A 3D-printed etching press makes printmaking accessible for everyone!

Printmaking has been around for more than 500 years. Back then, it was used for illustrations in books, to print banknotes or to duplicate famous paintings. Today, printmaking is known for its distinct look and is being used by artists around the world. However, a lot of people don’t have access to printmaking due to the high costs of a printing press. Especially etching presses for intaglio printing are difficult to find due to the high amount of pressure that is needed. These very heavy and big presses can only be found in specialized workshops or at universities. As an Intermediate exam at KISD, I wanted to address this problem and designed a working press that can be produced with a 3D-printer. Using an iterative process, I built 10 prototypes, printed more than 100 proofs, and used more than a kilometer of filament. The final result is a portable printing press that costs only 5€ of material and can be printed by everyone with access to a 3D-printer. The plans of the »Open Press Project« are completely free to use in order to give access to printmaking to as many people as possible.

A website (www.martinschneiderart.com/openpressproject) with instructions and illustrations on how to produce such a press was designed as well as an Instagram account (@openpressproject) to share the presses of artists around the world. After publishing the project on social media, printmakers all over the world saw the idea and immediately started to print themselves their own press! Art teachers picked up the idea and are now printing in schools and places where printmaking wasn’t possible before. A growing community of artists and creatives around the world are constantly sharing their presses and prints. Additionally, they are working on improvements of the press as well and share their modifications and ideas with everyone. We are currently planning to create an exhibition of people’s prints to give the project more exposure and to take printmaking to the next level. After 300 years of non-existing innovation of the design of a press, printmaking is now accessible for much more people and feasible in places where printmaking wasn’t possible before.