Relief printing transfers ink from a raised surface to paper. The gravure process is just the opposite. In gravure printing, ink is transferred from a lowered surface to paper. The image area of a gravure plate is cut below or into the surface of the plate, Figure 1-10.
Intaglio (Pronounced in-tal-yo) is another name for gravure. Figure 1-10 also illustrates the gravure or intaglio process. The surface of the plate is inked and then wiped clean. This leaves ink in the lowered areas of the plate. Paper is then pressed against the plate and ink transfers to it.
Paper is flexible. It can bend and stretch to get into the lowered areas of a gravure plate. Figure 1-11 shows how ink is transferred to the paper.
Karl Kleitsch is generally credited with Inventing the gravure process in 1879. In 1894, he developed a press that could print from etched copper cylinders instead of flat plates. Within twenty years gravure cylinders were being used to print a variety of products including a portion of New York Times.
Today both flat and cylindrical gravure plate are used on a variety of presses to print Sunday newspaper supplements, magazines, major mail order catalogs, stamps, and even paper money. Much of our printed fabric is also produced by gravure.
IMAGE REVERSAL. Like the raised image on a relief plate, the lowered image on a gravure plate must also be prepared in reverse. Look at Figure 1-10. Note the shape of the lowered surface that printed the letter P. It is "wrong reading" or backwards. The lowered surface was purposely prepared this way so that it would print a "right reading" image on the paper.