Industry News
Digital Printing
About the Flexographic Printing
Source:  Published:2017-12-11 16:27:59

As technology has developed and improved the number of printing technology options have increased, causing confusion about what is the best choice for your labels. While some printing jobs are best suited for a flexography printer, there are variables that can cause digital to be the most appropriate option. Also, unforeseen variables may affect which technology are most appropriate, variables that are generally uncovered while discussing your specific needs with us.
While a label may appear to be just a small piece of paper with adhesive on the back, this seemingly insignificant item can have a major impact on the sale of products. Significant time and energy should be spent determining and evaluating the target audience, selecting the right colors and designing a label that will enhance sales. According to marketing experts, a product’s packaging attracts the consumer’s attention to that particular brand, enhances its image, and influences the consumer’s perceptions about that product. It also adds unique values and works to distinguish the product from other, similar, products. As a whole, the packaging plays an important role in branding and should, therefore, be considered to be one of the most important factors.

What is Flexographic Printing?

Flexographic printing, also known as Offset printing, is a method of printing that uses flexible printing plates made of rubber or plastic. Each plate, with its slightly raised image, is rotated on a cylinder and coated with fast drying ink. The material to be printed on, or substrate, is passed between the print plate and impression roller, which applies pressure to keep the substrate against the plate. This high speed print process can be used for printing onto any number of substrates.

Benefits of Flexo Printing:

  • Enhanced Durability: You can use the flexographic printing method with virtually any substrate. This is especially important with those that are sensitive to heat, such as the direct thermal materials that are printed upon a second time using printers. Labels that need to have a longer shelf life or need to withstand the damaging effects of outdoor use are best created using flexographic printing technology.
  • Speed of Production: Another significant advantage that flexographic printing has over other printing processes is its production speed. Flexographic presses use fast-drying inks that allow the presses to add one color after the next in virtually no time at all. Furthermore, the laminating, die-cutting and other processes like cold foiling are integrated into the press line, making production continuous. Unlike other printing technologies that require the labels to be removed from the presses and taken to another station for additional steps, the flexographic presses enable cold foil, die-cut and lamination to all be completed in one step, making production continuous.
  • Colour Precision: Flexographic Printers use the Pantone Color System, a standardized color reproduction system, to determine the exact color for your graphics. This system is used around the world and allows customers to determine the exact color they want. The color can then be reproduced precisely to customer specifications.
  • Lower Costs: The high-speed and high-volume production in flexographic printing causes it to be extremely affordable for large runs. Furthermore, no work is really needed between the preparation process, setting up the printer and plates, and taking the finished product off the presses, which saves on labor. The reduced operating costs mean cheaper products of uncompromisable quality for the customer.

Drawbacks of Flexographic Printing
While there are many benefits to using flexographic printing technologies, there are several drawbacks to this printing solution.

  • Cost of Plates: The cost of the printing plates is the greatest drawback of using flexographic printing. These plates hold the images that are going to be printed on to the label, and there must be a plate purchased for each color. For a large run, with a large number of labels, the one-time cost of the plates is easily offset by the speed and production costs. For a short run, however, the cost of the plates outweighs any possible production savings.
  • Cost of Image: The act of wrapping an image around a cylinder for the press causes the image to become stretched and distorted when it is printed. Recognizing this, it is necessary to distort the image before the plates are created. The cost of distorting the image is, like the plates, a one-time fee. However, for short runs, this additional cost is a deterrent against using flexographic printing.
  • Registration: Registration is the method of correlating overlapping colors on one single image. Because flexographic printing requires movement during the process of creating the single image, the movement as the labels move from one color plate to the next, it is impossible for the colors to overlap precisely. Instead, traps and bleeds must be used. Trapping is accomplished by intentionally overlapping colors, whereas bleed refers to printing that goes beyond the edge of the label. Both of these printing methods work to ensure that minor problems in alignment are not noticed.