by Jason Snell
Letterpress, meet 21st century
Here’s a fun story from my pal Glenn Fleishman about traditional printing methods being revived with a 21st-century spin:
Standing in Glowforge’s offices, I dragged an image file I’d exported from Illustrator into Glowforge’s cloud-based Web app. A camera inside the cutter let me visualize exactly where the type would be cut out of 1/8th-inch maple plywood in the device’s bed.
A few minutes later, I had the numbers in my hand. They were carved with digital perfection, as neatly as if they’d been printed onto paper. The next step is to mount them on about 0.8″ of plywood to bring them to the height required by a letterpress.
Yep, 3D printers and laser cutters are being used to create type for use in printing presses. Glenn gave me a tour of the School of Visual Concepts when I was in Seattle last month, and I was struck by how beautiful the printing machinery was—and how well it’s cared for. It’s all a pretty amazing mixture of old tech and modern ingenuity.