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History of Waterless Printing

Waterless printing was invented by 3M in the 1960’s. The 3M trade-name was Driography. The main difference of Driographic from Lithographic plates is that non-image areas, instead of being water receptive, are coated with a thin (1-2 micron) layer of silicone polymer. With specially formulated inks the silicone non-image repels the ink completely. There is no need for a plate dampening system. The original 3M Driographic plates were easily scratched and no press temperature control was available. Eventually 3M sold the invention to Toray Industries in Japan. Toray dramatically improved the plates and press temperature control systems were developed. Eventually CTP versions of Waterless plates were introduced and the Waterless printing process became a commercial success.