It Is also called cylinder printing or machine printing, on fabrics is a textile printing process patented by Thomas Bell of Scotland in 1783 in an attempt to reduce the cost of the earlier copperplate printing.
Bell's patent was for a machine to print six colours at once, but, probably owing to its incomplete development, it was not immediately successful. One colour could be printed with satisfactorily; the difficulty was to keep the six rollers in register with each other. This defect was overcome by Adam Parkinson of Manchester in 1785. That year, Bells machine with Parkinson's improvement was successfully employed by Messrs Livesey, Hargreaves and Company of Bamber Bridge, Preston, for the printing of calico in from two to six colours at a single operation.
Roller printing was highly productive, 10,000 to 12,000 yards being commonly printed in one day of ten hours by a single-colour machine. It is capable of reproducing every style of design, ranging from the fine delicate lines of copperplate engraving to the small repeats and limited colours of the perrotine to the broadest effects of block printing with repeats from 1 in to 80 inches. It is precise, so each portion of an elaborate multicolour pattern can be fitted into its proper place without faulty joints at the points of repetition.