A closer look at the printing process, Lithography

November 28, 2011 · Print This Article

The lithography process has been used for thousands of years. While there have been many technological advances in litho printing, it still makes use of the same basic offset printing principles that were used thousands of years ago.

Nowadays, commercial litho printing machines are used to produce magazines, greeting cards, posters, brochures and many other types of printed materials. One of the main advantages of litho printing is the fact that it can be used to print on a variety of materials, such as plastic and leather. The process may seem like a complicated one, but it is actually quite simple. Here’s a brief explanation on the litho printing process.

This is how the lithography process works

  • Before the printing process can start, printing plates need to be created. These printing plates are covered with photosensitive emulsion and the images, graphics and text (which need to be transferred onto paper) are created on the plates.
  • These printing plates are inserted into the litho printing machine. Moist rollers are then used to apply water to the empty sections of the plate (lithography is based on the basic principle that oil and water don’t mix, so the image areas – which are covered in emulsion – repel the water in order to transfer the image).
  • The image is firstly transferred onto the rubber plate before it gets transferred onto the paper. The rubber plate is used to ensure that the paper doesn’t become too wet.

It’s easy to see when litho printing was used to produce printed materials because this method is known for its high quality output. While litho printing may be too expensive for smaller print runs (of under 1000 pages), it is very cost-effective for large print runs. Another advantage is that you can print on the both sides of a paper at the same time, which saves a lot of time when you need to print magazines or books.

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