Flexographic printing and offset printing are two of the most popular printing processes in this industry.
Offset provides the highest quality. However, due to the revolution that flexo has had, the latter now offers the same quality.
With flexo, the simple printing process is high-quality and low-cost, without the need for additional labor or costs. Flexography is the method of choice for many applications, this is due to the many advantages it offers. One roller feeds each flex plate with ink, and a single flex plate is required for each individual printed color. In processes that are: laminating, stamping or die-cutting, they can be integrated together with the printing in a single pass, which we have as a result: higher production speed vs the traditional printing methods that we know.
Both printing methods: flexographic and offset are oriented to satisfy the printing needs, however there are key differences that distinguish them:
- A dedicated flex plate for every color
- Extremely high color accuracy
- Ability to combine printing with other processes in a single operation
- The starting material is in the form of a roll, which passes through a series of rotating flexible relief plates
- Uses flexible rotary plates to print directly onto the substrate
- Different printing materials are used in flexography: absorbent, non-absorbent, porous and non-porous, paper, film and self-adhesive plastics
- Up to eight inks can be printed
- Different finishes can be made: varnishes (machine, high gloss or ultraviolet), plastic lamination and film stamping
- Indirectly prints through a series of offset plates
- Offset only works with smooth and flat surfaces
- Uses paper, stainless steel, and plastic
- The plates are rolled onto a cylinder and come into direct contact with the rubber cylinder. A battery of rubber and metal rollers are responsible for carrying the ink, it is wet with water to repel the ink from the surface of the plate. The ink goes first to the rubber cylinder and from there to the paper. The image or text is transferred by pressure to a blanket to pass it, finally, to the paper by pressure
Advantages and disadvantages of Offset
Advantages of offset printing. It allows a lot of flexibility with the material of the labels.
It is suitable for large print jobs – the price per 1000 labels goes down as the number of labels increases.
Disadvantages of offset printing. Its cost… is expensive; by the complex printing units.
It takes longer to set up and produces more waste. Quality wise you need experienced operators as the press and printing process are complex.
However, when you switch to a new printing technique, you will always notice the difference. A series of aspects must be taken into account for this migration.
How to make the change?
A good start would be: the combination of both technologies: offset printing and flexographic printing in a single press. Some offset machines can integrate Flexography units in their configuration. This would be a viable solution, in case you don’t want to completely switch to flexo printing.
100% replacement, from offset printing to flexographic printing, this requires a short-term investment as you will need flexographic presses. In the long term, this transition will result in lower operating costs for you.
The high print quality and low cost of flexographic printing, and the flexibility and fast turnaround times of digital printing… is synonymous with flexography.