What is Lithographic Printing?

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Lithography – Definition

Lithographic printing is a style of printing in which an image is transferred to a printing plate, which is then covered with both water and oil-based ink. Lithography utilizes the natural resistance of oil and water to mix. After the image is applied to the printing plate through a photochemical, mechanical, or laser-engraving process, the printing plate is passed over by both water and ink rollers. The water only dampens the non-image area of the plate’s surface, while the ink adheres only to the image area. This creates clean, highly-accurate copies, in whatever ink color is being applied.

After the ink has been applied, the inked image is then transferred to a rubber “blanket”, which is rolled across the image surface. The rubber blanket then applies the image to the final print surface (usually paper). This passing of the image from plate to blanket to paper is why lithographic printing is also known as offset printing—the image is “offset” as opposed to being directly applied like a stamp.

In order to get accurately colored prints, lithographic printing involves the layered application of multiple ink colors as the printed surface undergoes the same process over and over. The individual ink colors layer together to create the final image coloration. It takes careful planning and preparation in order to get the final product just right. While the set up time for lithographic print projects is longer than for other methods, the actual production of large quantity lithographic projects is quick and very affordable. Lithographic printing is the most common method used in the production of newspapers, magazines, books, and commercial materials due to it’s consistency and speed in completing large print jobs. The litho style can even be used in printing to non-paper surfaces, such as wood, metal, or stone.

Commercial Lithographic Printing

When it comes to commercial printing needs, lithographic printing is usually the best solution. For some projects with specific color requirements, it may be your only option.

Litho printing is cost effective when it comes to large orders, like 100 copies or more. Once a printing plate has been prepared, it can be used over and over again. High quality plates can even last for more than a million prints if need be! Professional printing companies like Sun Print Solutions employ trained lithography experts who know how to prepare the printing machinery, ink, and plates the right way in order to produce the final product you are looking for. If you only need a few copies of an image and don’t need super-precise colors, then the time and preparation required for lithographic printing is probably not worth setting up. But when you have a big order to complete quickly, or you need branded colors, like Pantone colors, then lithography is definitely what you need.

Lithographic Printing Service | Sun Print Solutions

At Sun Print Solutions, we have years of experience helping customers produce beautiful and high quality printed materials. Lithography is a special style of printing that most people don’t have the training or equipment to do themselves, not to mention the time. We are here to help.

If lithographic printing is what you’re looking for, send us the details of your offset printing project! We’ll get to work right away to bring your vision to life. It’s ok if you don’t know exactly what you need right now—our team is ready to answer your questions and help you nail down your project.

Still not sure if litho printing is what you are looking for? Check out our comparison between offset lithographic printing and digital printing. If digital is better suited for your project needs, Sun Print Solutions can do that for you too.

Lithography has been an industry standard since the 1800s, and Sun Print Solutions is proud to provide customers expert quality results using this tried and true method. The results speak for themselves!

Let’s start planning your project today.