With gravure printing an image is etched on the surface of a metal plate or cylinder so that the image you want to print is in the recesses or depressions not the raised part of the plate (unlike relief printing where the image is raised). The recesses are filled with ink and the raised (non-printing) portions of the plate or cylinder are wiped or scraped free of ink leaving the ink only in the recesses. The paper or other material is pressed against the inked plate or cylinder and the image is transferred to the paper.
Like engraving, gravure is a form of intaglio printing. It can produce fine, detailed images and can be used for short or long run printing. It can be used for CMYK printing with each color of ink applied with its own plate or cylinder with drying steps in between.
Descriptions and Illustrations of the Gravure Process
PNEAC: Gravure Printing
Has a simplified illustration of the process using cylinders (rotogravure), ink pans, and rollers. It also explains the gravure process. The site also addresses Web-fed and Sheet-fed gravure printing.
A form of gravure printing that uses etched copper engraving plates.
Rotogravure Printing Machines
Browse photos and descriptions of different types of machines used for gravure printing.
Also Known As: rotogravure
Examples: Like flexography, gravure printing is often used for high-volume printing of packaging, wallpaper, and giftwrap using fast-drying inks. Although less common, gravure printing may also be used for printing magazines, greeting cards, and high-volume advertising pieces.