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If books had a small print run, and were not reprinted, the printing plates would become nothing but waste; and worse, if a mistake was found, it was difficult to correct it without discarding the whole plate.When he wished to print, he took an iron frame and set it on the iron plate. When the frame was full, the whole made one solid block of type. When the paste [at the back] was slightly melted, he took a smooth board and pressed it over the surface, so that the block of type became as even as a whetstone.With woodblock printing, one printing plate could be used for tens of hundreds of books, playing a magnificent role in spreading culture.Yet carving the plate was time and labour consuming. The plates needed a lot of storage space, and were often damaged by deformation, worms and corrosion.Movable type (US English; moveable type in British English) is the system and technology of printing and typography that uses movable components to reproduce the elements of a document (usually individual letters or punctuation) usually on the medium of paper.
First, the neat hand-copied script was stuck on a relatively thick and smooth board, with the front of the paper, which was so thin that it was nearly transparent, sticking to the board, and characters showing in reverse, but distinctly, so that every stroke could be easily recognized.As the portable face of ruling authority, coins were a compact form of standardized knowledge issued in large editions, an early mass medium that stabilized trade and civilization throughout the Mediterranean world of antiquity.Seals and stamps may have been precursors to movable type.For each character there were several types, and for certain common characters there were twenty or more types each, in order to be prepared for the repetition of characters on the same page.When the characters were not in use he had them arranged with paper labels, one label for each rhyme-group, and kept them in wooden cases.Then carvers cut away the parts of the board that were not part of the character, so that the characters were cut in relief, completely differently from those cut intaglio.When printing, the bulging characters would have some ink spread on them and be covered by paper.The metal type pieces were more durable and the lettering was more uniform, leading to typography and fonts.The high quality and relatively low price of the Gutenberg Bible (1455) established the superiority of movable type in Europe and the use of printing presses spread rapidly.Not until the Xiping Era (172–178 AD), towards the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty did sealing print and monotype appear.It was soon used for printing designs on fabrics, and later for printing texts.