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Reproduction Technology

Reproduction technology is one of the essential stages of printmaking, along with the pre-press and press stages. It includes all photographic, photomechanical, and electronic methods for the copying and printing processes. These include the preparation and copying of originals, the production of print forms and the printing itself.

While the preparation of the respective print form takes place in the pre-press stage, the reproduction stage involves the actual reproduction of the images or texts. Reproduction technology also includes various printing processes. Since the rise of computer use, the printing processes have been accelerated considerably, as the images and texts are digitally transferred to the printing plate or engraved on the printing cylinder in a short time.

Reproduction Technology
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How Does Reproduction Technology Work?

In accordance with DIN 8730, printing is the reproduction of a textual and pictorial representation by means of colorants on a substrate. In this context, the substrate is the technical term for the print carrier, i.e., the paper, textiles, film, or cardboard that is printed on. The printing is carried out by using a printing plate. The print forms are prepared in the pre-press stage: all image and text elements as well as the other requirements for the color design are made here.

The printing process consists of four steps: The substrate can either be laid out sheet by sheet or fed in as a substrate strip. In the next step, the print form is colored. This is followed by the printing process with subsequent finishing. It includes, among other things, laying out the substrate. In the last step, the final inspection takes place, in which the original is compared with the print result.

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An Overview of the Printing Principles

Different principles are used in printing: surface against the surface (flat against flat), cylinder against the surface (round against flat), and cylinder against cylinder (round against round).

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Surface Against Surface

This process is the oldest known printing process, typically used in letterpress printing. The substrate is pressed from a flat counterpressure plate onto a flat printing plate, whereby ink is transferred. This requires a great deal of force, which is why the machines are made of heavy materials. Jobbing presses operate based on this principle. 

Cylinder Against Surface

This principle is used in the stop-cylinder press, which works in the same way as copper printing presses. The rotary movement of the impression cylinder exerts contact pressure on the substrate. The cylinder is fixed on its axis, while the printing plate moves underneath it. This way, higher speeds are achieved, for example for newspaper printing.

Cylinder Against Cylinder

This printing system works with a cylinder and a counter-cylinder: the substrate is pressed as a sheet or rolled against the form cylinder and printed in this way. Modern printing presses use this principle for sheets and rolls.

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What Are the Different Printing Methods?

The four main printing methods are divided into relief printing, intaglio, planographic printing and screen printing based on the relationship between the printing elements and the print form. This distinction is regulated in DIN 16500. Further subdivisions according to this standard are based on the material of the print form. These include, for example, stone or copper printing. Further distinctions are made according to the type of print form, the degree of automation of the printing process, or the transmission path. In the latter case, a distinction is made between direct and indirect printing processes. In the former, the print is applied directly to the substrate, while in the latter an intermediate carrier is used. With direct printing, the printed image is laterally reversed, whereas with indirect printing it is laterally correct.

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Relief Printing Process

In the relief printing process, the elements that are to be printed protrude from the surface. Ink is applied to the print form with rollers. Letterpress printing, letterset printing and flexographic printing are types of relief printing processes. Letterpress printing is the basic form from which others developed.

Letterpress printing is also known as indirect letterpress printing and is used primarily for continuous printing and in the packaging industry.

Flexographic printing is used for printing on packaging films. A photopolymer plate is used as the printing plate.

Intaglio Printing

In this case, the elements to be printed are recessed. They are filled with liquid ink and during the printing process, the ink is released onto the printing material. Common intaglio printing processes include steel and copper engraving, machine roller intaglio, and etching.

Planographic Printing Process

In this process, all elements are on one plane and printing is achieved by the different chemical compositions of water and grease. While the printing areas accept the greasy ink, the others repel it. Well-known planographic printing processes are offset printing, as well as collotype and lithographic printing.

Screen Printing

In the screen-printing process, the print form only let the inks permeate the areas that are to be printed, while the rest of the surface is impermeable. Examples of these printing processes include risography as well as digital printing processes such as laser printing.

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Reproduction Technology at EyeC

With EyeC's software, you get the perfect solution for the pre-press of your print products. Our artwork and pre-press check take care of proofing all your files. This way, only error-free files make it to print.

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Ashley Madden

EyeC America

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