Letterpress Printing Is Back – The Ultimate Guide to Getting Started

Letterpress Printing Is Back – The Ultimate Guide to Getting Started

Letterpress printing is back. So why is letterpress printing making a comeback? There are a few reasons to be excited about letterpress printing:

  1. Letterpress is the oldest form of printing in the world. It’s also the least expensive and most accessible printing type.
  2. Letterpress is an incredibly affordable way to print high-quality and professional-looking products.
  3. Letterpress is the only printing method where you can see the actual letters you’re printing.

This is an exciting time for letterpress printing as it’s again making its way back into the homes of the general public.

What is letterpress printing?

What Is Letterpress Printing

Letterpress printing is the oldest method of making printing plates and using them to print onto fabric and paper. Letterpress printers typically use a metal plate and rollers to transfer ink from the inked plate to a piece of paper. 

The original method was developed in Europe, and the word “letterpress” comes from the Latin letter and pressum, meaning “stamping with a type”.

There are three main types of letterpress printers:

  1. Hand letterpress
  2. Automated letterpress
  3. Digital letterpress

The traditional form is hand letterpress printing, using inked stamps to transfer ink to paper. Most letterpress printers use a hand-operated mechanism called a press to apply the ink to the fabric or paper.

The digital letterpress is an automated machine that uses inkjet printers and a computer to control and process the inking of textiles and paper. Digital printers work by applying ink to a sheet of paper using an inkjet printer. Then the sheet of paper passes over a cylinder that transfers the ink to the paper.

What are the advantages of letterpress printing?

  • The end product is beautiful and unique – no two pieces are identical.
  • Letterpress printing is environmentally friendly. Unlike most other methods of printing, the inks used are water-based.
  • It is a relatively low cost.
  • It is relatively easy to set up and use.
  • It is an excellent method for those with artistic talent and skills.

What are the disadvantages of letterpress printing?

  • It takes longer to create than other methods of printing.
  • To produce the final product, the letterpress printers must visit their local print shop or have them printed elsewhere.
  • The equipment and ink needed can be expensive.
  • It is labour-intensive.
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Is it really a dying art?

Is Letterpress Printing A Dying Art

Letterpress printing is essential if you want to print a high-quality magazine. But is it really a dying art? The answer is yes and no. 

Letterpress printing is still alive and well in specific specialist printing fields, but it has gradually lost ground to other techniques.

The history of letterpress printing is fascinating. It began in China in the 9th century. By the 15th century, German printers had started using copper plates, which was the method used for most books until the invention of photography. After the advent of the printing press in the 17th century, letterpress printing became the primary printing technique. However, its heyday was brief, and by the early 20th century, many printers switched to offset printing.

Letterpress printing is now enjoying a revival and becoming a more popular alternative to offset printing. Recently, there has been a renewed interest in the art and craft of letterpress printing. Today’s letterpress printers offer the finest quality printed products, and compared to offset printing, the cost per job is much lower.

Pressing On: The Letterpress Film
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Jim Daggs, Rick Von Holdt, Jim Sherraden (Actors)
  • Erin Beckloff (Director) - Erin Beckloff (Writer) - Erin Beckloff (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

In our opinion, letterpress printing is a beautiful printing process. A printed book looks excellent and provides a lasting memento of your wedding, anniversary or special occasion.

The key to a successful letterpress wedding is finding a printer who understands the technique and has the patience to determine how the finished product will look. For example, a wedding invitation should be printed on sturdy cardstock paper, not thin tissue paper. If you wish, your wedding invitation can be printed in two colours to make it more appealing. The reverse side of the invitation can be decorated with a design of your choice.

It would help to decide what you want your letterpress wedding invitations to say. Many types of letterpress wedding invitations are available, and you can choose from various fonts and designs. This will ensure that your invitations are unique and that the design matches your style.

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Letterpress Wedding Invitation Printing

We always recommend having a second pair of eyes to check the finished product. We have found that it is usually the designer, not the printer, who does the final proofreading.

You can also choose to have your invitations printed on both sides. You will write your text on the front of the invitation; on the reverse, you will have a design of your choice.

Another way of ensuring a great-looking letterpress wedding invitation is to create a mockup using a computer graphics package. You can then have the mockup printed. Alternatively, you can produce the invitations using a computer and a graphics package.

The best advice we can give you is to go to a few letterpress printers, compare their prices, and then pick the one that you feel will offer the best service.

As well as the price of the service, it would help if you also considered the cost of the materials required. The printer will likely require you to order the paper, font and other items yourself. Ask how much it will cost to add the printer to your order. It may not be a wise investment if you do not understand this.

How to get started

How To Do Letterpress

Letterpress Printing is a beautiful technique that is quite popular among graphic designers and artists. The technique requires a particular printing press to print on high-quality paper. It is not only an art form but also a great marketing tool for businesses.

The letterpress printing process is based on steel plates and engraving. In the letterpress printing process, the letterpress printing machine is used to print the letters on paper.

There are many benefits of letterpress printing. The primary benefit is that the printed material has a unique look and feel. It is a process that is best for printing on high-quality paper. It is also suitable for printing posters, books, packaging, and other stationery products.

Let us see how to get started with letterpress printing.

Steps to get started with letterpress printing:

  • Make sure you have a high-quality printer and that the ink is compatible with the machine.
  • Ensure that the paper is not too thin.
  • Check if the paper is thick enough to withstand the ink.
  • Make sure the paper is not too rough and will get damaged due to the ink.
  • Ensure that the font is compatible with the machine.
  • The ink used in the letterpress printing should be suitable for the printer.
  • You should choose the paper wisely to avoid any damage caused by the ink.
  • You should choose the right kind of paper and the thickness of the paper.
  • To get the best of the paper, you should go for coated paper.
  • You need to ensure that you get a durable and high-quality paper.
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The above steps will help you start the letterpress printing process. Make sure that you follow the steps carefully and then start enjoying the benefits of this beautiful printing technique.

Best equipment for letterpress printing

Diy Letterpress Printer

To achieve high-quality printing, you must use the correct equipment and set it up correctly. For example, the plate must be level or leveller adjusted. This is the flatbed of the press which bears against the inked plate, the sheet of paper being printed on and then transferred onto the paper stock. 

When the plate is not level, it will wear unevenly, resulting in uneven wear and possibly the paper stock itself becoming worn on the side away from the plate.

There are other vital components, such as the carriage assembly. This holds the inking rollers in place and the dampening roller. The plate should be set up so the paper is held firmly by the press bed while the carriage runs smoothly.

The paper stock must also be of a suitable thickness and cut to size before loading it into the machine. You also need to consider the surface of the stock, its stiffness, the weight of the stock, the size of the sheets, and the ink coverage.

The ink and dampening roller should be in good condition. The ink tray should be clean, and you should top up the ink supply bottle regularly. It would be best to turn the ink roller until it glides effortlessly across the stock. The dampening roller should be set to apply the correct amount of ink.

The type of press you choose should be appropriate to the type of work you want to do, and you should read up on the technical aspects of the printing process so that you know what you are doing.

How to Make a Good Press Bed

A good press bed is essential for printing letterpress prints on letterpress printing presses. A quality press bed can make a massive difference in the end product. If your press bed is too hard, it can ruin your print. 

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However, if it’s too soft, your letters will look sloppy. In this article, we’ll cover what makes a good press bed, the different types of beds and the different ways to maintain your press bed.

What is a press bed?

The bed of a letterpress press is the surface where the ink is pressed into the paper. This is done by a set of pins that are placed against the plate of the press. 

The plate of a letterpress press has a raised pattern that corresponds to the design of the print. These pins transfer the ink from the plate to the paper, making your print.

A good press bed is crucial to producing high-quality letterpress prints. A good press bed must be hard enough to hold the ink but soft enough to make crisp clean lines. The best press beds are wood, naturally resistant to cracking, splitting and warping.

Press beds can be made of different materials, including metal, plastic, porcelain, granite, wood, ceramic and steel.

Types of Press Beds

There are two main types of press beds: flatbed and rotary press beds.

Flatbed press beds

A flatbed press bed is a flat surface on which the plates are placed. The plate and the ink are brought together to make the print.

Rotary press beds

A rotary press bed is a round disc with pins at equal intervals around its edge. The discs are turned to make the print.

Press bed maintenance

To keep a press bed in top condition, you’ll need to periodically oil and wax it. Press beds can also be polished with fine sandpaper.


Oiling a press bed will restore its original sheen and keep it in good shape. Oiling your press bed is an excellent way to ensure it stays in tip-top condition.


Waxing your press bed keeps it shiny and reduces friction. The wax protects the press bed from dirt and prevents ink from getting under the pins.

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Sanding the press bed with fine sandpaper restores its shine and creates a smooth surface. Your press bed is essential to producing beautiful letterpress prints. When you oil and wax it regularly, it will stay in excellent condition.

How to Make a Good Ink Plate

To print a picture with letterpress printing, you need an ink plate. An ink plate is a kind of steel plate which you will use to transfer ink from the plate to paper. So, the question is how to make one?

Steps to make a good ink plate:

1 – Find a good steel plate

It would be best to find a good steel plate as this is the most crucial part of your ink plate. It would help if you chose a steel plate that will be strong and sturdy enough.

If the plate is not strong enough, it will break after printing. So, ensure that the steel plate you choose is solid and durable.

2 – Apply a good coat of paint

Paint is the most crucial part of your ink plate as it is going to give the required strength and durability to the plate. You need to ensure that the coating is smooth and has a thickness of 0.8 to 1.0 millimetres.

3 – Apply a clear coat

This is the final stage of your ink plate. The clear coat will give the shine and lustre to the plate. You will need to apply a clear coat on the plate to make it look nice.


You might find that getting started with letterpress printing is slightly different from what you’re used to. Sure, your designs might be similar to what you’re used to with your digital work. However, letterpress printing is not just about making text look good. There’s so much more to it than that. 

That’s why it’s worth taking a few extra steps to learn this new process. The good news is that it’s not as complicated as you think. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, you can achieve great results with your letterpress printing work. And that’s exactly what I want you to know. Get ready to take your letterpress printing to the next level.

Get this guide for free and learn all about letterpress printing and why it’s coming back into style.

Last update on 2023-05-31 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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