Digital And Flexo Printing Machine-Which Is The Best ?
Flexo printing has become the most commonly used printing technology in the label printing industry today, offering the best combination of quality, productivity and flexibility. But what is flexo and how does it work? In our operator and engineer training, I will explain this printing technique to you. This blog has introduced you to flexo printing and we hope it helps you decide with more confidence which printing method is best for your business.
Flexo is not what you would call a new technology, but it has come a long way with many innovations. These developments make it still one of the most reliable ways to quickly produce large quantities of high-quality custom labels. Flexographic printing is a technique that uses flexographic printing machine. In the past, these plates were made of rubber, but now companies use flexible photopolymer plates. The printing plate is wound on a cylinder on a web press. The inked plate has a raised image and rotates at high speed to transfer the ink from the holes in the anilox roll to the substrate; a different plate is required for each color. Thanks to the development of anilox rolls, printing plates, inks, printing presses, etc., you can print images with high line counts in flexo.
Flexo printing is unique because it adapts well to different materials, such as printing on film, paper, cardboard, shrink sleeves, molds, and can use a wider range of inks, including water-based and UV inks. Because this type of printing is durable and adaptable, it can be printed on almost any type of substrate, such as plastic, metal, and paper. Flexo printer adopts the web-fed printing that uses fast drying inks and photopolymer plates. This process is particularly popular in the food and beverage industry. In this article, we will discuss some of the common characteristics of this type of printer and how it works. In addition, we'll examine some of the advantages and disadvantages of a flexo printer. Ultimately, you'll be better able to decide if a flexo printer is right for your business.
Flexo Printing Is A Web-fed Process
Flexo printing is a high-pressure direct-printing process, using a raised image-bearing plate. It is an excellent choice for printing on flexible packaging and various other substrates. Food-safe water-based inks are used for printing on paper and plastics, and the process is also used to produce the outer cover of corrugated cardboard. This process is also known as a web-fed printing process. In flexo printing, photopolymer plates are made from either sheet or liquid photopolymer. These plates are exposed to ultraviolet light, which hardens the photopolymer in the image area. Non-image areas are then removed by washout procedures. Plates are mounted onto a plate cylinder by adhesive backing or plate clamps. The process can be repeated many times and yield a high-quality finished product.
The flexographic printing machine is one of the most efficient printing tools available today. It produces consistent results and is a good choice for long-run or medium-run print projects. It is a popular option in the packaging industry and is an evolution of letterpress printing. The manufacturing of 'flexible' print plates is costly, and the process is most efficient when it is used in large print runs. The main inks used in flexo printing are water-based or alcohol-based. Water-base inks are used on absorbent materials, while alcohol-based inks are used on non-absorbent ones. The inks used for flexography must be able to withstand alcohol, fats, and perspiration. Some solvents will damage polystyrene, so the process must be performed using solvents that will not harm the product.
It Uses Photopolymer Plates
A Flexo printer utilizes photopolymer plates that are made from vulcanized rubber. These materials are attached to rotating cylinders. They can be used to create a wide variety of designs and colors. Photopolymer plates are a great choice for outdoor furniture, banners, posters, and even packaging. The process involves a quantitative description of color values. The plates are then cut to the final format of the print. The printing process of a Flexo printer uses a flexible photopolymer plate. This material has a raised surface where the image will be transferred. The ink is transferred to the material by rotating the plates. The printing process is suited for different types of substrates, including paper, plastic, and other absorbent materials. Unlike traditional metal printing plates, photopolymer plates are flexible enough to wrap around cylindrical rollers.
The photopolymer plate is exposed to ultraviolet light, which causes the material to harden in the image areas of the negative. The plate then undergoes a washout process to remove the non-image areas of the photopolymer. This is the most environmentally friendly process and eliminates the use of solvents and water. If you're looking for a quality photo, this process is a good choice. Another advantage of using a Flexo printer is its ability to produce high line counts. Since the process produces high line counts, this technology is an excellent choice for packaging and label printing. Flexo printing is extremely efficient and provides high quality images. You can print on a variety of substrates, including plastic, paper, and cellophane. The image quality of a Flexo printing plate is superior to other printing methods.
It Uses Fast Drying Inks
A flexo printer works with inks that dry quickly. High-speed presses have changed the solvents used for this process. The typical ink is not mono-solvent; it contains a mixture of solvents including acetates, alcohols and glycols. Figure 1 shows the range of speeds of the different types of solvents. While di-actone alcohol is the fastest drying solvent, the other solvents such as glycols, acetates, and acetates take longer to dry.
The process of flexo printing is ideal for packaging because of its ability to print on a wide variety of substrates. Fast drying inks are essential for this process because they allow for faster printing and curing times. Since inks absorb into porous materials, it is important to choose a substrate with a non-porous surface to ensure a high-quality print. Smooth, flexible packaging helps communicate the message better. It is also important to choose an appropriate font size for the information that is being printed.
Typically, 4-10 point type is used for a standard font size. However, the type size may vary. Flexo printing is a versatile process and can be used on a wide range of substrates, including plastics and foils. In addition, the process is more affordable than competing methods and can produce millions of impressions without compromising on quality. However, flexo printing is not perfect for detailed artwork. It cannot produce incredibly fine details or detailed images, but it is highly effective and can speed up production.
Why Perfers To The Flexo Printing Technique ?
In the past, packaging products were designed with efficiency and durability in mind to protect contents during storage and transportation. But with brand competition at an all-time high, packaging materials have become an essential marketing tool for the industry. However, the materials go far beyond paper and many packaging substrates present printing challenges. Flexo or flexo printing machine addresses these challenges and has therefore become the de facto standard for packaging companies wishing to print on a variety of paper substrates. Flexo printing offers packaging companies more variety, higher quality and lower costs than other methods. Flexo printing uses fast-drying, water-based inks that can be adapted to print on a variety of packaging substrates, from meat, kraft and particleboard, to linerboard, film and even in cellophane.
Flexo inks can be printed on many types of absorbent and non-absorbent materials. However, the inks used in flexo printing not only make it an excellent choice for printing on packaging substrates. The printing process itself is ideal for packaging applications. Rotary press flexo printing uses a flexible photopolymer printing plate that is wound on a cylinder. The plate with the slightly raised image rotates around the cylinder at extremely high speeds (up to 2,000 feet per minute), transferring the image to the packaging material. This means the sky is the limit when it comes to unique branding options for packaging companies. There are obviously great benefits to being able to print logos or other marketing messages on every packaging material used in your operation.
What Is Digital Flexo Printing?
It is a digital option for flexo printing that uses sensors and automation to improve color consistency and accuracy, accurately reproducing any single color from an extended color gamut on every print? Digital flexo printing automates the entire flexo printing process to help reduce lead times, reduce machine downtime, improve accuracy and improve consistency.
Using digital sensors to automatically mix and measure colors while adjusting substrate entry and exit, registration and pressure, digital flexo printing creates repeatable print jobs while reducing ink waste , the unused substrate and the machine time. Digital flexo typically uses seven color gamuts to layer colors to achieve the correct shade. Thanks to this feature, there is no need to mix colors. Inks and anilox rolls can often be left in the press between print jobs, saving time and materials.
Digital flexo printing also allows printers to queue multiple print jobs at once. When the first print job is finished, the second runs automatically without stopping the machine. Additionally, some flexographic printers choose to create a hybrid analog-digital flexo system by installing digital print stations on their existing analog presses. Quality labels play a pivotal role in any product. However, there’s more than one way to manufacture your custom labels. Digital and flexographic label printing are both viable ways to make product labels, but it’s not always obvious why one would be better than another for your business. Let’s break down the differences between the two printing processes (and how you don’t always have to decide between the two).
Flexographic Printing vs. Digital Printing: How They Work
The differences between flexographic and digital label printing largely boil down to how the two processes work. Each method aims to accomplish the same task – print product labels. However, the way they go about this task is very different.
The Flexo Label Printing Process
Flexo label printing is the old-school approach where ink is physically pressed onto either film or paper. This process uses custom rubber printing plates to stamp your design onto the label material. These plates are attached to cylinders so that the flexographic printing machine can make multiple imprints on a roll of labels. Larger projects will sometimes avoid the rubber plates and engrave the label design directly on metal cylinders instead to accommodate massive quantities.
The problem with flexographic printing is that its various costs can add up rather quickly. Every color will need its own plate for your design, which means you’ll need multiple custom plates for every design. That number increases dramatically if you have multiple SKUs. Let’s say you need labels for four different SKUs and each of them needs four different colors. That’s 16 total plates that you’ll need to pay for if you go with flexographic printing.
There are additional costs associated with this flexographic printing. Time and labor is a factor as well. Flexographic printers need to align each plate to create a perfect imprint on each piece. This process isn’t short – some jobs can take days to set up properly. Testing these setups also requires a lot of waste material. It’s not uncommon that 15 percent or more of your material costs go toward waste accrued during flexographic setup.
So why would businesses turn to flexographic label printing if there are so many initial costs and delays? This method is well-suited to handle large-scale label printing projects. Larger quantities help amortize initial costs over a long print run of labels, which is why massive businesses, like Budweiser, use flexographic printing for millions of labels. However, that same scale is less likely to be realistic for small to mid-size businesses.
The Digital Label Printing Process
Digital printing eliminates the need for plates in favor of using technology. Digital label printing presses read art files that lay out your design and call out specific Pantone colors and other key instructions. The printer then uses an electrophotographic process to transfer images onto a material. HP Indigo printers use heated blankets to blend electronically charged particles into a smooth film. This process creates a defined image on the blanket, which in turn is transferred onto the label substrate.
Because of the lack of custom plates and lengthy setups, the digital printing process offers businesses a lot more flexibility and cost-saving capabilities. Because of how they’re made, flexographic presses will use a lot of spot colors. Digital presses do blending to achieve full color label printing without the need to source different inks for every hue.
Digital label printing is also a much more scalable option. By cutting out tooling and setup costs, digital printing can help accommodate your label needs with quicker turnaround times. That time savings means that you’ll get your labels sooner than you would if you had to wait for new plates any time you adjust your order.
While digital offers several advantages, there are some occasions when the flexographic printing technique is necessary. For example, plates are needed to apply flood or spot coats onto labels. In addition, digital printing technology hasn’t quite come far enough to accommodate more than a few select metallic, fluorescent, and pastel inks. Until those specialty inks are developed, you may need some form of flexographic process to enjoy those types of capabilities.
Combine Digital and Flexographic Label Printing for the Best of Both Worlds
While both digital and flexographic printing machine offer certain advantages, you don’t necessarily have to settle for one or the other. Digital label printing is adaptable enough to include flexographic into its finishing processes so that you can enjoy the benefits of both.
During the digital label printing process, printed labels go through a finishing machine to put on final touches such as decorative treatments or print protection. However, some digital label printing companies have flexographic stations incorporated into the finishing process to address specific needs like flood coats or fluorescent inks.
As with traditional flexographic printing, these added finishing processes will still require plates for any custom designs. However, the costs and time associated with tooling and setup are drastically reduced since you’re only making a single plate. Flood coats of white ink or label varnishes won’t require any plates either, as they require a solid stamp that’s already available in-house. In short, you’re still able to achieve the benefits of flexographic printing without all the extra investment or delays.
Find the Right Label Printing Partner for Your Company
Both digital and flexographic label printing have their advantages, but it’s important to find the right solutions for your product labels. At PinLong, our digital label printing technology and flexographic finishing stations allow you to invest in the best, most cost-effective labels for your company. We strive to do more than simply print labels. Our experts work with you throughout the ordering process to enhance your designs and identify potential issues before they become a problem. Thanks to our flexibility, we can deliver stunning labels that cut out costly tooling costs and lengthy turnaround times. Contact us today to have PinLong get to work on your next label project.
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