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On March 3, 2017 we went to see Offset and Letterpress printing at _____ located at 3 Macopa
St., Sto. Domingo, Quezon City.

This photo shows the process of Letter Press

Printing. Letterpress is the oldest method of
printing with equipment and images printed by the
"relief" type printing plates where the image or
printing areas are raised above the non-printing
areas. The use of letterpresses is on the decline
being replaced with faster and more efficient
printing presses such as the offset lithographic
press or the flexographic press. The amount of
setup required to prepare the equipment to print a
job is significant. For example, the image must be
metal cast prior to print versus offset printing
plates which are comparatively cheaper and
require less time to make.

Letterpress printing is a technique of relief printing using a printing press, a process

by which many copies are produced by repeated direct impression of an inked, raised surface
against sheets or a continuous roll of paper. 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.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. 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" or .918 inches can be printed using letterpress.
Letterpress printing was the normal form of printing text from its invention by Johannes
Gutenberg in the mid-15th century until 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
way to print and distribute information until the 20th century, when offset printing was
developed, which largely supplanted its role in printing books and newspapers. All forms of data
collection were affected by the invention of letterpress printing, as were many careers such as
teachers, preachers, physicians and surgeons and artist-engineers. More recently, letterpress
printing has seen a revival in an artisanal form.

(In this photo, the operator uses a small metal to

rotate the dials of numbers to be printed on the

Johannes Gutenberg is credited with the development in the western hemisphere, in about 1440,
of modern movable type printing from individually cast, reusable letters set together in a form
(frame or chase). Movable type was first invented in China using ceramic type in 1040 AD.
Gutenberg also invented a wooden printing press, based on the extant wine press, where the type
surface was inked with leather covered ink balls and paper laid carefully on top by hand, then
slid under a padded surface and pressure applied from above by a large threaded screw. It was
Gutenburg's "screw press" or hand press that was used to print 180 copies of the Bible. At 1,282
pages, it took him and his staff of 20 almost 3 years to complete. 48 copies remain intact today.
[5] This form of presswork gradually replaced the hand copied manuscripts of scribes and
illuminators as the most prevalent form of printing.[4] Printers' workshops, previously unknown
in Europe before the mid-15th century, were found in every important metropolis by 1500.[4]
Later metal presses used a knuckle and lever arrangement instead of the screw, but the principle
was the same. Ink rollers made of composition made inking faster and paved the way for further

(This is the pile of papers, ready to be


With the advent of industrial mechanization, inking was carried out by rollers that passed over
the face of the type, then moved out of the way onto an ink plate to pick up a fresh film of ink for
the next sheet. Meanwhile, a sheet of paper slid against a hinged platen (see image), which then
rapidly pressed onto the type and swung back again as the sheet was removed and the next sheet
inserted. As the fresh sheet of paper replaced the printed paper, the now freshly-inked rollers ran
over the type again. Fully automated 20th-century presses, such as the Kluge and "Original"
Heidelberg Platen (the "Windmill"), incorporated pneumatic sheet feed and delivery.
Rotary presses were used for high-speed work. In the oscillating press, the form slid under a
drum around which each sheet of paper got wrapped for the impression, sliding back under the
inking rollers while the paper was removed and a new sheet inserted. In a newspaper press, a
papier-mch mixture called a flong used to make a mould of the entire form of type, then dried
and bent, and a curved metal plate cast against it. The plates were clipped to a rotating drum and
could print against a continuous reel of paper at the enormously high speeds required for
overnight newspaper production. This invention helped aid the high demand for knowledge
during this time period.

(Over-all construction of the machine.)

Tools for composing by hand: block of type tied up, a composing stick, a bodkin, and string, all
resting in a type galley.

Composition, or typesetting, is the stage where pieces of movable type are assembled to form the
desired text. The person charged with composition is called a "compositor" [or typesetter],
setting letter by letter and line by line.

Traditionally, as in manual composition, it involves selecting the individual type letters from
a type case, placing them in a composing stick, which holds several lines, then transferring those
to a larger type galley. By this method the compositor gradually builds out the text of an
individual page letter by letter. In mechanical typesetting, it may involve using a keyboard to
select the type, or even cast the desired type on the spot, as in hot metal typesetting, which are
then added to a galley designed for the product of that process. The first keyboard-actuated
typesetting machines, the Linotype and
the Monotype, were introduced in the 1890s.

After a galley is assembled to fill a page's

worth of type, the type is tied together into a
single unit so that it may be transported
without falling apart. From this bundle
a galley proof is made, which is inspected by a
proof-reader to make sure that the particular
page is accurate.

(The operator arranges the blocks to be used

for printing.)

A single-page forme for printing the front page of
the New Testament. The black frame surrounding it is the
"chase", and the two objects each on the bottom and left
side are the "quoins"

Main article: imposition

Broadly, imposition or imposing is the process by which

the tied assemblages of type are converted into a "form"
("forme") ready to use on the press. A person charged
with imposition is a stoneman [stonehand], doing their
work on a large, flat imposition stone (though some later
ones were also of iron [metal]).

More specifically, imposition is the technique of arranging the various pages of type with respect
to one another (this is its modern sense). Depending on page size and the sheet of paper used,
several pages may be printed at once on a single sheet. After printing, these are cut and trimmed
before folding or binding. In these steps, the imposition process ensures that the pages face the
right direction and in the right order with the right margins. [Printing formes are put together in
multiples of 12 pages. The stonehand arranges the pages in such a way that the folios [page
numbers] of facing pages add up to the form's total + 1 {12 + 1 = 13, 24 + 1 = 25 etc.}]

Low-height pieces of wood or metal furniture are added to make up the blank areas of a page.
The printer uses a mallet [to strike a wooden block] to level the [raised] type [blocks] to ensure
the printing surface is flat.

Lock-up is the final step before printing. The printer removes the cords that hold the type
together, and turns the [quoins] with a key or lever to "lock" the entire complex of type, blocks,
furniture, and chase (frame) into placecreating what is called a form or forme. The printer
takes the finished form to the printing press, [in a newspaper setting, each page needs a truck to
be transported, 2 pages need 2 trucks hence the term double truck. The form/page is proofed
again] for errors before starting the printing run.

The working of the printing process depends on the type of press used, as well as any of its
associated technologies (which varied by time period).

Hand presses generally required two people to operate them: one to ink the type, the other to
work the press. Later mechanized jobbing presses require a single operator to feed and remove
the paper, as the inking and pressing are done automatically.

The completed sheets are then taken to dry and for finishing, depending on the variety of printed
matter being produced. With newspapers, they are taken to a folding machine. Sheets for books
are sent for bookbinding.

You can distinguish a traditional letterpress printer from a digital printer by its debossed
lettering. A traditional letterpress printer made a heavy impression into the stock and producing
any indentation at all into the paper would have resulted in the print run being rejected. Part of
the skill of operating a traditional letterpress printer was to get the machine pressures just right so
that the type just kissed the paper transferring the minimum amount of ink to create the crispest
print with no indentation. This was very important as when the print exited the machine and was
stacked having too much wet ink and an indentation would have increased the risk of set-off (ink
passing from the front of one sheet onto the back of the next sheet on the stack).

Offset printing is a commonly used printing technique in which the inked image is transferred
(or "offset") from a plate to a rubber blanket, then to the printing surface. When used in
combination with the lithographic process, which is based on the repulsion of oil and water, the
offset technique employs a flat (planography) image carrier on which the image to be printed
obtains ink from ink rollers, while the non-printing area attracts a water-based film (called
"fountain solution"), keeping the non-printing areas ink-free. The modern "web" process feeds a
large reel of paper through a large press machine in several parts, typically for several meters,
which then prints continuously as the paper is fed through.

Development of the offset press came in two versions: in 1875 by Robert Barclay of England for
printing on tin, and in 1904 by Ira Washington Rubel of the United States for printing on paper.

(The operator prepares the sheet of film for

exposure under halogen light for seven

Lithography was initially created to be an inexpensive

method of reproducing artwork. This printing process
was limited to use on flat, porous surfaces because the
printing plates were produced from limestone.] In
fact, the word "lithograph" historically means "an image from stone" or "printed from stone". Tin
cans were popular packaging materials in the 19th century, but transfer technologies were
required before the lithographic process could be used to print on the tin.

The first rotary offset lithographic printing press was created in England and patented in 1875 by
Robert Barclay. This development combined mid-19th century transfer printing technologies
and Richard March Hoe's 1843 rotary printing pressa press that used a metal cylinder instead
of a flat stone. The offset cylinder was covered with specially treated cardboard that transferred
the printed image from the stone to the surface of the metal. Later, the cardboard covering of the
offset cylinder was changed to rubber, which is still the most commonly used material.

As the 19th century closed and photography became popular, many lithographic firms went out
of business. Photoengraving, a process that
used halftone technology instead of illustration, became
the primary aesthetic of the era. Many printers,
including Ira Washington Rubel of New Jersey, were
using the low-cost lithograph process to produce copies of
photographs and books. Rubel discovered in 1901by
forgetting to load a sheetthat when printing from the
rubber roller, instead of the metal, the printed page was
clearer and sharper.[4] After further refinement, the
Potter Press printing Company in New York produced a
press in 1903.[4] By 1907 the Rubel offset press was in
use in San Francisco.

The Harris Automatic Press Company also created a similar press around the same time. Charles
and Albert Harris modeled their press "on a rotary letter press machine".
The ink fountain stores a quantity of ink in a
reservoir and feeds small quantities of ink to the
distribution rollers from the ink fountain roller
and the ink ductor roller. The ink ductor roller is
a movable roller that moves back and forth
between the ink fountain roller and an ink
distribution roller. As the ductor contacts the ink
fountain roller, both turn and the ductor is inked.
The ductor then swings forward to contact an
ink distribution roller and transfers ink to it.
There are generally two types of ink distribution
rollers: the ink rotating rollers (or ink transfer
rollers), which rotate in one direction, and the
ink oscillating rollers (or ink vibrating rollers),
which rotate and move from side to side. The
ink distribution rollers receive ink and work it into a semiliquid state that is uniformly delivered
to the ink form rollers. A thin layer of ink is then transferred to the image portions of the
lithographic plate by the ink form rollers.

The ink fountain holds a pool of ink and controls the amount of ink that enters the inking system.
The most common type of fountain consists of a metal blade that is held in place near the
fountain roller. The gap between the blade and the ink
fountain roller can be controlled by adjusting screw
keys to vary the amount of ink on the fountain roller.
The printer adjusts the keys in or out as the ink fountain
roller turns to obtain the desired quantity of ink. In
simple presses, the printer must turn these screws by
hand. In modern presses, the adjusting screws are
moved by servomotors which are controlled by the
printer at a press console. Thus the printer can make ink
adjustments electronically. If the printer needs to
increase or decrease ink in an area of the plate (print), he
need only adjust the needed keys to allow more or less ink flow through the blade. The ink flow
can also be controlled by the rotation velocity of the ink fountain roller.

A simple indication of the quality of a printing press

is the number of distribution and form rollers. The
greater the number of distribution rollers, the
more accurate the control of ink uniformity. It is
difficult to ink large solid areas on a plate with
only one ink form roller. With three (generally the
maximum), it is relatively easy to maintain
consistent ink coverage of almost any image area
on the plate. Business forms presses, which print very
little coverage, usually only have one or two ink
form rollers. Because of this, they cannot print
large solid or screen images. Smaller, less
sophisticated presses also have the same problem,
however, many of the newer presses today are
being equipped with larger, better inking systems to meet the growing print demands of the

Direct dampening systems employ a water fountain roller which picks up the water from the
water fountain. The water is then passed to a water distribution roller. From here the water is
transferred to the offset plate via one or two water form rollers.

Indirect dampening systems (or integrated dampening systems) feed the water directly into one
of the ink form rollers (ink rollers that touch the offset plate) via a water form roller in contact
with it. These systems are known as "indirect" since the water travels to the offset plate passing
through the inking system and not directly to the offset plate as direct systems do. Some indirect
systems will have the ability to feed the water into the inking system as well as to the offset
plate. A fine emulsion of ink and water is then developed on the ink form roller. This is one
reason printers need to know about "water pickup" or what percentage of water can be taken up
by the ink. These systems are also known as "integrated" dampening systems as they are
integrated into the inking system. One of the benefits of these systems, is that they do not use
covers thus they react quicker when dampening changes are made. One generally finds this type
of dampening systems on newer and faster press equipment today.

Intermittent-flow dampening systems (direct or indirect) use a water ductor roller to pick up the
water and transfer it to a water distribution roller. A drawback of these systems is the slow
reaction time in making adjustments due to the back and forth action of the ductor.

Continuous-flow dampening systems (direct or indirect), are used by most newer presses today
because they do not have the slow reaction time of intermittent-flow dampening systems. They
do not employ the water ductor roller but use the water slip roller (a roller in contact with both
the water fountain roller and a distribution roller, contrary to the water ductor roller that moves
back and forth between the two) for a continuous flow. The speed of the water slip roller controls
the supply. The use of alcohol on these type of dampeners was standard for years. Alcohol
(isopropyl alcohol) was used as it increased the water viscosity and made it "more wettable" so
that transfer was easier from one roller to the other. However, alcohol substitutes such as glycol
ethers, butyl cellusolve, etc., are being used today to accomplish the same task because alcohol
contains volatile organic compounds. Roller hardness is also being changed to help accomplish
the same jobeasy transfer of the water.