Engraved roller printing is a modern continuous printing technique developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Until the development of rotary screen printing, it was the only continuous technique. In this method, a heavy copper cylinder (roller) is engraved with the print design by carving the design into the copper. Copper is soft, so once the design is engraved, the roller is electroplated with chrome for durability. The print design development and color
separation are identical to that used for screen printing. Once each roller (one roller per color) is engraved, it is loaded on the printing machine. This machine has a main cylinder that is fitted with a large gear. This gear fits into and drives each print roller. Each roller is fed print paste by a furnish roller rotating in a color box full of print paste. The main cylinder gear drives all of these parts. As print paste is applied to the print roller, a stationary doctor blade scrapes away all the surface print paste leaving only that which is embedded in the design etchings. Fabric is fed to the machine, backed by a greige fabric to absorb print paste flow through, and backed by a cushioning print blanket. The backing greige is often discarded, but the print blanket is washed, dried, and reused. Printing occurs as the fabric swipes print paste from the print roller as it passes through the pinch point between the roller and the main cylinder. The high fixed cost of copper rollers, expense of engraving process, and possible distortion of fabric during printing have led to its reduced use, now being less than 5% of the worldwide textile printing market.The fine design detail possible with this technique has always been its main advantage.