The History of Print

Over hundreds of years, printing didn’t change that much. But thanks to many important historical figures and events, we have seen countless improvements to the technology of printing and publishing. What started as an ancient technique of woodblock printing evolved into a more modernized mechanical press and later became a digital press.

The first known printing dates back to the 800s AD in China when the book “The Diamond Sutra” was printed. Later, they moved to woodblock printing for mass production of books, and then to a moveable type using baked clay to print. This method was adopted by Korea and much of Europe until Johannes Gutenberg developed the printing press in the 1400s. Thanks to these modern improvements, technology has increased print output with a mechanical press known as the cylindrical press which increased productivity by almost five times from before.

Steam-powered cylinder presses were spread throughout Europe and eventually made their way to the Americas leading to what we know as the Industrial Revolution – bringing jobs, and education to the general population. In the 1800s, offset lithography was introduced. A popular technique still used to this day for its resolution and clarity. In 1970, water-based ink was developed which led to cleaner and more sustainable printing capabilities. Seventeen years later, we see soy-based inks become popular to reduce the use of harmful chemicals in the ink.

Digital and inkjet printing are all recent developments in print but offer great advancements like variable printing and no offset plating needs. They offer great quality much like offset printing, but can produce individual pages instead of a long sheet needing to be cut to size. By 2027, the commercial printing market is expected to grow to a value of $484 billion. In the United States, there are currently 25,000 commercial printing companies that employ approximately 357,000 people. This statistic has risen from 5 years ago meaning that we are a growing industry and will continue to grow thanks to the push of online shopping. E-commerce and web-to-print capabilities continue to drive revenue upward.

At DPG, we offer over 1000+ combined years in the industry to serve your growing print, mail, fulfillment, or data needs. Call us today to learn what we can do for you.