Printing Expo, Strasbourg

A few weeks ago, we were in Strasbourg and there were a lot of events happening in the city; one of which was Gutenberg 2014, an exhibition of printing techniques, and it was quite interesting.

We have been using different forms of printing since a long time. Whenever we wanted to make an impression on a material and do it multiple times, we made objects that would help us do that.  Seals, Rubber Stamps, henna blocks, typewriters are examples of such objects.  Lots of objects around us use some form of printing in their making, for eg. Currencies, patterns on fabric, books and other documents, product labels, newspapers etc.

Printing is usually an additive process as we add a layer of some material on another one rather than take away some (as in sculpting). The most essential elements to any type of printing would be 1) material on which the print has to be made(let’s call it the base) 2) object through which the print has to be made 3) the material that is to be transferred on the base.

These days printing has been extended to depositing a material layer by layer one on top of other to create complete objects through such additive technique,which we call 3D printing.

Festival of Printing
Festival of Printing

The name of the festival comes from Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of movable type printing press.


Some of the Printing Techniques that were demonstrated at the expo:


Originally in lithography, a specially prepared limestone was used to prepare the image for printing just as one would draw an image on a paper. The drawing on the stone can be made with any type of greasy material. Once the image was prepared and inked, it would then be transferred to the substrate using a press.

Lithography stone


images ready to be printed
aligning the stone in the press for transferring the image to the substrate


Screen Printing is a commonly used technique to print on fabrics and a lot of other substrates, wood,paper,plastic, metal.

In  this technique, a stencil is first prepared on a mesh by leaving the image areas uncovered & covering the non-image areas with some substance.

When ink is then swapped across the whole screen, the ink permeates through the uncovered areas creating an image.



Offset printing is probably the most common technique for commercial printing industry. It involves the printing plate transferring the ink onto a blanket which then transfers the ink to the final object.

Offset printed images of Strasbourg cathedral
an offset printer


Apart from this, there were a few other techniques on demo and it was fun to watch.

a press to print on small rubber type materials
a press to print on small rubber type materials (using  cellophane sort of paper)
some typography

It was most of us’ first trip to France and we loved the place. Friendly people and beautiful city!


au revoir!


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