Through the Decades: A History of Printing Technology

Printing technology in some form has been with us in some form for most of recorded history. As early as the year 618, the T'ang Dynasty in China applied ink to carved wooden blocks in order to create multiple copies on paper. The evolution has continued from there.

Now, the printing market is considerable and the technology is sophisticated. For example, 3D printer revenues in the United States, the world's largest market for the hardware, is expected to approach $1.5 billion by 2019, market research firm IDC predicted in an October 2015 report.

The manufacturing sector, which pressure to reduce cycle times and prototyping costs, are a considerable driver in this market. “The technologies that enable 3D printing continue to develop and expand in nearly every direction,” said Tim Greene, research director, Hardcopy Solutions at IDC. “These technologies can help deliver larger, more accurate, and more solidly built models in a fraction of the time.”

The shear volume of printers shipped is also impressive. Gartner predicts that worldwide shipments of 3D printers will reach 496,475 units in 2016, up 103% from the predicted 244,533 units in 2015. 3D printer shipments are forecast to more than double every year between 2016 and 2019, by which time worldwide shipments are expected to reach more than 5.6 million units, the research firm estimated.

Click on the story map below, created by Colourfast, to explore some of the most important locations and moments in printing history over the last 1400 words. Then let us know in the comments section below how your organization has evolved its printer use over time. 

— Hailey Lynne McKeefry, Editor in Chief, EBN Circle me on Google+ Follow me on Twitter Visit my LinkedIn page Friend me on Facebook

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