Digital printing has its perks, but litho printing definitely isn’t dead. Here’s everything you need to know about lithography and why it could be the best option for your business.
What is lithography and how does it work?
Litho printing (also known as lithography or lithographic printing) is one of the most common forms of printing.
Put simply, litho printing is a method where the image you want to reproduce is placed on a printing plate or cylinder. It’s then covered in wet ink and used to print copies onto paper or other materials. As the plate comes into contact with another surface, the ink is absorbed and leaves an impression.
Litho prints can be left to air dry but, for an even cleaner finish at Eight Plus , we often use LED UV litho printing or gas/heat drying to dry the ink very quickly, preserving the colour and offering crisper details.
What can litho printing be used for?
Lithography is perfect for all sorts of projects, from text-heavy books and brochures to image-packed catalogues and magazines, and posters and flyers.
Whether you use lightweight or heavy paper stocks, with litho, the print quality will always stay sharp. While each print run takes time to set up, lithographic printers can churn out large quantities of top-quality print very quickly.
Litho uses the best inks to offer unbeatable colour quality and gives a precise finish to any print job, without any ink bleeding. Our Eight Plus experts use specialist colour matching to ensure that the final printed copies will look exactly the same as digital proofs.
What is the difference between digital and litho printing?
Litho printing is very different to digital printing. When it comes to litho vs digital printing, both methods have their pros and cons.
- Uses wet ink and printing plates
- Ink soaks into the printing medium giving a smooth finish
- Takes time to set up each job
- Can print up to 18,000 sheets an hour
- Despite set-up fees, it’s quick and cheap to produce large quantities of print
- High-quality, crisp print for text and images, especially for designs with large blocks of colour
- Good choice for printing onto coloured or textured paper, plus silk, gloss and uncoated
- Suitable for heavy paper stock
- Each new design incurs a set-up fee
- Uses ink or toner on a press (works more like an office printer)
- Ink sits on the surface of the printing medium
- Extremely quick to set up
- Can print around 6,000 sheets an hour
- No set-up charge means it’s lower cost for small-run print jobs
- High-quality, crisp print for text and images
- Great for printing onto silk, gloss and uncoated paper stocks
- Best for lighter paper stocks
- Free to create multiple, personalised prints
In short, both litho and digital printing produce high-quality results; the choice comes down to what you’re printing and in what quantities, your budget, personalisation, turnaround times and materials. If you’re planning a straightforward job using a standard paper stock, the quality between the two won’t be noticeable.
While printing plates come with set-up costs, litho is a more cost-effective method for large, high-quality print runs; whereas digital printers are best for smaller, bespoke print runs.
What is offset lithography?
Litho printing goes by a lot of names. Offset litho printing (or litho-offset) is another name for lithographic printing. There is no difference between offset and litho printing.
Just four colours are used in offset lithography printing: cyan, magenta, yellow and black. As such, it’s also often referred to as CMYK printing, four colour printing or full colour process printing.
Litho print management
As print specialists, at Eight Plus we offer management of large-scale, often complex litho jobs, from proofing and printing, to finishing and distribution. We work with prominent retailers and mail-orders clients (including eCommerce clients with quick turnarounds) throughout the UK and Europe, strategically overseeing their lithography needs.
As well as providing account management for each job, we offer ‘process re-engineering’, which is where we assess your project and re-engineer it to ensure you benefit from efficiencies, paper-saving, yield and discounts.