Industrial printing is usually done with big printing presses. For home use and small quantities, a computer printer is used instead, such as a laser or ink jet printer.
There are many different techniques for printing, such as:
- offset printing: today most books and newspapers are printed using this technique
- relief print: mainly used for catalogues
- flexography: used for packaging, labels, and newspapers
- screen printing: used for non-paper materials such as T-shirts or floor tiles
- rotogravure: mainly used for magazines and packaging
- xerography (photocopy): used for fanzines and similar purposes
Historically, the following printing techniques were very important and mostly used to print artistic images such as book illustrations:
Printing in color
Printing in color presented a challenge during the early centuries. Early solutions were to create several plates, one for each color, which would be applied to the paper in several printing steps. However this resulted only in images that had two, three, four etc. distinct colors - but intermediate colors like those a painter can mix on his palette (so-called half tones in printing) were hard to achieve.
Today, the technique of screening allows to create the appearance of half-tone colors by printing the ink in tiny dots, rather than solid areas (see also tinting). In most cases today the CMYK model is used for color printing, which uses four inks: cyan, magenta, yellow and black. Whenever special colors are required that are not part of the CMYK color space, or reflective, such as silver or gold, these are printed using additional special inks.
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