What Is Litho Printing And Is It Still Relevant?

Litho, offset, lithographic, plate... it gets called all these things. You've probably heard that it's dead expensive and maybe even been told it's out of date. Rubbish. That's not true. Find out everything you need to know about litho printing.

So, What Is Litho Printing (In Plain English)?

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 which is then covered in ink and used for printing. This process 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 make sure the inks are mixed correctly and placed in the right order.

Lithography is widely used around the world for printing books, catalogues and posters, because of the high quality results and the fast turnaround. Whilst it takes longer to setup than a digital printer, it’s quicker to do high quantities of high quality repeat items. That’s why it’s great for the aforementioned items.

It gets even better yet.

With LED UV Lithographic printing, the print is a higher quality than standard litho printing, making it perfect for professional marketing purposes. This method dries the ink much faster than natural means, and so preserves the colour and detailing much better.

The same process described before is used but the ink is blasted with LED UV rays to dry it in super-quick time. This also creates a cleaner finish. So it’s win-win.

Furthermore, the ink used is specifically mixed for LED UV printing purposes. It includes special accelerants that cure the ink faster than standard inks, so the end result is super, super crisp.

That technology is a long way from the kind that was invented in the Kingdom of Bavaria in 1796. Originally limestone was used as the printing plate but nowadays aluminum, polyester, mylar or paper is used.

What Is Litho Printing PROCESS Best Used For And Why?

We’ve touched on what litho printing is best used for but here’s a more thorough, but not exhaustive, list:

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

It might also be useful to point out that litho printing isn't quite as fast as a quick digital job for a small order, because of the setup involved.

If you need just a handful of meeting minute documents, for example, any helpful printer would suggest a digital print method was used. But if you need the high quality finish and precise colours, litho can be turned around super-fast.

But generally, litho printing can be used for most cases.

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

In this digital age, there are two things which offset litho printing has to contend with. Digital printers and digital media.

First, the former is a “threat”, for want of a better word, to litho printing because it allows speedier setup and less manual input. This means costs can be lower for quick, low-number jobs than using litho.

But litho printing or offset printing, as it’s also known, is still relevant when compared to digital print techniques because it can accommodate heavier weights of paper and is more cost effective when printing in larger numbers.

Secondly, the fact that offset litho printing can accommodate heavier weights of stock (not sure what “stock” means? Read this glossary), means your marketing or comms materials will be able to compete with digital formats more readily.

In this age of 4kHD and limitless wifi, everyone, from companies and charities to schools and colleges, is able to create beautiful looking content which people can view on their mobile phone.

But the evidence is there that high-quality, well designed content IN PRINT FORM is still massively popular with consumers and readers. People still want to hold printed matter in their hands, look at the rise of book sales with younger people for proof, so if you can produce a high-quality and pleasing piece of printed content, your message will be well received.

Using experts to supply you with litho printing allows you to use super-heavy stock, the best inks and finishes and get allow you to appear to a person’s sense of sight, touch and even smell.

But litho and digital are not the only print options which are relevant today and there a whole host of variants to consider when deciding between them.

If You Want to Find Out More About Litho Printing Services and Other Types of Print, Check This Guide

You can open your own copy of our free guide to all the different print techniques.

Learn a bit more and see if you can use print for your own campaigns... 

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