Printing has played a very impor- tant role in the history of civilization. Woodblock printing was in use at the time of the Sui Dynasty. But it involved a laborious and expensive process. Bi Sheng of the Northern Song Dynasty was a smart printing worke r , a n d h e i n v e n t e d moveable type of printing. He carved characters in reverse on blocks of clay. When a group was finished, the blocks were baked in a kiln. The slugs of type were pressed onto a coating of rosin, wax and paper ash spread on an iron tray, which was then heated and cooled to fix the slugs. If there was a wrong character, it could easily be replaced, and the tray, slugs and coating could be used over and over again. Bi Sheng laid the foundation for improving the technique of printing. There was wooden type in West Xia, and in the Ming Dynasty, bronze type was invented, and later lead type was used.
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