What Is Flexography Printing and What Is It Used For?
Applying special plates to pain surfaces is one of the main technologies used for labeling.
Due to this technology, producers can apply any image to plastic, paper, foil, polyethylene, cardboard, and other materials. The method is characterized by high productivity, which ensures its wide usage in large-scale enterprises.
This method was introduced into the industry almost 100 years ago. It is used for designing stickers, packaging materials, and plastic bags. The technology has its characteristics and advantages, which explain the high demand for this solution. In the article, we will answer the question “what is flexographic printing?” and consider all the related issues.
What Products can be Printed using the Method?
Let’s start with answering the question “what is flexography used for?”. Due to its innovative technique and compatibility with diverse materials, it is possible to print any sort of image on wrapping, namely:
- adhesive and shrink-sleeve labels;
- plastic bags;
The used materials, inks, and other supplements have non-toxic nature, which contributes to its wide use for labeling food products and applying images (bar codes, logos, prints) to product wrapping. The Uniflex company deals with a wide range of materials and products and offers creative solutions for any business and purpose, more here.
Types of Materials for Flexo Technology Applying
Due to its properties and the technological process, the solution is applied to the below-listed types of surfaces:
- Uncoated or coated papers.
- Aluminum foil.
- Iner board.
- Various types of plastic films, including low-density polypropylene (LDPE), bio-oriented polypropylene (BOPP), polypropylene (PP), and polyester (PET).
The technology is compatible with most modern materials, which justifies its versatility.
So, now let’s answer the question “what is flexographic printing process?”. The principle of operation of the flexographic printing machine is as follows.
- A flexible form is attached to the plate cylinder, on which the printed details protrude above the space ones.
- Further, liquid ink is rolled onto the printed elements of the form. It does not fall on the substrate since it is located several millimeters lower. One of the peculiarities of this system is that allows avoiding the usage of a dampening solution. This results in simplifying the printing process and making the resulting products more durable.
- After that, the material for sealing enters the printing section. The plate cylinder from the fixed form is pressed against the material, and the image from the form passes to the material. So, we get a single-color image. If you need a color picture, then 4 plates should be made, on which yellow, blue, purple, and black paint will be rolled.
- The system of supplying ink to the plate is simple. A rubber roller is bathed in the ink tank. This roller feeds ink onto a recessed ceramic cylinder (anilox). Then, a special plate takes paint residue. The anilox roller contacts the painting surface and applies paint to it.
What are Flexo Print Plates?
Flexography is a type of surface printing, in which the application of a coloring form to the surface occurs with the help of a special plate. It is made of elastic material – Flexoform.
The technology belongs to letterpress, i.e. the plate is located above the surface on which the image (barcode, logo) is printed. In this case, the gap elements on the coloring form do not contact the base. This method is considered quite simple from a technical point of view; thus, it does not need complex and lengthy preparatory processes. Flexo features:
- Work at high speed.
- The image can be applied even on thick materials.
- The use of aqueous solutions of paints.
- Work with large circulations.
Advantages of Flexographic Technology
Now, when we know the answer to the question of “what is flexography?”, let’s list its key perks:
- High productivity. The materials applied in flexo printing are used to the maximum since the width of the print roller allows users to print the entire roll without idling and gaps.
- The possibility to create a single block of the machine with the installation of additional modules (for hot stamping, UV varnishing, cutting into narrow rolls, gluing, and many others).
- The simplicity of technology allows users to produce small consignments of products and quickly rebuild when switching to a new order.
- The high speed of printing allows for dealing with large circulations.
- High-quality prints (reproduction of the smallest details, accurate color matching).
- The possibility of applying paints on different surfaces (paper, cardboard, self-adhesive materials, textiles, polymer films, etc.).
- Roll printing. An important advantage of the method is that roll winding speeds up material processing at all stages of production, including the use by the end-user. Roll winding allows you to automate the labeling, printing, die-cutting process, and other post-printing processes.
- Environmental friendliness of paints. Alcohol and water-soluble inks are used. The fast-drying ink achieves high image clarity and durability, even without post-print processing.
- Usage of non-toxic materials and inks. This allows using the technology for creating packages for food.
- Improving the recyclability of printing labels and packages due to the use of eco-friendly materials.
- Cost efficiency. This method of applying images to materials and labeling packages has the best ratio of price to product quality. Clients get high-quality cost-effective products.
In addition, the latest improvements allow combining flexo technology with digital and screen printing methods, increasing the number of colors used and using digitally made polymer plates.
So, here you know the answer to the question “what is flexo printing?” with all its peculiarities. The solution has found wide application in many sectors, including the food industry. The above-mentioned benefits allow for using it for marking food and designing wrapping. Ordering packaging printing will help develop creative solutions for any goods and products.