Litho printing (Offset printing) is also known as lithography or lithographic printing. Litho printing works on the basic principle that oil and water do not mix.
A Little Bit of History about Litho Printing
Alois Senefelder invented litho printing and called it ‘chemical printing’ before he patented it as lithography in 1799. A flat stone was treated in a manner so that the image areas attract the oil-based inks and the non-image wet areas repel the oil-based inks. When the stone was pressed against the surface to be printed on, the oily inked image areas leave an imprint of the desired design.
In 1903, litho printing evolve with an American, Ira Washington Rubel. The new era of Litho (Offset) printing was born, by using photographic, metal plates and a three roller offset press.
Litho Printing in the Modern Days
Producing plates digitally has made the job considerably quicker and modern computer controlled presses can speed up the process of colour control and getting plates into accurate register. However, this setting-up process is still quite expensive when compared to digital printing.
The inked image is transferred (or “offset”) from a plate to a rubber blanket. Then the image is transferred to the printing surface. The flat image on the plate carry the oil base ink from the ink rollers, while the non-printing area attracts a water-based film (“fountain solution”), keeping the non-printing area ink-free. The inked areas built up to the final print result.
Printhouse Corporation is a proud owner of the Heidelberg Speedmaster SM 102 – 6 colours. All Heidelberg presses destined for the world market are assembled at the Wiesloch-Walldorf site, Germany in line with strict quality standards. Printhouse Corporation is a FSC certified environmentally friendly printing company and only use printing inks and sealers that are made from vegetable waste, compared to the more popular oil based inks that is not environmentally friendly.
Printhouse Corporation’s Heidelberg litho printing press with the combination of experienced Printhouse Corporation printers, produce high-quality print products ranging from business cards, brochures, and posters to packaging and more.
Most of the price goes into setting up the machine for print before the first sheet of paper is printed and ready for distribution. Thus the more you print, the less you pay per page. This is the most common form for high-volume commercial printing, due to advantages in quality, speed and efficiency in high-volume jobs.
Digital printing is a four process colour reproduction method that uses electronic files and dots to produce an image using ink and toner. It is basically a ‘print straight from disk’ process. The computer works in sync with the digital printer to produce a smoothly finished image.
Unlike litho printing, no printing plates are required. There is less waste of chemicals and paper, because there are no need to check colour levels and to check for registration and position.
Advantages of Digital Printing
- It is cost effective for small print runs, because there is less initial setup involved
- From digital printing, digital machines can do finishing such as creasing and folding, perforation and/or stapling
- Individual sheets can also be personalised as they are printed with a sequential number, name or address
Disadvantage of Digital Printing
- It has no UV protection film coating. This means that the prints are not fully protected from environmental affects such as heat or moisture. If digital prints are managed well or laminated, it will have better results
- Litho printing produce better tints, gradients and large solid areas of colour
- Problems can arise with additional processes like spot ultra violet (UV) lamination or foil blocking
- It is risky to overprint digitally printed letterheads and other materials with a photocopier or a laser printer, because the toner can re-melt and cause all sorts of problems
In the end, litho printing vs. digital printing is a question of which is fit for the purpose.
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