What Is Litho Printing? And Is It Still Relevant?

Litho, offset, lithographic, plate — litho printing has been called many things over the years. But one thing that stays the same is its reliability as a printing method. But what is litho printing?

Throughout this blog post, we'll explore the long-lasting print method in detail, what projects it's best for and why it's still relevant in the digital age.

So, What Is Litho Printing?

Lithography/lithographic and offset printing — or litho printing for short — is where the image of the content you want to produce is placed on a plate, covered in ink and then used for printing. This process is based on the principle that oil and water don't mix and can be used to print on paper, cardboard and many other materials.

The material receiving the image or words you want to print is placed against the plate, and the inks are absorbed accordingly. It takes great skill to ensure the inks are mixed correctly and placed in the correct order.

Lithography is widely used for printing books, catalogues and posters because of the high-quality results and fast turnaround. While it takes longer to set up than a digital printer, producing large quantities of high-quality repeat items is quicker.

With LED UV lithographic printing, the print is of higher quality than standard litho printing, making it perfect for professional marketing. This method dries the ink much faster than natural means, preserving the colour and detailing more effectively.

The standard litho printing process is used, however the ink is blasted with LED UV rays to dry it quickly. This also creates a cleaner finish for your final product.

The ink used is also specifically mixed for LED UV printing purposes. It includes special accelerants that cure the ink faster than standard inks, making the result crisp and clear.

What is Litho Printing Best Used For and Why?

Litho printing excels in producing high-quality prints with sharp details and vibrant colours. It's generally the preferred method for large print runs of products such as brochures, packaging, magazines and marketing collateral.

It can also be used to print on more surfaces than just paper, such as metal and plastic. 

Here's a quick list of products that litho printing would be suited for:

  • High-quality brochures
  • Catalogues
  • Handbooks
  • Prospectuses
  • Magazines
  • Promotional posters
  • Anything that needs sharp, vibrant printing in high-numbers

It's worth mentioning that litho printing isn't quite as fast as a digital alternative for a small order because of the setup involved.

Any helpful printer would suggest a digital print method if you only need a handful of documents. However, litho can be turned around much quicker if you need a high-quality finish and precise colours.

Why Is Litho Printing Still Relevant When We Have Digital Print Methods?

In the digital age, there are two things that litho printing has to contend with — digital printers and digital media.

Digital printing methods can be set up quickly and require little manual input, which often means costs can be lower for fast, low-quantity jobs.

However, litho printing is still relevant in the industry as it can accommodate heavier weights of paper and is more cost-effective when printing in larger numbers.

Secondly, offset litho printing can accommodate heavier weights of stock (read this glossary to learn what terms like 'stock' mean), meaning your marketing or comms materials will be able to compete with digital formats more readily.

In today's digital world, everyone, from companies and charities to schools and colleges, can create eye-catching content which people can view on their mobile phones.

But there’s evidence that high-quality, well-designed print materials are still massively popular with consumers and readers. The number of consumers visiting an advertiser's website is also increasing, up to 27% from just 12% in 2009.

When Should Your Business Consider Litho Printing?

Litho printing is an excellent choice for your print materials when you want to produce high-quality print at high volume.

There are certain circumstances in which you should consider litho printing, including:

  • Large print runs: If your business requires a high volume of printed materials, litho printing can often be cost-effective.
  • The need for colour precision: When colour accuracy and consistency are crucial, litho printing can ensure a precise reproduction of your assets.
  • Special finishes: Litho printing can facilitate special finishes like metallic inks, varnishes or embossing.
  • High-quality imagery: If your project requires high-resolution images and fine details, litho printing is often unmatched in its ability to deliver this.

Discover More About Litho Printing in Our Guide

Want to learn about the different printing methods available to you? Open your copy of our free guide to printing methods by clicking below.

Discover more about modern printing methods and see if you can use print for your campaigns.

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