of success in recent years in the fine art, craft, and design worlds and is often used to create wedding invitations and posters. However, it remains a very flexible and reliable printing method that can be used for almost anything.


This is an example of letter please print. Letters are stuck together to create words which is then used to create sayings and sentences during print.

Offset printing is a method of printing which has bee around since 1875. The process of offset printing is transferring the image or text you want to print onto a rubber sheet which is then pressed and printed onto paper, fabric or card. Offset printing produces sharp and clean images and type more easily than, for example, letterpress printing; this is because the rubber blanket conforms to the texture of the printing surface. Offset printing is the cheapest method for producing high quality prints in commercial printing quantities.


This is an offset printer. The rubber sheet presses the image or text onto the material.

Flexography typically operating with web presses, flexography does not use the standard plates of offset lithography. Instead it uses rubber plates and water based inks which dry quicker and allow for faster production times. Faster drying times also allow for more effective results on materials like plastic which does not absorb ink like paper does. This method of printing has been around since 1890 and originated in Liverpool.


Here is a diagram of Flexography printing.

Inkjet printing is a method of printing which has been around since 1951. Inkjet printers have certainly come a long way in the last two decades. And although we didn’t see them in the stores until the 1980’s, it was as far back as the mid 1970’s when printer companies recognised that inkjet technology was going to be the wave of the future. But initially, companies were faced with the challenge of creating an inkjet printer that was affordable while at the same time could provide quality printouts. The more popular type of inkjet printer was invented by Siemens in 1977. These printers, sprayed ink only where needed and although they were less expensive, they were slower than continuous inkjet printers. One of the biggest challenges when creating inkjet printers was controlling the flow of ink from the print head onto the page. At first, the print head became clogged with dried ink. IBM used electrically-charged droplets to coat the page with ink but this strategy wasted a lot of ink and the technology didn’t appeal to consumers. Eventually, these challenges were met by Canon and Hewlett Packard in the late 1980s, when liquid inkjet printers hit the market. Canon_S520_ink_jet_printer_-_opened


This is the inside of an ink jet printer, black being the dominant colour as most print is with black ink.

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