WHAT IS LETTERPRESS PRINTING?

Letterpress is the oldest form of printing. In this method, a surface with raised letters is inked and pressed to the surface of the printing substrate to reproduce an image. Traditionally, metal type was used but now we use polymer plates made from film negatives of digital artwork.

Letterpress was the most predominant printing method from its invention by Johannes Gutenberg in the mid-15th century until the second half of the 20th century when offset printing was developed. More recently, letterpress printing has seen a revival in an artisan form.

Letterpress excels at printing fine type and line work. Letterpress printing is not ideal for solid fields of color. Most large solid shapes result in the color printing ‘salty’, a term used to describe the texture and color of the paper showing through the ink.

While letterpress was never intended to be printed with a dramatic impression, or deboss, into the paper, it is often the most desired feature today. Certain papers show off this impression better than others.

Letterpresses are also used to die cut for special shapes, folders or boxes. When combined with heat and a metal die letterpresses can foil stamp and emboss/deboss. These additional process can be combined with any form of inked printing to create really unique printed pieces.

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