You know how digital printing works, but here’s what you don’t know about litho printing!

June 16, 2013 · Print This Article

Both litho and digital printing services in Brits come with their own unique advantages and drawbacks. While most people are familiar with digital printing (thanks to desktop printers), few people fully understand litho printing and why it’s still such an important printing method today.

Litho printing or offset printing is an extremely efficient and economical printing method and it is widely considered to be the printing technique of choice for many companies. This is because it has an affordable cost per unit when printing large quantities of prints; it prints in very high quality and you can use litho printing to print on many materials other than paper (such as wood, leather, CD’s, DVD’s, metal and cloth).

Litho printing step by step

In order to understand the litho printing process, you will first need to understand the basics of litho printing using a stone and crayons (this is a very basic form of lithography).

  • The key principle: To understand litho printing you need to first understand the key principle of lithography. It is based on the fact that water and oil or grease does not mix.
  • Stone preparation: A stone (or plate – when referring to printing companies) is used to offset graphics, text and images onto materials. The stone that is going to be used needs to be prepared before the lithography process can take place and this is done by smoothing the surface of the stone with grit. The texture of the surface of the stone will determine the harshness of the grit to be used.
  • Making the design: An artist uses an oil crayon to draw an image onto the stone. A layer of powder is then applied and this will absorb any excess grease.
  • Processing an image: A specific type of acid is applied to the surface of the stone. This sets the greasy image in place and desensitises other areas so that they do not absorb ink. More chemicals are then applied and the stone is covered with a thin film of water.
  • Printing the image: A layer of ink is then evenly rolled across the stone. The greasy areas will attract the ink and the other areas covered in a thin film of water will repel the ink. A piece of paper is then placed on top of the stone. Newsprint and a board are placed on top of this to even out the pressure before a pressure bar is rolled over the stone. The image on the paper will be a mirror image of that on the stone.

Luckily we have much more updated printing methods today! Give Minuteman Press a call to find out more about our digital and litho printing services in Brits.

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