Also known as lithographic printing or lithography, litho printing works on the general principle that water and oil do not mix. It is much different from relief printing where non-image areas and image areas vary. Here, there is only one surface much unlike intaglio. The image area and the non-image area are on the same level. The flat stone is treated in lithography in a manner that the image attracts the oil based colors or inks. Hence, an imprint of the design is left on the area. This kind of printing is popular and is used commercially as well as in the art form. Art students involved in the project find it very useful. Litho stands for ‘offset printing’. Artists can use this form of printing to express their creativity. The stones which were used traditionally are now replaced by metals and this is a great upgrade in the printing technology.
Litho Printing and Digital Printing
It is true that digital printing has become very popular but still litho printing is a popular choice. The choice of digital or litho depends on the material to be printed, how quick you want the project to be completed and in how much quantity. When considering digital printing, the machine itself needs a lot of maintenance and the cost of printing will be per page. So, even if you order larger print run, there would be no benefit. Then, you need regular supply of inks, replace the components and such elements add to the printing cost. The digital printer also cannot print in the spot color. But offset printing offers the image which is of very high quality. You can use the image on wide array of surfaces like wood, page, leather, metal, plastic, etc. When the quantity increases, the unit cost also decreases in litho.
When is Litho Printing Preferred?
When you need the printing in bulk, you can use this kind of printing. For instance, printing a book. In the book printing, you need large number of high quality images and even the color reproduction has to be of high quality. For the art catalogue, you can comfortably opt for litho.
Greater Speed with Litho
The printers used for litho or offset printing are such that you can print on both sides of paper. This can reduce the printing time to half. The output of offset printer is far more than a digital printer. So, per hour you can print thousands of printing sheets. Hence, print pages in volumes for your magazine, books and catalogues.
The Environmental Factor
Litho is a responsible way of printing. The effectiveness of the printing process can be improved with the use of energy efficient machines, oil-free inks to reduce the impact of the printing on the environment.
Conclusion: If you are looking to save money on the bigger runs, choose litho printing. Once you do the set up, the running cost of the machine will not be much. As the print quality increases, the cost of printing per page decreases. Thus, large runs become highly affordable.