Printing is a process for reproducing text and images using a master form or template. The earliest examples include Cylinder seals and other objects such as the Cyrus Cylinder and the Cylinders of Nabonidus. The earliest known form of woodblock printing came from China dating to before 220 A.D. Later developments in printing include the movable type, first developed by Bi Sheng in China. Johannes Gutenberg introduced mechanical movable type printing to Europe in the 15th century, his printing press key role in the development of the Renaissance, Reformation, the Age of Enlightenment, and the scientific revolution and laid the material basis for the modern knowledge-based economy and the spread of learning to the masses.
Modern large-scale printing is typically done using a printing press, while small-scale printing is done free-form with a digital printer. Though paper is the most common material, it is also frequently done on metals, plastics, cloth and composite materials. On paper it is often carried out as a large-scale industrial process and is an essential part of publishing and transaction printing.