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The Art and Science of Copper Plate Printing: A Comprehensive Guide to Modern Techniques and History

Copper plate printing has been an essential part of the printing world for centuries. This remarkable technique has stood the test of time and continues to be a popular choice for artists and printmakers alike. In this blog post, we will delve into the fascinating world of copper plate printing, exploring its history, the process, and modern techniques that have evolved over time. So, let's embark on a journey to discover the intricacies of this wonderful art form.

A Brief History of Copper Plate Printing

Copper plate printing, also known as intaglio printing, dates back to the 15th century. The technique was first developed in Germany, where it quickly gained popularity among artists and printmakers. It soon spread throughout Europe, reaching its peak during the 17th and 18th centuries. As a testament to its longevity, copper plate printing continues to be practiced today, with many artists and printmakers still using this traditional method to create stunning works of art.

The Copper Plate Printing Process

Copper plate printing is an intaglio printmaking technique, which means that the image is incised into a surface and the incised line or sunken area holds the ink. The process begins with the preparation of the copper plate. The plate is first polished to remove any imperfections and create a smooth surface. Next, the artist applies a thin layer of wax or another acid-resistant substance, known as a ground, to the plate.

The design is then etched or engraved into the ground, exposing the copper beneath. There are several methods for creating the design, including using a sharp tool called a burin, or using a chemical process called etching. Once the design is complete, the plate is submerged in an acid bath, which eats away at the exposed copper, creating grooves and lines that will hold the ink.

After the plate has been etched, the ground is removed, and the plate is cleaned and inked. The ink is carefully applied to the plate, ensuring that it fills all the grooves and lines. The surface of the plate is then wiped clean, leaving ink only in the etched areas.

Finally, a damp piece of paper is placed on top of the inked plate, and the two are run through a printing press. The pressure from the press forces the paper into the grooves, transferring the ink and creating a print. This process can be repeated multiple times, allowing the artist to create a series of identical prints known as an edition.

Modern Techniques in Copper Plate Printing

While the basic process of copper plate printing has remained largely unchanged over the centuries, there have been some notable advancements in the techniques and materials used. Here are a few examples of modern innovations in copper plate printing:


Photogravure is a process that combines photography with traditional intaglio printmaking. In this technique, a photographic image is transferred onto a copper plate, which is then etched and printed using the standard copper plate printing process. This allows artists to create highly detailed, continuous-tone images that retain the rich textures and tones of the original photograph.


Aquatint is a technique that allows artists to create areas of tone and shading in their prints. This is achieved by applying a fine dusting of powdered resin to the plate, which, when heated, adheres to the surface and creates a porous ground. The plate is then etched, creating a series of tiny dots that hold ink and produce a range of tones when printed. By varying the exposure time and the strength of the acid, artists can achieve a wide range of textures and shades.


Drypoint is a technique that involves drawing directly onto the copper plate with a sharp, pointed tool. This creates a rough, raised edge, known as a burr, which holds the ink and produces rich, velvety lines when printed. Drypoint is often used in combination with other intaglio techniques, such as etching or engraving, to create a more dynamic and expressive image.

Digital Intaglio

Digital intaglio is a relatively new technique that combines digital technology with traditional copper plate printing. In this process, a digital image is printed onto a specially coated copper plate using an inkjet printer. The plate is then etched and printed using the standard intaglio process. This allows artists to create highly detailed, multi-layered images

CNC Copper Machining

CNC Machining Copper Material is good electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity, it is soft and good for machining as it has high plasticity, it is easily and rapidly to carry out desired shape as machining cutter can run faster than other steel materials, and also reach high precision.

Copper has a shiny reddish-orange finish, which varies slightly based on the surface finish method. Copper can be media-blasted and polished to achieve many different cosmetic surface finishes.

CNC Machining Copper Parts are widely used in the manufacture of electrical wires, cables, electric brushes, electric spark, and other electrical devices and products.

CNC Copper Machining

Benefits of CNC Copper Machining

1/ CNC Machining Copper Parts are excellent in electricity conductivity, supporting very good electric function

2/ CNC Machining Copper Parts are soft, easy to design into different shape, also suitable for many processes

3/ Copper is easy for cutting and machining, its production efficiency is much higher than steel series

4/ Good propriety for bending and shaping

5/ Heat transferring function very good, high resistance, temperature stability, long durable using

6/ Stable surface, non-surface treatment is durable, electroplating is also used on copper parts

CNC Copper Machining

Composition And Property of CNC Machining Copper

Copper Property Alloy Type Content Melting Point Hardness Tensile Strength Density
Cu-based Zn, Sn, Si, Al, Ni 1083°C HB35-45 Low 8.9 g/cm3

Common Materials Code of CNC Machining Copper

Copper Alloy Workable Processes Surface Finishing for Copper Parts Materials Code
CNC Turning, CNC Milling, CNC Drilling, Molding, Forging, Fabrication, Welding, etc. Passivation, Anodizing, Plating, Chemical Polishing, etc. Copper 110
Copper 101
Copper 145
other more Copper Alloy

Asianstar: Professional CNC Machining Supplier

From year of 2005, Asianstar Company establish the CNC Machining Factory in Guangdong Province, China.
We mostly provide CNC Turning, Milling, Drilling, Grinding, and Multi Machining processes service on various materials.
With the Belief of becoming a key supplier in the supply-chain of Precision Components, we strictly control our product quality, keep high precision on our components production, buildup the whole-process QC System and submit the satisfaction for every order.
By long term development, we have buildup partnership with world-wide clients, supporting our partners in Designing, Optimizing, Producing and Testing on each type of components.


Advantages of Asianstar CNC Copper Machining

Strong Facilities

Asianstar many CNC and stamp machines allow us to produce various copper parts, different sizes, and structures are all well done by suitable solution

Long-term Skills

Asianstar professional engineers team has experience from year 2005, producing copper parts for world wide electric products

Stable Quality

Asianstar QC system and QC tools guarantee our products are perfect result. We have procedures to control copper parts quality during production

Competitive Price

Asianstar aim to buildup partnership with clients, always choose best suitable facilities to carry out the components in competitive prices


CNC Brass Machining


CNC Machining Brass material is used for wide range components, we support clients to produce a variety of parts such as gears, locks, electronics, pipe fittings, etc.

CNC Copper Machining


CNC Machining Copper material is soft and easy to machining on different shape of components. We mostly produce copper components for electric devices by machining and stamping

CNC Aluminum Machining


CNC Machining Aluminum materials is one of our most used materials. We support clients to turning, drilling or milling on aluminum material from size 0.5mm to 470mm

CNC Stainless Steel Machining

Stainless Steel

CNC Machining Stainless Steel are common material for wide range components, we produce Stainless Steel turning parts, milling parts, high smoothness components, etc.

CNC Titanium Machining


CNC Machining Titanium material brings components superb features, we use titanium to produce high precision work-piece for clients from aircraft, aerospace, medical devices

CNC Plastic Machining


Our CNC Machining Plastic materials includes ABS, HDPE, LDPE, Nylon, POM, Peek, Polycarbonate, etc. We produce them in high precision and high smoothness.


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