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Flexographic Printing vs. Digital Printing


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Ever wondered what the difference was between flexographic printing and digital? Learn the difference and what the benefits and drawbacks of each printing solution are.

Published in: Business

Flexographic Printing vs. Digital Printing

  1. 1. Understanding the variables that affect the selection of the right label printing technology.
  2. 2. A product’s packaging attracts the consumer’s attention to the brand, enhances its image, and influences the consumer’s perception.
  3. 3. Professionally printed labels are an investment into the success of your business.
  4. 4. WHAT FACTORS DETERMINE THE RIGHT PRINTING PROCESS? So I know I need high quality labels to sell my products but…
  5. 5. Flexographic Printing • A method of printing that uses flexible printing plates made of rubber or plastic. • Each plate is rotated on a cylinder and coated with fast drying ink. • The material is passed between the print plate and impression roller. • Commonly used for product labels and direct thermal labels, used in Zebra or Dymo LabelWriter label printers.
  6. 6. Digital Printing • Digital printing presses deposit toner onto the material (substrate). • Toner does not permeate the substrate, but instead forms a thin layer on the surface using a heat process.
  7. 7. Benefits of Flexographic Printing • Enhanced durability: best solution for labels that need to have a longer shelf life or those that will be used outdoors; can be used for virtually any material • Speed of production: uses fast-drying inks that allow presses to add one color after the next quickly; laminating, die-cutting, cold foiling and other processes can be integrated to the press line, making production continuous • Color precision: use the Pantone Color System to determine an exact color for your graphics • Low cost for large run print jobs
  8. 8. Benefits of Digital Printing • Fast turn around: doesn’t require plates to be created or images distorted, setup time for job is minimal • Higher image quality: digital images are printed as one image, rather than on layers, which means higher resolution images • Lower cost for short runs: by eliminating expenses for setup you lower the cost of labels for short runs • Flexibility: labels can be changed or updated easily at no additional expense
  9. 9. Drawbacks of Flexographic • Cost of Plates: plates must be purchase for each color in the image, a significant expense for short runs (for large runs the cost of the plates is offset by the speed and lower production costs) • Cost of Image: wrapping an image around a cylinder causes it to stretch and become distorted; it’s necessary to distort the image before the plates are created so that it prints properly • Registration: movement occurs as labels move from one plate to the next, making it impossible to layer colors precisely; commonly used printing techniques called traps and bleeds are used to overcome this setback, but it still lacks the high definition results you achieve with digital
  10. 10. Drawbacks of Digital • High cost of large run print jobs: digitally printed labels are more expensive individually, making them much less affordable for large print jobs • Less durable: while a laminate can be added to increase durability, these labels aren’t designed to last as long as flexographic and shouldn’t be used outdoors • Color selection less exact: can get close to a color, but not the right solution if precision color selection is required since color range is limited • Additional process mean additional steps and additional money: if you want to add lamination, cold foil or another process, these will have to be done separate from the original digital printing process • Limited materials: cannot print on materials that are heat sensitive, since digital presses use a heat sensitive process (such as direct thermal labels)
  11. 11. Things you should look for in a label manufacturer… • Experience • Reputation • Turnaround time • Ease of ordering • Shipping requirements • Other special needs that affect which labeling solution is best for YOUR business…
  12. 12. No two labeling needs are alike… You can’t uncover the right labeling solution by simply checking “yes” or “no” on a list.
  13. 13. The only way to find the right solution is to speak with a sales rep for a labeling manufacturer. They have the knowledge and experience to ask the right questions and guide you to a solution that is tailored to meet your specific needs.
  14. 14. Ready to speak with someone? Our custom label specialists are here and happy to help you explore your options and establish the best labeling solution for your business. Contact us today! (800) 750-7764