The History of Litho Printing

Lithography or litho printing is a relatively young form of printing as compared to screen printing and others methods. The process was discovered by Alois Senefelder in 1799 and ultimately changed the face of the printing industry. Senefelder is also recognized with the discovery of the transfer process. Through trial and error he realized that he could transfer illustrations and scripts from paper onto the lithographic stone to create the printing image. This discovery gave birth to ability to ‘copy’ as well as the redundancy of reverse imaging.

It was only around the mid 1800’s that Litho color printing was discovered and the art of litho printing became even more popular towards the late eighteenth century when the first rotary lithographic press was invented. This allowed for the mass production of prints similar to that of letterpress printing but unfortunately the abrasive action of the rotary machine made the images on the stone plates wear off too soon and the rotary lithographic presses never really became popular.

Lithography however got another boost in1855 with the advent of Photolithography. Again, difficulties in the creating of the lithographic plates resulted in this printing technique becoming dormant. But the wait was not too long and by the late 1800’s the lithographic offset press was invented which ultimately resulted in lithography really taking off and more interest taken in this printing technique.

This brings us to present day where limestone plates have been replaced by metal plates for the stencils and three roller offset presses introduced. Lithographic printing or lithography has come a long way from its point of origin and has further been refined by MNI printer's processes to deliver large quantity and high quality prints and really affordably rates.

For a more in depth account of the origins and definitions of lithography visit Wikipedia.