Applications Of Litho Printing

What Is Litho Printing

History of Lithography

Applications of Litho Printing

The Lithographic Printing Process


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Lithography or litho printing is probably the most versatile and unrestrictive printing process that exists.

Artistic Use Of Lithography

Artists love it because it gives them the freedom of expression. They can use pencils, pens, crayons, oils and brushes to create masterpieces of equal impact. 19th century artist like the famous Goya and Delacroix are the creators of the most famous lithographic posters ever. They too used lithography to express their creativity.

Even today, art students and artists love the creative freedom litho printing provides. The artist not only brings himself to the creation, but the printing process also adds to the masterpiece. Indeed, Robert Rauschenberg’s lithograph titled Accident is an example of how artistic expression and the printing process interact to produce a spontaneous work of art. In Rauschenberg’s case the stone broke during the proofing stage. He recreated the image only to have the second stone break as well. He then proceeded to make the prints with the broken stone anyways and named the print ‘Accident’. The breaks are clearly evident in the final work.

Commercial Use Of Lithography

Commercially traditional litho printing as promoted by Senefelder is not viable. It is photolithography that has played a vital role.

In photolithography a photographic negative is used along with gelatin covered paper to transfer the image to the stone or metal plate. Thanks to the use of photographic transfer the old method of drawing the image onto the stone has been eliminated. This save considerable time and effort and allows for complex images to be created within no time at all.

The use of metal plates instead of stone has also helped encourage litho printing applications. The metal plates can be mounted on rotary litho presses easily and this significantly increases the speed and quantity of production.

Today, lithographic principles of using a single surface for the image and non-image areas and that oil and water do not mix, form the basis of offset printing. The commercial applications of litho printing are thus widespread and in fact seen everywhere around us. Magazines, photographs, cards, post cards, brochures, promotional material and everything else you can think of uses litho printing principles.

Thus, lithographic printing has finally come of age and received its dues.

 As a printing process lithography is probably the most unrestricted. It produces tones ranging from intense black to the most delicate gray as well as a full range of colors. It also simulates with equal facility the effects of pencil, pen, crayon, or brush drawing. White lines are readily produced by scratching through the drawing on the stone. Several hundred fine proofs can be taken from a stone. The medium was exploited by many artists in the 19th cent., including Goya, Delacroix, Daumier, Gavarni, Manet, Degas, Bonnard, Whistler, and Toulouse-Lautrec, whose posters are among the most celebrated lithographic masterworks. In the United States, A. B. Davies, George Bellows, Joseph Pennell, and Currier and Ives are among the many artists noted for their lithographs.

For the commercial reproduction of art works, photolithography has played an increasingly important role. In this process a photographic negative is exposed to light over a gelatin-covered paper. Wherever the light does not strike the gelatin, the latter remains soluble while the other parts are rendered insoluble. When the soluble portions are washed away, the pattern to be printed can be inked and transferred to the stone or plate. Color lithography and color photolithography require as many stones or plates as the number of colors employed. The commercial printing applications of the lithographic process are vast in scope and almost unlimited in number.

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