DSS PLASTICS GROUP, a division of DOCUMENT SECURITY SYSTEMS, INC
Litho printing is also known as lithography or lithographic printing or planography or planographic printing. Litho printing works on the basic principle that oil and water do not mix. Unlike relief printing and intaglio where the image and non-image areas are at different levels, in lithography there is only one surface.
In intaglio and relief printing the image areas to be printed are raised and the non-images areas form the base surface, which is lower than the image areas. However, in lithography the image areas and the non-image areas are all on the same level. The printing surface is flat.
In lithography a flat stone is treated in a manner so that the image areas attract the oil-based inks and the non-image wet areas repel the oil-based inks. When the stone is pressed against the surface to be printed on, the oily inked image areas leave an imprint of the desired design.
Litho printing is one of the few printing processes that are used as an art form and commercially as well. The litho printing process is very simple and in fact very popular with art students as project work. Commercially, litho printing or litho is often used synonymously with offset printing. Lithography is the most recent on all the major printing processes and the history of litho printing is very intriguing.
Litho printing also has many applications today. Most artists use lithography to express their creativity in a variety of forms. Commercially, litho printing has come a long way and stones have been replaced by metal plates. The basic printing process remains the same but has been upgraded with the latest technology.
DSSPG’s primary focus is manufacturing composite, laminated, and surface printed cards, which can include mag stripes, bar codes, holograms, signature panels, invisible ink, micro-fine printing, split-fountain, guilloche patterns, watermarks, RFID (low, high and ultra high frequency) and the robust AuthentiGuard suite of patented, printed security features can be laminated into a card.
A short explanation of plastic card manufacturing:
Printed Plastic Card Manufacturing starts just like any printing job. Sheets are printed on a printing press (we use Litho and digital UV ink presses, to dry the ink the fastest).
After the plastic sheets are printed we collate them together (the front and back are printed on different sheets). These printed front & back sheets are collated together and additional clear sheets are added on top of the front & back printed sheets. The printed and clear laminate sheets are adhered together and brought to the laminating room.
These layered sheets are put into our laminating press under extreme pressure and approximately 300 degrees Fahrenheit. The sheets stay in the lamination cycle for approximately 20 minutes and then are moved into the cooling section and allowed to cool for an additional 20 minutes. When the sheets are removed from the laminator they are bonded together to form one solid piece of plastic with the clear lamination on top of the printing providing a scratch / wear resistant barrier for the ink.
PVC (Credit card material) bonds to itself without any adhesives but other plastics can be used in the formulation to form a more durable card. These other plastics traditionally use a heat-activated adhesive to bond to themselves and other plastics in the lamination cycle.
After the cards are laminated, they are put into our automated die cutter and cut to card size. The electronic eyes on the die cutter aligns to our printed register marks, adjusts the sheet if it’s not straight and cuts the cards at the rate of 10,000 cards per hour.
Cards then can be personalized using many different types of equipment.
Embossing (raised characters), ink jet barcodes or numbers, pin numbers, scratch off labels, signature panels or programming of RFID cards can all be added to the cards.
Magnetic stripes are put on the clear laminate and are adhered to the card in the lamination cycle. When all features needed are applied to the card they go through our Quality Control Department. Cards at DSSPG are individually checked 1 at a time to ensure the best quality cards get to our customers.