Posted by Rob Gladstone. Today, flexographic printing is known across the world as one of the most affordable high-quality printing processes available, and it has environmental advantages to boot. So without further ado, here's everything you need to know about how it works and why so many people use it! Flexographic printing is a printing method that allows the printer to print on flexible substrates because the process uses flexible—rather than traditional rigid—raised-imaged printing plates. These plates are attached to cylinders, and then inked by a roll that carries low-viscosity inks onto the plate which then transfers it onto the substrate.
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Commercial printing is the link between your customers and your brand. If you need a primer on the differences in flexography vs. More specifically, a Flexo printing process will involve creating rubber or polymer plates with the desired image engraved on the surface. After application, the material is sent through a dryer to prevent smudging. Flexo has been around for a few decades, making it an older choice for commercial printing.
Manufacturers print and cut their materials all through a single system, which mean high efficiency for mass-produced designs. In terms of materials, Flexo is a great choice for printing on non-flat media: corrugated cardboards, shrink sleeve wraps, pouches, double-sided labels, and so on. Clearly, the market supports this method.
Flexo does have a few drawbacks. Each plate used in the flexographic process can print only one color at a time. And depending on your project, it can also be less affordable at scale than our next option: Lithography. We love explaining Litho because it gives us the chance to discuss everything from printing styles to Latin to basic chemistry.
Lithography involves applying ink to a printing plate typically made of metal or stone. Of course, metal plates are more common these days. Whether stone or metal, the Litho plate is then pressed into a rubber blanket, which itself is used to apply the ink into the printing substrate. The biggest advantage that Litho has over Flexo is in print quality. Litho works best for flat media, such as paper, foils, cloth, plastics, or flat cardboard.
This limits its application for uneven print jobs, corrugated cardboards, textured surfaces, and any other specialty print projects.
Lithographic jobs also tend to cost more than Flexo jobs due to the complex nature of the printing process and the unique materials required. However, Litho is great for big printing projects, so the unit cost will decrease as the project quantity increases. Therefore, it can become more affordable at scale. The newest contender in the printing arena, digital printing, is quite different from Flexo or Litho. Think back to the old Inkjet printers we used to have.
Digital printing works in the same way, using a combination of ink cartridges and heat to apply thin layers of ink to substrate surfaces. Simple, right? Digital offers some great benefits:. That last point is key. Each print can be customized based on the data entered into the printing software, meaning that companies that need custom barcodes or unique identifiers on packaging can easily adapt their templates for this purpose.
Primarily, the biggest drawbacks of digital are its relatively high production costs and slow production speed. All, and none. Comparing flexography vs. Previous Article. Next Article. We help brands solve complex problems to cut through retail clutter to accelerate their sales and growth while minimizing any risks. Tell us how we can help you. What type of Project are you enquiring about? What is your budget? Thanks for taking the time to share your project.
We'll take a close look and get back to you as soon as possible. What are the drawbacks of Flexo? What are the drawbacks of Litho? Digital Printing The newest contender in the printing arena, digital printing, is quite different from Flexo or Litho. Digital offers some great benefits: High-quality images Low setup costs Data variability from print to print That last point is key. What are the drawbacks of digital? Which is best for my project? Your Details Don't worry, this is for our eyes only, but we want to be able to reach out to you and chat.
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Flexography vs. Lithography vs. Digital Printing: A Primer on Commercial Printing