Litho Print


What is Litho Print?

Litho print (also referred to as litho laminated print) is the highest quality print type available for your cardboard packaging.  This method allows very high-quality reproduction of full colour, photographic images.  It also delivers the best and most dense colour on large areas of print (also called flood print).

This method utilises anywhere from 4 (C.Y.M.K – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) to 6 colours and can include matt or gloss varnishes.  You might also hear litho printing referred to as ‘offset printing’.  It is referred to as ‘offset’ printing when the print is transferred on to rubber rollers (or offset) before being transferred to the substrate (cardboard). 

How does litho printing work?

The process is based around the ‘positive’ part of the image being hydrophobic (or water repelling) whist the ‘negative’ part is hydrophilic (or water retaining) – simply put, the ink will adhere to the positive parts of the image.

Then what happens?

This depends on the type of litho print being used for your cardboard packaging.  In some instances, the litho print will be applied directly to corrugated board.  Other methods will see your design printed onto the paper before being laminated to cardboard.

The advantage of laminating after print is that flat paper is a better surface to print on than cardboard and a higher quality result can therefore be achieved.  It also avoids putting the corrugated cardboard through extra processes and therefore maintains the maximum performance qualities.

Printing directly onto the cardboard however removes manufacturing processes and therefore, cost.

When should I choose litho printing?

Litho printing will suit your application if you require a high-end, high-quality print finish.  It is the ultimate print method to reflect your branding.  It does however have a higher unit cost attached to it than flexo-graphic printing.  It also has a higher minimum order quantity attached to it.  A good rule of thumb is if you require full colour or high-quality printed packaging, need 1500-2000 or more of a product and have a good budget, then litho printing could suit you.

The inks used are also very ‘fast’ (ie don’t run or rub) and therefore have excellent durability.  This is an advantage if you want the end customer to reuse the box.

The thin printing plate technology used for litho print means that printing plates are cheaper than the flexo alternative.  Therefore, if you are likely to have frequent design changes (eg accommodating seasonal designs or promotions), litho can offer an advantage due to low set up costs.

If, however the budget is a little tighter or you require fewer units, then check out flexo printed cardboard packaging as an alternative.  By utilising good design, we achieve really striking results using this print method whilst offering lower order quantities and reduced unit costs.

If you require cardboard boxes or packaging on a very short lead time, digital print might be a good option for you.  Likewise, if there’s a variable element within a run (multiple flavour variants, personalisation etc.), digital printing may meet your needs.

If you still aren’t sure which of the print methods we offer might suit your specific requirements, get in touch with one of our friendly team and they can guide you.  Before we speak, consider the following areas:

  • How many do you need?
  • How quickly do you need your packaging?
  • How important is achieving the ultimate print quality?
  • Is there a variable element required to the print run?


We look forward to speaking to you! E: T: 01939 260342

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