Invented by : Johann Gutenberg Invented in year : 1440
Printing Press is a mechanical device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a medium (such as paper or cloth), thereby transferring an image. Letters and symbols representing content, cast in mirror reverse (the punch), were arranged appropriately and locked into a form. A matrix was created by placing the punch on a rectangular block made of a softer metal – usually copper - and striking it vertically with a hammer-blow. The resulting matrix was reworked and straightened to form a right-angled cube. This true-reading image required a uniform depth, achieved by filing over the surface. A hand casting instrument was used to facilitate the casting of a character,with two sections enclosing a rectangular casting channel, closed at one end by the matrix. The resulting character was then de-flashed, to remove excess casting material. Each letter had a pre-determined breaking point to ensure that all letters were of identical height. The hand casting instrument allowed the printer to quickly cast the required number of a diverse range of characters . The metal used for casting was an alloy of lead, tin and further admixtures, with attributes that ensured rapid cooling and sufficient durability under the high mechanical stresses of the press. These were then either pressed against an ink pad or had ink scrubbers rubbed over them. Finally, a sheet of paper is manually pressed tightly against the form to leave an impression of the type. Through this process, anywhere from 50 to 300 pages could be printed in an hour.
History of the Invention
The basic concept of printing can be traced back to the Chinese, who pressed wooden blocks in ink and then against paper. Using character shaped from clay, the Chinese had a working movable type as early as 1041. Gutenberg's printing method was based somewhat on the technologies from China (East Asia). Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg (c. 1398 - February 3, 1468) a German goldsmith and printer, invented the Printing Press. Gutenberg was also the first in Western Europe to develop a printing press. The mechanical system was first assembled in Strasbourg, Germany in about 1440, based on existing screw-presses used to press cloth, grapes, etc. and possibly prints. He invented the printing press with replaceable/moveable wooden or metal letters in 1436 (completed by 1440). His printing press utilised a hand press, in which ink was rolled over the raised surfaces of moveable hand-set block letters held within a wooden form and the form was then pressed against a sheet of paper. His invention was made of a movable type made from a durable metal alloy that could be cast from a mould rather than hand-carved from wood. The genius of Gutenberg's invention was to split the text into its individual components, such as lower and upper case letters, punctuation marks, ligatures and abbreviations, drawing on the traditions of medieval scribes. These individual items were then cast in quantity as mirror images and assembled to form words, lines and pages. In 1450, Gutenberg began a second arrangement with German businessman Johannes Fust. Fust lent Gutenberg the money to start a printing business and build a large Gutenberg Press, their printing projects included the now famous Gutenberg Bible. On September 30, 1452, Johann Guttenberg's Bible was published becoming the first book to be published in volume.
Development in the Invention of the Printing Press
Gutenberg is also credited with the introduction of an oil-based ink which was more durable than the previously used water-based inks. As printing material he used both vellum and paper, the latter having been introduced in Europe a few centuries earlier from China by way of the Arabs.
It was over 300 years later by 1800, that Lord Stanhope had constructed a press completely from cast iron, reducing the force required by 90% while doubling the size of the printed area. Stanhope's mechanical theory had improved the efficiency of the press, but it was only capable of 250 sheets per hour.
German printer Friedrich Koenig would be the first to design a non-man powered machine using steam. Having moved to London in 1804, Koenig soon met Thomas Bensley and secured financial support for his project in 1807. Patented in 1810, Koenig had designed a steam press which was much like a hand press connected to a steam engine. The first production trial of this model occurred in April 1811. He produced his machine with assistance from German engineer Andreas Friedrich Bauer. The machine was capable of 1,100 impressions per hour.
In 1843, Richard M. Hoe developed the steam powered rotary printing press in the United States. It allowed millions of copies of a page in a single day. Mass production of printed works flourished after the transition to rolled paper, as continuous feed allowed the presses to run at a much faster pace.
During the middle of the 19th century, jobbing presses were developed. These were small presses capable of printing small-format pieces such as bill heads, letterheads, business cards, and envelopes. They were sold by a company named Chandler & Price.
Further research led to later inventions which included Lithography, Offset printing, Desktop publishing, Electronic publishing, Computer printer, Composing stick etc.
Role of Printing Press in the development of Human Life
It brought down the price of printed materials and made such materials available for the masses. It remained the standard until the 20th century.
Because of the printing press, authorship became more meaningful and profitable. It was suddenly important who had said or written what, and what the precise formulation and time of composition was.
Gutenberg's method of printing revolutionised not only the production of books, but also for fostering rapid development in the sciences, arts and religion through the transmission of texts.