(from Greek ????? - lithos, "stone" +
????? - graph?, "to write") is a method for printing using a plate
or stone with a completely smooth surface. By contrast, in intaglio printing
plate is engraved, etched or stippled to make cavities to contain the
printing ink, and in woodblock printing and letterpress ink is applied to the
raised surfaces of letters or images. Lithography uses oil or fat and gum arabic to divide the smooth surface into hydrophobic regions which accept the ink, and hydrophilic regions which reject it and thus
become the background. Invented by Bavarian author Alois
Senefelder in 1796, it can be used to print
text or artwork onto paper or another suitable material. Most books, indeed
all types of high-volume text, are now printed using offset lithography, the
most common form of printing production. The word "lithography"
also refers to photolithography, a microfabrication
technique used to make integrated circuits and microelectromechanical
systems, although those techniques have more in common with etching
than with lithography.