The first step is to create a plate which is typically made of aluminum, polyester, or paper depending on how long the run is and how durable the plate needs to be for archiving. Once the plate is created, it is wrapped around the plate cylinder and water is applied to the non-image areas and ink is applied to the image areas. Lithography uses simple chemical processes to create an image. For instance, the positive part of an image is a water-repelling substance, while the negative image would be water-retaining. Thus, when the plate is introduced to a compatible printing ink and water mixture, the ink will adhere to the positive image and the water will clean the negative image.
The ideal water used for printing purposes should posses a hardness level of 8 dH to 12 dH and a pH-balance of 4.8 to 5.5. The typical dampening solution temperature should range between 10 degrees C to 15 degree C. At low temperatures condensation water collects on tubes and in the dampening solution vats, and this may lead to the formation of water droplets. Dampening solution additives are complex material systems with various components included to promote adequate emulation and wetting. They are important for pH-balance adjustment and for stabilization protection against corrosion, for a cooling effect, and in avoiding slime formation.