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What is PNEAC?

Print Process Descriptions: Printing Industry Overview: Letterpress

In the construction of a letterpress "form" older methods of image making involving cast metal, plated molds, and other media have been replaced with photopolymer relief plates in those instances where letterpress equipment is still functional There are a few presses still availing themselves of old type and casts, and using ancient type-making machines (like linotype) but there are few persons alive today who know how to operate, much less keep them in functional repair.

The usage of cast metal type was replaced in some instances with typewriter generated "cold type", by the Varityper, Friden Justowriter, IBM Selectric Composer and these were replaced in part by photographic and then electronic platemaking. The development of photopolymer relief plates began to replace all of the above when letterpress hit its prime, and is now the most economical platemaking method available.

As letterpress usage grew, it became obvious that for long runs of the same copy, duplicate plates would save time and money. Stereotype, electrotype, rubber and plastic duplicate platemaking thrived, but are no longer widely used for letterpress work. The more economical and faster to produce photopolymer plates are extending the life of letterpress printing to some extent.

Photoengraving, at one time thought to be the last word in platemaking, is still in use to a limited extent, however photopolymer plates are less expensive, quicker to make, and supply fewer chemical residues, as a result the equipment to make photopolymer plates and the plates themselves provide an undeniable cost saving without jeopardizing the quality of the finished product. Chemical engraving has taken a back seat to mechanical and electronic computer driven engraving methods because of environmental reasons as well as cost and speed. Typesetting is also being done by computers, and films, where used, are often laser generated.

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