Graphic Design: Printing Processes

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  • Printing Processes
    • Letterpressing, Block Printing, & Flexogoraphy
      • Relief printing is a method in which inked wood, lino, or metal has paper pressed onto it to produce a print
      • Letterpress - prints from a raised surface:
        • The surface receives ink & is then pressed onto the paper
        • This process is expansive as metal letters have to be individually made
        • Letterpress is now only used for high-quality books & stationary, generally in short runs
      • Block printing - the image is drawn onto lino, then the lino is cut away around the image so the image sits proud of the surface
        • Ink is applied & then the paper is pressed onto the lino using a roller, so the image is transferred onto paper
      • Flexography is similar to the letterpress process, but instead of using flat printer plate, it uses flexible rubber or plastic plates for cylnders
        • The cylinders rotate to print onto paper, card, plastic, or metal
        • Flexography is used for packaging, cartons,  o point of sale material
    • Gravure Printing & screen Printing
      • Used when using high-quality prints in large volumes as it is very expensive to set up - used for production of photos, paintings, full-colour magazines, & books
      • 1) Images are etched onto a plate through a screen - the image is broken down into dots
      • 2) Ink fills the dot cells & excess ink is removed sing a 'doctor' blade
      • 3) Rubber-covered cylinders press the paper into the cell holes to create a printed image - the deeper the holes, the darker the image
      • Screen printing can print designs onto T-shirts, bags, banners, signs, shopping bags, posters, packaging, & flyers
        • Simple stencils can be made & used to produce relatively cheap prints fast & efficiently
        • More sophisticated commercial presses can produce thousands of copies per hour & produce a good thickness of ink on almost all surfaces
    • Planographic Printing/ Offset Lithography
      • Most common form is offset lithography which is mainly used for commercial printing
        • The speed & cheapness of the process makes it the most widely used method
      • Water & grease must not mix - the image attracts grease & rejects water & the areas that aren't being printed on rejects grease & attracts water
      • They rely on a 4 colour process using cyan (a shade of blue), magenta (a shade of red),  yellow, & black - known as CMYK (black is applied last as it creates a tone)
      • Small machines often use disposable paper printing plates to print letterheads, business cards & leaflets, in one or two print copies of up to 5000 copies
    • Dry Printing
      • Used by photocopiers & laser printers in xerography
      • Photocopiers are used to take copies, reduce, & enlarge images

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