From the Archives no. 3—Plastic type

In the spirit of its title, this intriguing item is from the Share Your Knowledge Review*, March 1941, p. 44.

“Printing types cast in plastic material, according to an  article in Schweizer Reklam for December, 1940, are apparently destined to replace type cast in the traditional lead.” Dr. Paul Thomas Fischer of Weimar has patented a process for producing plastic type. It is lighter and more hygienic than lead and tests have shown it to produce a clean impression even on long print runs.

The short note does not say when Dr. Fischer received his patent but the exigencies of war, which wreaked havoc on type foundries, may have spurred his research. Or it may have been an outgrowth of the newfound interest in plastics in the 1920s and 1930s.

Letterpress printers today who decry the use of polymer plates are surely glad that the prediction that Dr. Fischer’s invention would replace lead type.

*Share Your Knowledge Review was published by the International Association of Printing House Craftsmen, Inc.