How Offset Lithography Works
Offset lithography (offset or litho for short) is the most common printing method. The inked image is transferred (offset!) from the printing plate to a rubber blanket and then onto the paper. All litho presses basically work the same way, whether they are sheet-fed or web (running a huge roll, called a web, of paper).
Offset inks sit flatly on the paper surface, which is why some people refer to offset lithography as flat printing. So, it’s not tactile, the way that engraving, embossing/debossing, and letterpress are. Color options are almost infinite, and our ink labs achieve great color consistency (including custom matches) and unusual effects. Offset inks are relatively transparent, so we sometimes recommend adjusting the formula to take into account the paper color and printing surface.
Why We Love Lithography
It can be combined with our tactile specialty printing processes to create rich detail and intriguing effects. It reproduces photography with incredible fidelity.
Since its emergence in the ’50s, the offset printing process has taken major steps forward. We now use “direct-to-plate” technology, side-stepping the need to create film prior to exposing the plates. This removes one complete “generation” from the imaging process, resulting in better overall quality and quicker turn-around times. Optional coatings (aqueous, UV and film lamination) and UV inks now enable us to achieve impeccable results on every-day jobs.
Photos: Glenn Schuster