What is Litho Lamination?

litho laminationLitho Lamination, Explained

Litho lamination is one of the most commonly used manufacturing processes to create high-quality, custom graphics on a printed surface. As a process that’s been around for quite some time, it’s one of the most efficient and widely used printing methods, creating everything from corrugated boxes to retail displays, and more.

The process uses a type of equipment called lithographs — metal plates inscribed with an image — to transfer the graphic onto the packaging material. It will use two lithographs — a positive plate and a negative plate — to create the image on the final packaging substrate.

The positive plate is a smooth surface receptive to oil-based inks and will repel water. The negative plate is a rough texture designed to absorb water and repel oils. These plates go through a rubber roller that squeezes out the water and lifts ink from the plate. The roller will then apply the ink onto the printing paper. Once the paper is ready, it’s laminated onto a backing board, usually made out of corrugated material.

Benefits of Litho Lamination

While there are other types of printing processes, litho lamination is by far one of the most widely used because of the range of benefits it provides.

Smooth Surface

The sheet is printed before it’s put on the packaging material, which means you’ll get a smooth surface, every time. Other printing processes — like digital printing — print directly onto the packaging material, which can result in textured or uneven graphics.

High-Quality Graphics

Litho lamination allows for photo-quality printing and a full range of colors. If you’re looking to stand out from your competitors online or in retail applications, this is the manufacturing process for you.


Litho lamination is one of the fastest and most efficient manufacturing processes, which means you’ll benefit from faster turnaround times. When you use this method, you may be able to take your product to market faster.

Disadvantages of Litho Lamination

Longer Lead Times

Though litho lamination is more efficient than other processes, it does have a longer lead time. You’ll have to wait for the plates to be created before any production can begin. Additionally, if you want to make changes to your packaging, the plate will have to be reworked, which adds more time to the production schedule.

Minimum Orders

Litho lamination does require the creation of metal plates, and the use of highly specialized equipment. Therefore, the litho lamination process is most beneficial for larger production runs; it often requires a minimum order quantity, which can be prohibitive to smaller businesses.

Litho Lamination vs. Digital Printing

Digital printing has emerged as an alternative to litho lamination, though it’s not suited for every kind of printing application. Digital printing can be used to create boxes, retail signs, point-of-purchase displays, and more, just like litho lamination. However, the process is completely different. Digital printing applies ink directly to the product packaging, removing the need for plates.

With digital printing, changes can be quickly re-worked on the computer, rather than waiting for plates to be made. However, you won’t get as smooth of a finish as you would with litho lamination. Because digital printing puts the ink directly onto the packaging material, it will exaggerate any texture, resulting in a lower-quality finish.

Digital printing will be best for smaller production runs, as the startup costs for litho lamination are higher. But, if you’re looking to create a longer run, litho lamination will give you a higher return on investment.

Want to learn more about litho lamination vs. digital printing? View our in-depth blog here.

Work with Tyoga Container for Your Packaging Needs

Whether you need a small or large production run, Tyoga Container is here to help you with your packaging projects. For more than 50 years, we’ve been solving the most challenging packaging needs, ensuring our customers are happy with their products, every time.

If you’re looking for quality packaging materials, fast, we have a wide variety of stock options. However, we truly shine by designing, manufacturing, and assembling cost-effective corrugated packaging for our clients. Our facilities use state-of-the-art equipment and employ an experienced team, allowing us to go beyond the basics to meet your needs. Our facilities are also optimized for fast SKU changes and short lead times.

Our dedicated team always looks for ways to say yes to you and no to complexity, which makes it easy and enjoyable to do business with us. When you work with Tyoga Container, we’ll be committed to going beyond your expectations, meeting our promises with the knowledge and ease you expect of a family-owned company that’s been around for over half a century.

Let’s Get Started

Curious to see what we can do for you? Set up a no-strings-attached consultation with our team here.