The Case of Flexo vs. Digital Printing

The Case of Flexo vs. Digital Printing

Printing has grown from a simple yet time-consuming task, into an important and popular industry. This is mainly due to the development of various types of printing technologies. However, the variety of technologies has also led to some debate regarding label printing. Some printing companies are in favor of digital printing, while others feel that flexographic (flexo) printing is ideal.

As a customer, you will want to know about the particular printing technology used to create your labels. To shed some light on this issue, we decided to put these two technologies against each other. Let’s see which technology comes out on top when it’s Flexo vs. Digital Printing.

Flexography Printing

This type of printing technology utilizes a flexible relief plate to carry a raised image. The plate is usually made out of types of soft plastic, rubber, or polymers that are UV sensitive.  As the plates are flexible, they can be wrapped around cylinders, which are coated with different types of ink colors. When the image comes in contact with the ink, it allows for image designs to be printed on the product.

The main advantages of flexo printing include:

  • It allows for the creation of beautiful color images with sharp and precise details.
  • The images produced are of immense printing quality.
  • Images can be produced in rich, multiple colors.
  • It is a fast printing process and can be used for bulk printing purposes.
  • Flexo is cost-effective printing technology.

Flexographic printers also have certain disadvantages:

  • Each color requires one plate. The costs of single plates is very high.
  • The images need to be distorted before cylinder wrapping. The image distortion process is also expensive.
  • Flexo printing requires the use of traps and bleeds for color overlapping. However, the overlap is not precise, and there can be minor defects in the images.

Digital Printing

Digital printers use toner to print images onto paper, or other substrates. The toner only creates a thin layer on the substrate surface. The image is then adhered to the substrate using heat.

The benefits of digital printing include:

  • Image printing can be completed within short periods.
  • Images are printed as one single photo. Hence, excess expenses on plates and color overlapping are eliminated.
  • The cost of printing is low compared to flexography.
  • Digital printing is flexible, as it allows for modification of images, as well as printing multiple copies of one image.

The disadvantages of digital printing are:

  • Bulk image printing is quite costly.
  • Digitally printed labels require additional lamination for use in outdoor environments.
  • The printer cannot duplicate the exact color, hence, color options in terms of printing are limited.
  • Additional processes like lamination cannot be added to the printing line, and need to be performed separately. This can result in more time and higher expenses.
  • Materials that are heat sensitive cannot be used in digital printing processes.

Every company will have different label printing requirements and challenges. Digital printing is faster and more cost-effective than flexography. Flexography provides images with rich colors and amazing detail but is an expensive and time-consuming task. Hence, customers can look at digital printing for its speed and versatility. However, they should contact reputed label manufacturers to find the best technology for their label making requirement.

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