History

Screen-printing is one of the four ancient, traditional techniques that developed across different eras and throughout specific historical contexts. The technique constitutes only one of the many printing processes available today, and it is constantly being threatened by faster and cheaper ways of reproducing an image. Learn how to distinguish screen-printing from the other printing processes, and why it still deserves its place in today’s society.

Relief engraving

the elevated areas are inked, then printed (the image is reversed)
  • Block printing or woodcut

    Block printing is believed to be the oldest printing technique ever invented. It was mainly used to decorate textiles.

  • 1300

    First usage of wood type in China.

  • 1400

    Gutenberg invents the movable type font, in both lead and wood. Birth of printing in the western world. The first prints were ecclesiastical texts for the Church.

  • 2015

    Relief engraving is not used much nowadays except by artists, designers and typographers who chose to work with it either out of nostalgia or in order to obtain a specific look that other printing techniques don’t offer.

Intaglio

the family of printing and printmaking techniques in which the image is incised into a surface, and the incised line or sunken area holds the ink. The image is reversed.
  • 1400

    Copper engraving

    Copper engraving is derived directly from the knowledge and tradition of the smithy and blacksmith. It allows for more detailed reproductions than on wood, but it was very expensive and therefore only the very rich could afford it. It is fairly easy to recognize copper engraving prints thanks to their neat lines and tones that sometimes look like a watercolour painting.

  • 2015

    Today, copper engraving is only used in the art reproduction field. It is the most expensive of the printing technique we use.

Planography

a light relief is created by the deposit of a greasy medium on a lime stone. The stone is then humidified, inked, and printed (the image is reversed).
  • 1796

    Lithography

    The technique was discovered by Alois Senefelder. This process was a revolution, allowing for printing in big quantities for the first time. The first product to be reproduced was music sheets. Artists and painters could now draw directly on the stone, with incredible precision, in many colours and with precise alignments. We see the beginnings of the modern world of advertising through the development of stamps, packaging, billboards and posters.

  • 1875

    «Off-set» printing

    The technique of lithography sees improvement thanks to a foldable aluminum plate that fits around a cylinder, together with an added «off-set» blanket on which the image is transferred. The printed image appears in the right direction thanks to the blanket.

  • 2015

    Today, stone lithography is only used in the field of art reproduction. «Off-set», however, has become more and more popular and is now one of the most used commercial printing techniques for printing in large quantities.

Stenciling

an opening is created in a closed area, and ink is forced through this opening. The image is printed in the right direction.
  • Stencil

    The first usage of the basic principle of stenciling dates back to the noelithic age. In both Europe and in Asia it was used until the 20th century.

  • XIXE

    Screen-printing

    Screen-printing is an improved stencil. It is hard to know who first invented the technique because it developed simultaneously in different parts of the world. The first application of screen-printing as we know it today was for the marking of felt- flags (universities or sports leagues flags) in the beginning of the 20th century.

  • 1915

    In North America, screen-printing saw a boost thanks to the development of the advertising world. Its growth and evolution is slower in Europe due to the First World War. However, the Second World War provided the perfect environment for the technique to develop its numerous applications. Screen-printing hasn’t stopped developing and modernizing since.

  • 2015

    Screen-printing is the cheapest of the art reproduction techniques available today.
It is also a process that is extremely flexible and durable, in the field of textile printing as well as for graphic applications, in both the commercial and the artistic world.