How it works: Offset Lithography Printing


When you send us your work for printing, we may do it on our digital printer, or our lithographic printer. The one which will be used depends on how big the job is and your finishing requirements. If you’re printing in smaller quantities we’ll probably do the job digitally as it is faster to set up and comes out dry. If your job requires the use of our 5-colour lithographic printing press, then there are a few more steps in the printing process, and it will take a little longer, but this process is much more cost effective when printing many copies.

Firstly, a plate must be made from the computer file you send us; our Esko DPX plate system creates polyester plates, a cost effective option; these plates can be made of expensive aluminium, or even paper! In order to wrap around the rotary cylinder inside our Ryobi 525 offset printing press, these plates are very thin. They look like very large versions of the film negatives you use to develop your photographs; in fact they are produced in a similar way – by the use of exposure to light! This exposure causes a chemical reaction that adds a coating to the plate in all the areas which need to be receptive to ink.

In printing, every possible colour can 13be created by combining specific quantities of the four primary colours: cyan (blue), magenta (red), yellow and black. Each of these colours has its own plate that dictates how much of that colour can be applied to certain areas of your printed page. Our off-press control system allows us to control the amount of ink used.

Lithography printing works on the fundamental basis that ink and water do not mix. On the press there are water rollers, which moisten the plates, ensuring particular areas of the image (the damp parts) do not pick up ink; and ink rollers, which apply ink to all dry areas. On the four plates (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) the designated colour ink will be applied to the areas of the image intended to be that colour.

The plates never actually meet the paper; instead the inked image is transferred onto a rubber blanket, which then prints it onto the paper. This is why we call it “offset” lithography printing.

01Our Ryobi offset lithography printer is special. It’s a five-colour printing press; as well as the four primary colours, we manage in-line sealing, which speeds up our drying processes and means you get your printing much faster! We can also do fluorescent and metallic prints!




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  1. glo jebulan says:

    How can i contact you


  1. […] does most of our digital printing. But how does digital printing work? If you have read our blog on How Lithography Printing Works, you will know that for offset printing, a plate of the image that you want to print needs to be […]

  2. […] At Fulprint we have a five-colour lithography printer. This means that it can manage the cyan, magenta, yellow, black inks AND an additional spot colour, in one go. Each of these five inks goes in a separate cylinder of the press. (To learn how lithography printing works, check out this blog post). […]

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