Gravure printing is one of the oldest printing processes that is still used today.
A distinction is made between sheet-fed gravure printing, for smaller print runs, and rotogravure printing, for larger print runs. The latter is also the most common process.
In gravure printing, the print image is engraved into the printing cylinder (or printing plate). It is then dipped into the ink and the excess ink is scraped off, leaving only the ink in the depressions (cells). Finally, this ink is transferred to the printing substrate using high pressure and the absorbency of the paper.
With less absorbent materials such as metal or plastic, this is achieved through electrostatic charge.
In addition to the high print quality, rich colours and an even ink application, gravure printing offers the advantage of regulating the amount of ink applied due to cells of varying depth. This way, halftones can actually be represented – something that offset printing can only simulate.
Gravure printing is mostly used for magazines and catalogues, plastic and metal foils, stamps, securities or even banknotes.
Gravure printing can also be used for artistic purposes, with the preference for hand-engraving.