At R&D editions, we create fine art limited editions of prints by collaborating with artists, scientists and engineers. Through a process that can sometimes take months of discussion and experimentation, the collaborator and printer create a design and execute the production of the prints. Most printmaking processes are open for use, the only limitations being size and safety. There are four main categories for printmaking processes: relief, intaglio, planographic and stencil.
Relief printmaking is commonly understood as woodcut or wood engraving but it encompasses any process where cuts are made into the substrate and ink is rolled over the surface. This prints the top surface with the cut out areas showing lower colors or the paper. Letterpress is another form of relief though the printmaker does not make the individual letters but arranges them in the intended design.
Intaglio refers to the scoring or cutting into the surface of the substrate but pushing the ink into those areas rather than rolling over the surface as in relief. Most commonly intaglio is done with zinc or copper plates, but plexiglass can work for some processes. Photographic intaglio methods utilize films on plates or specially-made light sensitive emulsions built up on steel backing sheets.
Lithography is a planographic process where the artist draws on a honed Bavarian limestone or a prepared aluminum plate. The process benefits from the natural reaction between oil and water. By using a grease crayon to draw and wiping the surface with water, the drawing is left open to accept ink while the rest of the surface is protected. The paper is pressed against the substrate with great pressure and the ink transfers from the drawn areas to the paper. Photographic versions were developed in the last century leading to commercial offset printing.
Silk screen printing is the main form of stencil used in printmaking. By applying a light sensitive emulsion to a stretch polyester mesh, an image can be exposed and prepped for printing. Using a squeegee, ink is pushed through the screen to the paper and repeated with new layers to build the image.