Let’s admit it — if you were anything like us two years ago, you do not understand how printing work. It might seem like the packagings you see on the shelves of the supermarket. But as with many things, there is no magic involved. Flexographic printing is the real secret behind most prints.
What is Flexographic Printing?
Flexographic printing is printing that uses rubber relief plates to transfer images, texts, and labels directly on a surface. It is one of the most popular printing methods, thanks to its versatile nature. Packaging printing and industrial printing industries love the method the most.
To make it easier to understand why so many people love it, you first need to understand what makes the method special.
- Fast drying
- Wide-variety of materials
- High-quality color reproduction
- More types of ink
- Higher production speed
You know that there are thousands of different packages — all of them of a different form and size. Often they look so imaginative and crazy you can’t possibly imagine how it would have been to printing on the material like that, but that is when the flexographic printing method comes the handiest.
It is one of the latest developments of the printing industry, and as a good kid, it took all the best from its ‘parents’ and improved upon the method. It took the most from its earliest parent, knowns as letterhead printing — letter printing. The jump might feel unexpected, considering it mainly uses raised images and texts, cut out from the photopolymer compound. But it is just how letterhead machines worked back in the days.
Quickly about the Flexo Printing Process
Since it is our favorite printing method we used to work with many of our packaging clients, we use it a lot. We have been doing for so long; it feels like we know the ins and outs of the process, but still, it never stops fascinating us — there is so intricate to the method you never stop discovering something new, whether it comes to the colors or the of the printing.
We have covered in one of our previous articles, what the process is like in-depth, but here is a quick overview of some larger steps, for all the people that are too lazy to go in-depth into the topic.
- Plate making (including creating digital copies of the plate, cutting the shapes out with a laser)
- Mounting (properly setting the plates for printing, preparing colors)
- Printing (it includes scraping the remaining colors and drying)
So, after the prints are produced and ready-to-go, they reach in the form of the final good. You can see that the method is different — it involves fewer steps and requires much less time. The plates themselves are lasting, you can reuse them many times, without them losing any of their quality.
Applications of Flexo Printing
The variety of materials you can print on, using flexo plates is huge. Yes, it is one of the latest printing methods, but it still earned its place in the prepress industry. One reason, as you will see below, it has such a good reputation is its flexibility. Just as the plates themselves, you can adjust them to do almost any printing job and do it well.
The list below is not definitive. Flexo printing has penetrated almost any field and industry, but it will give you a brief understanding so you can use it better.
Flexographic Packaging Printing
Even though flexographic printing can be used on many materials, it is easy to see why would it be so popular into a packaging production industry — not only it allows to print on a variety of materials, but the quantity is also large, and the printing can be done many times over. It is the most cost-effective and long-term printing method. Its effectivity correlated with its effectiveness.
That is why it becomes a standard in the packaging printing industry. It helps you produce high-quality prints without having to rely on one time to fix solutions. The customization that flexographic printing allows makes it a top choice for printing a wide variety of products. If you are working in the gift wrapping or fast moving consumer goods industry, chances you will need to refer to the flexography at some point are higher than you think.
Publishing and Flexographic Printing
Even though it might not be the first application when you think about Flexo Printing, but one of the most common applications of the flexographic printing is printing on paper.
Many newspapers, books, paper stationery items, magazines, and marketing items that are often printed on the smooth and flat surface use flexographic painting. It is the perfect choice for printing things and items that require double sides printing.
Industrial Uses of Flexographic Printing
As we have mentioned before, flexo printing work on a wide variety of materials. That is why it became the go-to printing method in the industrial sector. It allows printing on metal surfaces, textile, and many more. The end colors look perfect, thus making the method so effective.
Again, the versatility of the method and its use of inks and material make it the perfect choice for the textile industry. The method allows for producing clothes, bedroom accessions, and others in large quantities.
So, does your business need to use flexographic printing?
The answer to the question isn’t simple. If you work in one of the above fields, chances are you will probably rip all the benefits of the method, since those are some of the most common applications of the method. But it does not mean that if you are not above, you can never use flexographic printing in your operations.
Quite the opposite.
Before you make a final decision, we would recommend to familiarise yourself with other methods of printing or schedule a one-on-one consultation with professionals that know the ins and outs of printing.
If you have already done and feel like the benefits outperform, the negatives — or even better than the method does not have drawbacks and will only bring you value — you should do it. Flexo printing will probably do you only good.