The 10 stages of printing evolution

Since the beginning of time, man has been seeking ways to physically and visually translate thoughts, ideas and memories. This concept was answered with the printer, and ever since the printer has been evolving (like all tech) to include more features, capabilities and technology.

The starting point of the industry and technology lied with woodblock printing, detected in china as early as 220AD. The process was understandably slow, however paved the way for priming in centauries to come.


The next evolution in printing started with printing press machines, which were manually operated in an ‘industrial lever pull’ type action, which was incredibly slow and time consuming for the office admin in the 1600’s.


Times quickly changed from manual printing, to steam printing which was introduced in the early 1800s. Still far from a LaserJet this new concept did take away much manual work from paper printing, which of course at the time was a huge advancement. I guess the only drawback was filling up your printer with water.


Next came the era of Dye-sublimation Printers in the mid 1990’s, focused on photo printing at high resolution (at the time) these printers were slow, very slow. In fact you could make and drink your cup of tea by the time it was finished printing one image.


Photocopiers were the next bit of essential kit for the office which started in the 1940’s. Now people could not only print their material but they could edit and replicate in mass. Created by Xerox the first photocopier had a 39 step process to produce one single copy!


Fax machines soon followed the scanner allowing users to copy a document using telephonic transmission of scanned printed material to another fax machine, a strange yet incredibly useful tool in the world of business.


Next came the revolutionary era of laser printers in the 1980’s, which all the big brands wanted to compete in. HP being the most successful in laser printing with their iconic ‘LaserJet’ series. Their range blasted through the market leaving competitors in its wake. With speed, efficiency becoming the next big think with printing, it made sense that the next advancements would be more performance based than ever.


Moving into the 90’s the next big leap forward for printing came in the form of inkjet printing, allowing higher quality, more detail and all round performance in home or office. What are great about these printers are the affordability of ink supplies and the prices of machines in general as opposed to more ‘tech heavy’ LaserJets.


With digital photo printing in more demand than ever, it has evolved its own type of printing of the highest resolutions and quality. So called fine art printing has grown to create stunning photography enlarged on huge dimension paper… to replicate fine art.


3d printing is the latest technological advancement that’s been creating a huge stir for its impressive capabilities. As the name suggests, it has the ability to print 3d object, more sculpting than printing. The technology has been used to create everything from cars to iron man suits, and there’s been much speculation about people printing their own guns. What does this new type of printing bring to us? The uses of 3d printing are still unclear or unexplored, but undoubtedly there will be a new type of printing in years to come that will make this seem primitive.


Written by Toner Giant – The UK’s leading online supplier of ink and toner cartridges.

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