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What Is Lithographic Printing? | How does Lithographic printing work? | Advantages of Lithographic Printing

How Does Lithographic Printing Work?

The process of Litho Printing is based on the basic principle that oil and water do not mix. There are a few steps in the process of converting an image/text into a printed page. The first step begins with the plates.

Lithographic plates have a roughened surface and are coated with a photosensitive (light sensitive) emulsion. This emulsion is a suspension of two chemicals that cannot be mixed together. An example of a common household emulsion is butter or margarine.

There are two ways that the plates are made.
1 - Exposure from light source with film on top of the plate.
2 – Exposure to the plate using a machine that exposes the plate, using lasers directly from the computer.

Both of these ways create a photographic negative of the image/text for print, releasing the emulsion, and transferring a clear image to the emulsion. The final step is very similar to developing film in a photo lab. The emulsion is then chemically treated to remove the unexposed portions.

Once the printing plate has been made, the printing image/text is rendered grease receptive and hydrophobic, or water repelling. The non-printing areas are rendered hydrophilic, or water attracting, and ink repelling. On the press the plate is then mounted on the plate cylinder which as it rotates, will come into contact with the wet rollers by a dampening solution or water, adhering to the rough or negative portions of the image. Then the plate will come into contact with the roller coated with ink, and this will then adhere to the smooth or positive portions of the image.

If this image were to be transferred directly to paper, it would create a positive image, but there would be moistened paper. To prevent this, a cylinder covered with a rubber surface, known as a blanket, is rolled over the plate. The blanket squeezes away the water, and picks up the ink. The cylinder is then rolled over the paper, transferring the ink. This is called “offset lithography” because the image is first transferred to the blanket cylinder, and the image is offset to the drum before being applied to the paper.

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What Is Lithographic Printing? | How does Lithographic printing work? | Advantages of Lithographic Printing

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