Large Format Litho Printing

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Dennis Maps are Experts in Large Format Litho Printing

Why is large format litho printing the best solution for map printing?

Large format litho printing is essential for the production of large paper maps. The increased size of paper enables a superb amount of cartographic detail to be reproduced in a way that is just not possible on a smaller sheet of paper or on the screen of an electronic device.

Why could large format litho printing be the right solution for you?

Large format litho is more cost effective than digital printing when printing in larger numbers, and whilst it takes longer to set up than a digital printer, it is quicker to print large quantities of high quality repeat items.

  • Quality – The very high quality of the print produced by our machine allows for accurate colour reproduction of fine detail.
  • High speed printing – Our press is capable of high running speeds of up to 10,000 sheets per hour in large format.
  • Large volume printing – Our large format litho press is able to produce an average of up to 15,000 sqm of paper per hour.
  • Extensive choice of paper stocks – We have a wide range of paper stocks available, including specialist map papers as used by Ordnance Survey. We are experts in the field of printing using synthetic materials such as Polyart (which is waterproof and tear-resistant) and EnDuro (which is weather-resistant and tearproof).

Printing on these materials in a large format size is a challenge that our experienced printers relish. It is certainly not for printers with a faint heart and little experience of working with these materials.

What is large format litho printing?

Large format lithography is widely used around the world for printing maps, posters, books and catalogues because of the high quality results that can be achieved in large quantities with a fast project turnaround.

Our KBA 162a large format printing press allows us to print in up to six colours on a massive sheet size of 1200mm x 1620mm. This allows for plenty of flexibility when it comes to deciding upon the design and format of your map.

We know that the choice of paper is important too and we have a range of different papers and materials to choose from, including waterproof and weather-resistant options.

So how does lithography work?

Lithography was invented in 1796 and originally involved the use of wax, oil or fat. Luckily we have moved on since then!

How lithography works now … very quickly!

Lithography (or litho printing for short) is in very simple terms the best technology to achieve large volume high quality prints.

In offset lithography the printed image is achieved through a fine chemical balance of water and oil-based inks. The image areas of the printing plate receives the ink and repels the water that is also used in the process. Whereas the non-image areas of the printing plate are water-receptive.

The water wets the non-image areas of the plate and prevents the ink from adhering there, meaning that it does adhere to the ink-receptive image areas.

How lithography works now … in more detail!

The image to be printed can be created on the printing plate by direct laser imaging in a CTP (Computer to Plate) device known as a plate-setter.

The positive image to be printed is the emulsion that remains on the plate after imaging. Non-image portions of the emulsion are removed by a chemical process (although advancements in technology mean that plates have become available that do not require such processing).

The plate is affixed to a cylinder on the printing press. Dampening rollers apply water, which covers the blank portions of the plate but is repelled by the emulsion of the image area. Hydrophobic ink, which is repelled by the water and only adheres to the emulsion of the image area, is then applied by the inking rollers.

If this image were transferred directly to paper, it would create a mirror-type image and the paper would become too wet. Instead, the plate rolls against a cylinder covered with a rubber blanket, which squeezes away the water, picks up the ink and transfers it to the paper with uniform pressure.

The paper passes between the blanket cylinder and an impression cylinder and the image is transferred to the paper. Because the image is first transferred, or offset to the rubber blanket cylinder, this reproduction method is known as offset lithography or offset printing.

Other applications of large format litho printing

Large format litho printing can also be used for the production of large posters. These can either be left flat ready for display or alternatively can be supplied rolled in a tube or folded, depending on your requirements.

How is large format litho printing different to other types of litho printing?

Large format litho printing is not as widely used as other forms of litho printing, such as medium and small format and therefore requires a very different approach.

Large format litho printing is very specialised, requiring much larger sheets of paper, a large plate setter, larger printing plates and a larger printing press. This really does make it stand out from the crowd.

The equipment we use

Our machine is a KBA 162a that can:

  • Print to a maximum sheet size of 1200 x 1620mm
  • Print in up to 6 colours
  • Print at speeds of up to 10,000 copies per hour
  • Print on materials ranging from 70gsm paper through to 400gsm board

How can we help you?

Our expert team will be with you every step of the journey and will be able to advise you on how large format litho printing could be the answer to your needs.

We can help you from the very earliest design stage to arrive at a size and finish that is the perfect solution for you.