Litho printing: The How and The Why

Understand what Litho printing is, its application and its benefits

‘Litho’ is short for Lithography or lithographic printing, and refers to a form of printing in art as well as in the commercial market, where an image is made of a polymer coating applied to a flexible plastic or metal plate. The image can be printed directly from the place or offset, by transferring the image onto a flexible sheet.

The How

Litho printing was first discovered by Alois Senefelder in the late 1700s after he started playing around with reverse imaging art. He made a mixture of liquid wax, soap and rainwater which he used as a “correction fluid”to help him correct mistakes he made on the copper plates, that he used in this art form. Through experimentation, he was led to limestone and the use of his correction fluid, where the correction fluid would be used to draw on the limestone which gave him an image resistant to water. This formed the foundations of litho printing as we know it today. The rest is history.

Today, the litho printing is mostly computer driven, however, the same traditional principles are still used to get water based inks onto a page. The traditional four colours are still used in litho printing: Cyan (blue), Magenta (Pink), Yellow and Black.


The Why

While litho printing is not the only method of printing available commercially, there are some advantages to it.

  • Litho offers excellent image quality at costs that are relatively low when compared to other printing methods which can cost up to 10 times more.
  • Printing material is not a limitation with litho printing as this method gives its users the flexibility of printing on a variety of surfaces, with its only limitation being that the surface needs to be smooth.
  • When it comes to saving costs, litho is your best bet as it is up to 10 times more affordable to print with this method compared to the various other printing methods.
  • Litho printing offers the best colour consistency.


Litho printing is only one of many print methods and may not be a good option for smaller print jobs but, works perfectly for bulk print jobs where 3000+ prints are required.  Magra uses litho to print on PVC, PET, PP, Foil Board, and Carton between 100 and 800 micron. For more information on the process or to get a quote, contact Magra Packaging on 021 448 1399 or send us a request via the web.

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