A few machines have truly changed the world, such as the wheel, steam engines, or the printing press. Maybe 3D printers will be on that list one day too. But for today, you can use your 3D printer to produce a working printing press by following plans from [Ian Mackay]. The machine, Hi-Bred, allows you to place printed blocks in a chase — that’s the technical term — run a brayer laden with ink over the type blocks and hand press a piece of paper with the platen.
The idea is more or less like a giant rubber stamp. As [Ian] points out, one way to think about it is that white pixels are 0mm high and black pixels are 3mm high. He suggests looking at old woodcuts for inspiration.
This might be just the thing for doing something fancy like custom invitations. Seems like it would be pretty hard to do a booklet or magazine, although anything is possible if you are patient. Real type was made with lead and we doubt the plastic type will be quite as durable.
Of course, if you just want the old school feel, you could try a mimeograph or hectograph. In the old days, typesetter put type in from big cases that often wind up now as shadowboxes. But then came the Linotype.