Flexo-printing technology continues to be a economical, productive & reliable means of printing labels and other packaging products, despite its competition with other printing technologies. It is more popular than ever, with global sales increases being seen in 72% of the available flexo printing equipment and converting models, according to the US-based Flexographic Technical Association (FTA).
Developments in Ink Technologies
Superior label quality is now possible, thanks to the development of better quality inks. These modern inks ensure better press stability and cleaner printing because of their higher solubility. Their easier transfer acceptance onto many substrates, printing plates and anilox rolls is another benefit of these inks.
Developments in Flexographic Printing Technology
There have been some significant developments in flexo-printing technology as it pertains to labels. This is because the boundaries of the process are constantly being tested by innovative printing companies, like Focus Label machinery.
Included in these developments is the introduction of servo digital drives in multi-colour presses, which allows for reduced waste and shorter make-ready times. Ultimately, the development in drive systems has also caused the cost of flexo-printing to fall, increasing the competitive advantage over digital printing.
Another major development has been UV curing methods, both Arc & LED which have served to significantly reduce downtime and energy costs.
What Printer Manufacturers Have Done
In order to meet the need to shorten run lengths, printer manufacturers have focused on reducing change-over times, as the current short-run trend is seeing more frequent job changes. Another focus has been on the production of machines that can accommodate a variety of print substrates, as well as being as user-friendly as possible.
New Proflex Range
Focus Labels demonstrated a new range of products at this year’s DRUPA Expo & Labelexpo India Expo, all of which make it easy for printers to produce quality labels and reduce their change-over times. One example is our line of Proflex compact flexo-presses. The modular Proflex SE/Proflex E includes servo and line shaft drive options and feature print widths of 250 and 330mm. It offers a range of drying systems from combination to Infra-red to UV. It can also be fitted with an optional chill roll for jobs where heat-sensitive substrates are involved.
Due to the ability of print cartridge assemblies to be cleaned off-press, operators of Focus’s new Proflex line benefit from uninterrupted production. Variable data and short run requirements can be met with the addition of a single or full colour inkjet system.
The following features have allowed for set-up time to be decreased and wastage of materials to be significantly reduced, which ultimately reduces downtime and increases productivity.
Design Allows For Easy Loading
The Proflex line was designed with open architecture print stations. This allows ink cartridges and print cylinders to be easily loaded, and also allows for the full or partial exchange or unloading of print cartridges. The incorporation of bearer rings into the print cylinder assembly guarantees the accuracy of print impression settings and elimination of banding marks often associated with Flexo systems.
Touch Screen Interfaces
All Proflex models feature a touch-screen HMI operator interface panel for full press function control. This interface also stores information for future print runs or reference. The Proflex SE features additional servo-assisted control for all press operations through Digital drive technology.
The Proflex SE also has the option to have full Colour & Mono digital printing systems to be integrated for maximum versatility in an ever changing market.
In addition to the above, Focus Labels continues to innovate by adding features such as automatic print register control integration, optional rail systems for overhead press equipment, and the use of Digital Drive technology, which reduces errors and provides greater substrate control.
In order for the flexo-printing industry to remain competitive, continued innovation will be necessary in the coming years, as will a focus on sustainable technologies which reduce the carbon footprint of printing companies.
Get Better Value From Flexo-Printing
For a comprehensive guide to flexo-printing and how to get the best long term value from technology and print methodologies, download our new Ultimate Guide to Flexo-Printing. This useful guide is full of free advice and tips on how to optimise your print operation, both now and in the future.