Lithography

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Lithography (from Greek λίθος - lithos, 'stone' + γράφειν - graphein, 'to write') is a method for printing using a stone (lithographic limestone) or a metal plate with a completely smooth surface. Invented in 1796 by Bavarian author Alois Senefelder as a low-cost method of publishing theatrical works,[1][2] lithography can be used to print text or artwork onto paper or another suitable material.

Contents

Introduction

Lithography has also been used for various filmography and other visual things. Lithography originally used an image drawn in wax or other oily substance applied to a lithographic stone as the medium to transfer ink to the printed sheet. In modern times, the image is often made of polymer applied to a flexible aluminum plate. The flat surface of the plate or stone is slightly roughened, or etched, and divided into hydrophilic regions that accept a film of water and thereby repel the greasy ink, and hydrophobic regions that repel water and accept ink because the surface tension is higher on the greasier image area which remains dry. The image may be printed directly from the stone or plate (in which case it is reversed from the original image) or may be offset by transfer to a flexible sheet, usually rubber, for transfer to the printed article.

This process is different from gravure or intaglio printing where a plate is engraved, etched or stippled to make cavities to contain the printing ink, and in woodblock printing and letterpress where ink is applied to the raised surfaces of letters or images.

Most books, indeed all types of high-volume text, are now printed using offset lithography, the most common form of printing production. The word "lithography" also refers to photolithography, a microfabrication technique used to make integrated circuits and microelectromechanical systems, although those techniques have more in common with etching than with lithography.

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