Flexography is a sort of rotatory in-line method of printing. As it is derived from a Latin word “Flexo” which is “bending” in the literal meaning, so it is used for printing any flexible material. This includes all the flexible materials such as metallic films, paper, plastics, cellophane, etc.
Initially, it was called a rubber stamp printing method. The very first flexo press was built by Bibby, Baron, and Sons in Liverpool in 1980.
Since then, there are a lot of changes and innovations made in the printing process. As of today, almost 60% of the printing industry is relying on flexographic printing. Now, the modern flexographic printing presses also have die cutting process and lamination services within them. Flexographic industry is growing with great speed due to its increased demand.
If you think about it, you pass through the flexographic printing almost every day. You will find many products around you, whether you are in an office or a grocery store, that are packed with flexographic printing on them. If you want to know, there is a list of the flexographic printing products that you see a lot around you:
Flexographic printing is growing rapidly because it has a lot of benefits over other printing processes. Let’s get deep into the understanding of the difference among other printing processes and flexographic printing.
In gravure printing, a metal plate is used to transfer an image on the substrate. The metal plate has a deep surface on which the ink is sprinkled and it is cleaned every time before using. Whereas in Flexographic printing, there is a photopolymer (rubber) plate with a raised image. Overall the main advantages Flexographic printing has on gravure printing are:
In offset lithography printing, an immediate carrier is used to transfer the inked image immediately from the plate and then it is transferred to a substrate. In short, the image is not directly transferred to the substrate. As compared to this, in Flexographic printing, the image is directly transferred to the substrate from the plate. Not only there is a difference in the process, but also there is a lot more difference in printing type of plate, the substrate, and the ink. Any substrate with a flexible surface can be used in Flexographic printing whereas the only flat surface is allowed in offset lithography.
In digital printing, one doesn’t need physical printing plates to make the image. Instead, in digital printing positive and negative electrons are used to attract ink to the substrate. Moreover, it is still a growing method and thus it has not made any advancements yet like the other printing processes.
As we all know, every printing process has its own advantage and perks. But, Flexographic printing is a leading printing process in the industry nowadays. Moreover, it is known to be the best process for long term ROI for long to medium runs. We have enlisted a few of the advantages of Flexographic printing here for a clearer understanding:
We have divided the process of Flexographic printing into two phases: prepress and printing. Let’s dig into it:
Everything that happens before the printing part lies in the prepress process. In this step, everything that is required to start a press is taken care of. The plates are made either in the house or the shops can be approached that deliver your desired designed plates. For one print design several plates are made, one of each particular color. These different colored plates overlay over each other thus giving color combination and shading to the design.
When the plates are ready, they are placed over a plate sleeve or a cylinder. It is very important to place the plates correctly because incorrectly placed plates can lead to unusual printing result. The slightest difference will give a really bad impact. The ink is prepared in ink-kitchen. The main colors are cyan, magenta, yellow and black and spot colors are made with the mixture of these colors to make a Pantone shade. The colors that are using in final printing are based on customer’s choice.
So, how does Flexo graphics printing works? There are several printing stations to be seen in one press, it all depends on the color we are using for the printing purpose. Each color is printed in each printing stations. The substrate goes through several printing stations. When different colors are overlaid with each other on the top, the actual design is produced.
Initially, ink is transferred from the ink pan over the plate. It is made sure that the ink is uniformly distributed over the plate.
There are two cylinders: the impression cylinder and the plate cylinder. The substrate is passed between them. Through impression cylinder, the design of the plate is transferred on the substrate. When the substrate is fresh, it is passed through a dryer. The substrate then goes to other printing stations once the ink has dried. When everything is done, the substrate is passed through additional dryers to avoid any solvent.
Now, at the end of it, other processes such as die-cutting. Laminating, sheeting, etc. is done. It is all a built-in process and done by the machine.
This all makes the Flexo graphics printing, the best printing solution right now with very easy and quality process. Along with being user and environment-friendly, flexographic printing is cost-efficient as well thus giving you the best solution to your printing needs.
Flexographic printing a great way to design your labels and meet the product product printing specifications. To know more about this, you will find this helpful.