The Litho Printing Process

When placing an order for print with us we look at the best option for you between litho and digital. In this article I really want to show you what happens in the print room when your order goes to print litho, as there is a bit more involved than pressing a button. The process can add a few more days on to your order’s turnaround time but the end result is worth it.

We follow the process of a 12 page A4 Brochure that we designed and printed for Keavil House Hotel in Dunfermline.

Once the artwork is approved and set up for print we send the artwork over to our plate maker. The quantity of plates depends on the type of print required. A design which consists of spot colours would need one plate for each spot colour, these colours are mixed using the Pantone mixing guide before being applied to the press. For designs that are full colour we require four plates, one each for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (CMYK). For this full colour brochure we had to produce 12 plates in total (4 for the cover and 8 for the inside pages).

Once the plates are produced we carefully check that all the information is correct against a digital print of the design and that there are no scratches or imperfections on the plate.

Our printer then carefully loads each colour separation plate on to the printing press.

The ink is then applied at the top of the press for each separation.

Once the paper is loaded into the press, our printer then starts the press, constantly adjusting the many settings to get the colour and registration just right. To print on the other side of the paper the printer will eject the plates from the press and load the next set of plates. The printed sheets are then turned over and reloaded into the press to start the printing of the other side.

After the order has been printed we try to leave the print to dry for 24 hours (sometimes longer depending on overall ink coverage or paper). If the print is cut too early it may result in the ink smudging. So when we are happy that the print is dry it will be cut on our guillotine and passed down to the finishing department. For this brochure the covers had to be creased, folded and then collated and stitched with the inside pages.

I hope you liked this little look into our print department and we always welcome our customers to have a look and see what goes on behind the scenes.