A large percentage of the packaging is printed by this printing system.
What is flexography?
It's a printing system It is not well known, so much so that it does not even exist in the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language if you look for the meaning in it. But, arguably, most people on the planet have had a flexo-printed package in their hands.
For instance, the snack packaging that you recently ate was flexo printed, or box in which you saved or filed that has a printed logo, it was probably printed by the flexographic system.
This printing method differs from the others (and that is where the word flexo comes from) because it uses a flexible high relief polymer sheet that contains the image, which rotary prints directly on the various substrates.
Probably, you have seen these plates, if you are in an office and you have an inkwell stamp there you will find it. In a way, you may have already made a flexo printing manually.
Surely you are a person who in one way or another is linked to the world of flexography, whether you own a printing company, or work as a printer or in the purchasing area, but you have interest to know more on this subject that for many is unknown.
This space is designed for anyone who wants to expand their knowledge in the area.
You will find information from the history, advantages and disadvantages, uses, functions, machinery, supplies, applications and much more that will be explained in a way simple and practical so you can understand it easily.
Our technical knowledge and experience in the sector is available to all who want to resolve concerns about different aspects of flexography.
Below you will find the most important topics grouped by categories so that you can consult them easily
A little history of flexography
To go to the beginnings of this printing systemWe must refer to before 1952, since flexography was known as "Aniline Press", which used this chemical for pigment inks. This process with Aniline later became the rotary system of Letterpress.
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has banned the use of this chemical. Subsequently, the MossType Corporation proposed to change the name after reviewing hundreds of proposals. Finally, there were 3 finalist options:
On October 21, 1952, the 14th Forum of the Packaging Institute, gave as winner the name Flexographic Process, which began to be used in the world until today.
If you want to go deeper into flexo history, check out the following article which has a very comprehensive timeline.
How does it work?
The short way to say it is that the flexographic printing process is carried out on a rotational basis by means of a flexographic plate that is inked and at the same time transfers the ink to a specific substrate.
It seems easy, but this process has many variables, among the most important are the pre-press, the inks, the substrates, the photopolymer plates, the assembly and the machines. There are other variables, but by understanding these main ones you will have clarity of how it works.
As the name implies, it is what happens before the printing process. It consists of preparing the image you want to print. Therefore, the pre-press team must be very clear about the technical requirements of the printing process.
In this process, graphic design is of great importance, which is decisive, since aspects such as the line of the weft must be taken into account, how the composition of flexographic works is done, since it is very different with respect to the other methods. of graphic arts.
That is why for this you must have excellent allies who know how to perform excellent design management and correct analysis for the pre-press.
They are characterized by having a low viscosity to be able to flow well and obtain a quick drying. There are 3 types of ink that are used for flexo, which are solvent based, water based and UV. The inking system goes directly to the Anilox, which is the next variable we will analyze.
This is perhaps one of the major determining factors of quality in printing processes, the better they are, the higher the expectation of quality you can have. They are rollers with very small cavities whose objective is to receive the ink and transfer it to the flexographic plate.
There are a number of materials that are conditioned for flexo printing, and they can be grouped into 3 large categories such as plastic films, aluminum or metallized, and paper or cardboard.
It is known in many ways, such as cliche, cirel, rubber, or its more appropriate name flexographic plate / plate for printing. These are formed by a polymer with relief which contains the image that will be copied to the substrate. The sheet has 4 main components, which are the polymer layer, the polyester base, the Slip Film and the protection sheet.
For example, did you know how to calculate the elongation of an iron? In the following article you will find how to do it.
There are a variety of types of flexographic machines but they can be grouped into 4 groups, such as central drum, stack or turret, in-line and sheet-fed.
There are diversity of types of flexographic machines, but they can be grouped into 4 groups, such as central drum, stack or turret, in-line and sheet-fed.
The flexographic printing press offers several advantages over other similar printing processes.
The main advantage is the speed and flexibility it allows, as well as its ability to meet various printing needs.
When used correctly, the flexographic press offers a fully automated process for transferring printed images, providing a cost-effective solution for commercial printing.
It also has a fast response time, making it well suited for high-volume production of high-resolution images.
Advantages of flexography
Flexography has gained popularity mainly due to its high speeds and versatility. This technique allows a quick turnaround of orders at competitive prices.
It also enables high volume production, with low material waste. Flexography can print on a variety of substrates, including metals, plastics, and fabrics. The technology is particularly useful for high-volume label making and engraving.
It is a process chosen for its low costs, high efficiency, and cost benefit in changes. Image plates are designed to print millions of meters of material. You can place short orders profitably and print up to 10 colors with speeds up to 500 mpm.
Printing systems compared
There are many printing systems and in many cases it is very difficult to distinguish one from the other. That is why below you will find the comparisons with some of them, such as rotogravure, screen printing, offset and digital printing.
Flexography and Rotogravure
Rotogravure is a printing technique very similar to flexography. The main difference is mainly that gravure or rotogravure does not use flexographic plates for the transmission of the design, but they are directly engraved on a metal roll.
Flexography and Offset
The debate between flexo with offset printing is one of the most popular printing discussions in the design industry.
Flexography is a type of printing that involves the use of flexible materials to transfer a design image directly to paper, on plastic, or other materials without the use of offset machines.
Flexography has been around for decades, but it has been on the rise in recent years as printing technologies and offset digital printing have been further advanced.
This has resulted in many print shops switching from offset printing to digital or flexo printing to save money. In many ways, the differences between flexo and offset printing can be summed up to three factors: quality, consistency and cost.