Litho Printing – what is it and what are the Benefits?
Litho printing, or offset lithography to give it its full name, is one of the most commonly used printing methods. It is used to produce large runs of products such as books, catalogues, newspapers, posters, magazines, and product packaging. When used to produce high volumes, litho printing is cost-effective and has a very fast turnaround.
Let’s take a detailed look at the benefits of litho printing.
How does Litho printing work?
The fact that water and oil do not mix is key to the process of lithographic printing. The words and text that need to be printed are engraved onto a plate, which is dampened by water to keep the ink from running into the areas that will not appear on the final print. Ink is then applied to the plate, which is pressed against a rubber blanket on a roller. This rubber blanket, now bearing the image from the plate, turns and transfers the image to the paper being fed underneath it. Is it because of the fact that the plate itself does not touch the paper that the process is called ‘offset lithography’.
So what are the benefits of printing this way?
Because of the way the printers are designed, many lithographic printers are configured to print simultaneously on both sides of the paper. This potentially cuts printing times in half, greatly increasing the output of the printer. Lithographic printers can produce tens of thousands of printed sheets per hour, making them perfect for printing volumes with lots of pages, such as books, catalogues, and magazines.
Greater image and letter clarity
You get smooth, well defined images when printing with lithography. The rubber sheet which transfers the image to the paper can bend to accommodate most paper types and materials, so you get a crisp, clear finish regardless of the material you are printing on. You also avoid creating impressions and marks in the paper, which metal plates can often do.
Offset printing is often carefully controlled by computers, making minute adjustments in the blink of an eye to ensure that you get the best image and text quality possible.
Save money on bigger runs
Setting up a print run is the most expensive part of lithographic printing. Once it is up and running, however, the machines require little maintenance, and the cost of each page to print decreases as the volume of pages increases. This means that large runs are highly affordable. While an expensive method for short runs, if you have a big need for high quality printing, litho is the most affordable way to go.
Is litho printing environmentally friendly?
Depending upon the printing service you use, litho printing can be a responsible way of printing. There are ways of improving the effectiveness of the printing process, such as using oil-free inks and energy efficient equipment that reduce the impact of printing upon the environment.
And don’t forget to talk to your printer about using recycled paper!