P22 BLOX - Modular Letterpress System
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    P22 Blox is a set of modular letterpress printing blocks made from space age material... plastic! It allows for a wide variety of lettering, expe… Read More
    P22 Blox is a set of modular letterpress printing blocks made from space age material... plastic! It allows for a wide variety of lettering, experimental letterforms and pattern making, giving printers an entirely new medium to inspire modern presswork. Read Less
    Published:
P22 Blox is a set of modular letterpress printing blocks made from space age material... plastic! It allows for a wide variety of lettering, experimental letterforms and pattern making, giving printers an entirely new medium to inspire modern presswork.
This project is a collaboration between Richard Kegler of P22 Analog, Aurora-on-Cayuga, NY, and Jennifer Farrell of Starshaped Press, Chicago, IL. P22 Analog is an offshoot of P22 Type Foundry, a digital type house founded in 1994, and is dedicated specifically to hand-printing and hand-craft along with research related to printing and typographic history. Starshaped Press, founded in 1999, is one of the few design and letterpress studios in the country producing all commercial work and limited edition prints with metal and wood type.
 
P22 Blox was originally intended to be made for personal printing projects, but due to the cost of tooling to make molds and having them professionally fabricated to exact standards, we decided to use crowd funding so anyone can get these blocks in their print shop. And what printer wouldn't want to ink up this space age, experimental type?
 
A little history of modular letterpress type and why we love it
 
In 1944, American Type Founders (ATF) introduced Alpha-Blox, an impressive system of both solid and linear shapes that could be combined to create all manner of typefaces, ornament and pattern in 1- or 2-colors. The design possibilities were endless and limited only to the imagination of the printer/designer.
Also inspirational to this project is Josef Albers' Kombinationschrift und Schabloneneschrift modular alphabets where an economy of a few shapes could render all possible letterforms required. These forms feel fresh and modern despite their age.
Original 1944 ATF metal type sorts for Alpha-Blox
One of Josef Albers's Modular Alphabets
Welcome to...the space age!
 
Looking at materials for production, it was determined that wood would prove to be too time consuming in preparation. P22 Blox plastic will most likely be TPE (Thermoplastic elastomer) which approximates linoleum or hard rubber (similar to mid-century plastic showcard type). We're working with a topnotch manufacturer in Central New York to both preserve the ease of communication about the process as well as keep all production local.
 
Several stages of test blocks were made and tested in print:
-Blocks carved from type-high wood
-3-D printed-sided blocks
-CNC router cut type-high slabs, finished with type shop saw
 
The 3-D printed test blocks have a charm and character of their own. These explored the concept of having two-sided blocks known as Verso-Tiles (so that the positive was on one side and the negative on the other). This concept presented problems for injection molding, but it does allow for an alternative approach. These will not be used as the final P22 Blox concept due to some concern when printing about maintaining the quality we seek with the blocks. However, the 3-D models are available as a reward at the digital level along with the OpenType font used to create the proof of concept artwork and the CAD file. The 3-D files can be sent to any 3-D printer so you can experiment with your own Verso-Tiles.
3-D printed protoypes
Complete P22 Blox Shape Selection for Letterpress Blocks - Digital version includes many more variations
For more information on the development of this project and to get in on the ground floor, visit our Kickstarter Campaign!