The Basics of Flexographic Printing Process That One Should Know About

The Basics of Flexographic Printing

In case, you are involved in working in the printing sector, then you may have come across a term called flexography. This particular term is closely related to the printing industry. Although, it is very common to come across this work, if you are not sure about what exactly it is, then don’t worry. 

In this comprehensive guide, we will focus on talking about this popular printing process. So, by reading this blog post, we would be able to clarify all of your confusion related to this flexographic printing. Without any further ado, let’s get started with our detailed discussion. 

What Is Referred To As Flexography?

Talking about flexography, it is considered to be a contemporary high-speed printing procedure. This printing process is suitable for most packaging as well as label applications. The best part about this flexography is that it facilitates cost-effective, rapid, and high-quality label printing for a diverse variety of goods produced in mass quantities. 

If you do not have any idea about this printing procedure, then you have come to the right place as we will uncover almost everything that you should know about this printing procedure. So, after you have got a basic idea about what is referred to as flexography in this section, we will now move on to how does this exactly works. 

How Does This Specific Printing Process Work?

Well, now moving on to how this flexography printing contributes to work, we will start by talking about the starting material. In this case, the starting material usually comes in the form of a roll. It again passes specifically through many of the rotary flexible relief plates which are arranged serially. 

A particular roller is involved in feeding every flexible plate with the help of ink. Another important thing to know in this aspect is that there is the requirement for a single flexible plate for each individually printed color. The relief plates generally tend to work in tandem to provide every single color for the final print item. 

Again, in certain cases, there is the requirement for some extra processes which include die-cutting, embossing, or laminating. All of these can be effectively combined along with printing in a sole pass. So, it is something that aids in significantly boosting the overall speed of production as well as the capabilities which makes it much more efficient when compared to the other conventional printing approaches. 

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With the help of flexographic printing, you would be able to successfully print on different substrates which include:

  • Metallic surfaces
  • Non-woven fabric
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Plastic film
  • Paper
  • Multilayered film composites

Due to the huge flexibility of this particular material, it is highly utilized for a diverse range of products which include: 

  • Plastic bags
  • Food packaging
  • Cut and stack labels
  • Self-adhesive labels

In this aspect, there is the development of purpose-built flexographic label printing machines. These particular machines tend to provide efficiency. Not only that, but you can also get speed advantages by utilizing these machines over most other label printing approaches. Flexographic label presses can print label rolls of distinct materials rapidly. 

The best part is that you do not have to compromise with the quality in this case which contributes to making it the best-suited print method for beverage, food as well as consumer products. Only important thing is to opt for the assistance of a professional web to print company if you want to achieve the best outcomes. 

Distinctions Existing In Between Offset Printing And Flexography

Whenever it comes to effectively meeting the printing requirements, two printing approaches i.e., flexography as well as offset printing overlap with each other. But there are some major differences existing between these two techniques which one should know about before opting for these. 

Knowing the differences between these two will help you to decide on the best one among these which will be well-suited for your specific requirements. You should also know about the basic printing terminology. Now, let’s have a close look at some of the major distinctions which tend to set those apart:

  • Flexography printing technique generally makes use of rotary flexible plates for direct print on the substrate. But, in the case of the offset printing process, the printing is carried out indirectly particularly via. a series of offset plates.
  • Offset printing is again known to make use of secondary die-cutting, laminating, or folding procedures. On the other hand, flexographic printing tends to effectively combine all of these processes into a single pass operation. 
  • Flexography can be utilized for printing porous, non-porous, absorbent as well as non-absorbent materials whereas offset printing can only be used for working with flat and smooth surfaces. 

Due to the great advancement in the technology of contemporary flexography, it is currently regarded as the top choice for many of the applications. It is specifically because of several advantages offered by this particular printing process. 

Both the manufacturers as well as clients can relish significant benefits by utilizing this flexography printing process or flexography printer. This particular technique tends to provide a very high color accuracy due to the involvement of a dedicated flexible plate for each color. 

Not only that, but this printing method provides rapid printing speeds, operating at up to 750m/2,000 ft. per minute. Flexography process offers substantial economies of scale as it can effectively combine printing with almost any of the additional processes specifically into a sole pass operation. 

With the help of flexography, you would be able to carry out reliable printing on a diverse variety of substrates. You can make use of a wide range of inks in case of flexographic printing which includes UV curable, water-based, or solvent-based inks. So, it specifically adds to the flexibility of this particular method. 

UV Flexography

The technique of UV flexography makes use of the inks which are generally curable with UV light, rather than the standard drying approaches utilized for solvent or water-based inks. One of the best things about UV curable inks is that they can swiftly dry when compared to their counterparts. Ultimately, it aids in reducing the overall time of production. Again, UV curable ink contributes to providing a diverse range of advantages which includes the following:

  • It is very easy to use.
  • It is completely free from VOC or Volatile Organic Compound
  • It dries out in an extremely faster manner
  • It contributes to providing superior print quality which makes it well suited for many of the applications
  • Only when it is exposed to UV light, does it tend to dry and this is the main reason, the print can be left print-ready

Significant Advantages and the Limitations of Flexographic Printing 

There are several important advantages provided by the flexographic printing process which you should have a clear idea about before opting for this technique. In this regard, you also need to know that its advantages are much more than the limitations of this printing process whenever utilized for medium to long print runs. 

Therefore, it is regarded as the best printing technology for long-term ROI. But this printing method is not considered to be that suitable for short-run production. 

Flexography is known to offer best-in-class outcomes along with its speed efficiency. It is something that has led to the continuously rising popularity of this type of printing. Those who are involved in the label printing business understand the significance of knowing about the specific way in which flexographic printing machine runs. 

Throughout the years, a huge transformation is seen in this printing process. The process that was used several years back is not the same as the present procedure. Nowadays, the overall process has become more efficient than before. You will be astonished to know how this particular process has moved on in terms of ease of use, machine development, productivity as well as reduced waste.

If you are thinking to acquire a completely new printing press, but you are not sure about how this printing process i.e. flexography stands concerning the other printing technologies available in the market. Well, in such cases, your main goal is to collect as much information as possible related to this. 

Not only that, but you should also ensure to collect all the latest information concerning this technique. In this regard, it is recommended to never rely on the past perception of an already existing process or invest blindly. 

So, to clarify all of your doubts, we will now begin talking about the main advantages associated with this flexo printing. Once you read this section, you would be able to know why it is a great alternative for the paper, label, or film printing on a wide range of substrates. 

Benefits That Comes With Flexographic Printing

  • Flexographic printing is specifically known for its rapid production process. It takes moderate time to set up the machine which is effectively compensated by the swift production speeds provided by this technique. Moreover, the current introduction of the Servo-based machines is helping to significantly lower the setup times to the extent that it allows even the shorter job runs to be economic. 
  • In this case, a low operational cost is involved. There is no requirement for any special coatings. Both the material as well as ink costs are also very low. Even though the plates incur a certain cost, when compared to the other mainstream printing approaches available in the market, the long-term pricing per unit printed is much lower. 

Again, when compared to the digital offerings, it is only moderately high on the low volumes. Another important thing to know in this aspect is that standard ink costs are relatively low when compared to digital inks. 

  • The equipment of flexographic printing is known to be environmentally friendly. For example, the utilization of water-based inks aids in effectively lowering the environmental impact. Along with that, it also helps to reduce the number of toxins that are released into the atmosphere. The number of released chemicals is also significantly minimized by recycling the ink. 
  • A wide variety of ink types can be utilized in the case of flexographic printing. It includes water-based, solvent, UV curable inks, and a lot more. Due to this particular reason, it is known to be a highly versatile procedure that is well-suited for almost any application. 

Based on the material you want to print on, you will find the easy availability of a wide variety of inks. So, there is no limitation to the substrate that you can utilize in this case, You can carry out your work on some common substrates such as paper, unsupported films, and a lot more.

  • The overall process runs very fast once it is set up. It is especially because the processes are automated up to the finishing stage which includes die cutting, sheeting, over varnishing, laminating, etc. 

Many other types of printing techniques are involved in doing this separately which aids in the prevention of continual production. It tends to make the flexographic printing process a robust choice for the fast turnaround as well as volume production needs. 

Some Limitation of This Printing Technique

Similar to all other printing techniques available in the market, flexographic orienting also comes with certain limitations and it is crucial to know about those. But, thankfully, the disadvantages are only a few, which makes it a worthy and popular option to go for.

  • The equipment used in this flexographic printing is somewhat complex with several important systems built specifically into the process. So, if you wish to avoid costly repairs as well as downtime, you should essentially plan a regular schedule of routine maintenance. 
  • It takes some time for a flexographic press to set up. The more colors are incorporated in this process, the longer the setup time will be. 
  • Whenever it comes to price consideration, the printing plates are considered to be of utmost importance. You also need to consider the reprographics cost to specifically get to the final stage of print. 

Again, in case a particular job is made of many different colors, then you will require to provide a plate for every single color. This printing procedure is considered to be suitable for medium to large printing volumes because of the plate making as well as setup cost.

At The End!

So, the above-discussed ones are some of the most important information regarding flexographic printing which one should have a good idea about before opting for this technique. For both high as well as medium volume production, a flexographic printing press is known to be an outstanding long-term business investment. 

In this case, the equipment sustains for the long term even in harsh conditions. It can print in any virtual material by utilization of a wide variety of colors as well as ink combinations. It also provides high-quality labels and printed films that sell products. 

The best part about this flexography is that it will effectively maintain a top-notch quality in solid color print, process imaging, and fine text printing with a little intervention from the operator. Hopefully, now you have well understood every important thing about flexographic printing. 

Are you thinking to utilize to printing process? If yes, then you should only focus on establishing contact with a reliable web to print store like WTPBiz for your requirements. So, what are you waiting for? Contact us today to know more about our services. 

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