When used for medium to long print runs, the advantages of flexography outweigh the disadvantages by far, thus making it the best printing technology for long-term return on investment. Things are less clear when considering Flexo for short run production.
Flexography is known for providing quality results with its efficiency in speed. The popularity for this type of printing continues to grow, despite widespread digitisation by many printing sectors. Those in the label printing business understand the importance of knowing how the printing machine operates, both good and bad.
Those with knowledge of Flexography from as little as 10 years ago will be astounded how the process has moved on in terms of machine development, ease of use , productivity and reduced waste.
If you are interested in acquiring a new printing press, but you are unsure of how flexo stands in relation to other printing technologies, the first thing to do is get as much of the LATEST information as possible. Never invest blindly or rely on your previous perception of an existing process. Let us look at both sides of the coin to have a good idea why it is a great option for label / paper/ Film printing on a range of substrates.
Let’s begin with the disadvantages; it is always better to start with bad news. The advantages will follow.
4 Disadvantages of Flexography
Like all the other printing methods, Flexography printing has its disadvantages. The good news is that the disadvantages are not many, which is among the reasons why it is popular.
- Flexographic printing equipment are quite complex in nature with a number of integral systems built into the process. The number of systems & mechanical components also makes it essential to plan a regular schedule of routine maintenance – in order to avoid expensive downtime and repairs.
- When it comes to price consideration, the printing plates are the most important and cost of reprographics to get to the final print stage. If a job is made up of several colours, you will need to provide a plate for each colour. Flexographic printing is preferable for medium to large volumes of printing due to the setup and plate making cost.
- A flexographic press takes time to set up, the more colours the longer the set-up time will be. The viability of Flexo will then become a balance of volume of the order against Set up time and cost of printing plates.
- With the new techniques coming up offering bolder colours and more highly defined images and complicated designs, Flexographic printing may seem a step back in providing a relative simple printing process, but with knowledge Flexo Printing offers the same opportunities , flexibility , variety and speed.
6 Advantages of Flexography
Now that we are out with the bad, let us get in with the good. Do the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.
- Flexography is known for a quick production process. The moderate time it takes to set-up the machine is well-compensated by the fast production speeds. Furthermore the latest Servo based machines are reducing set up times to the extent it allows even shorter job runs to be economic.
- Flexography accommodates a variety of Ink types from Water based through to Solvent & U.V Curable Inks, which makes it the most versatile process for almost any application. There are varieties of inks depending on the material to print on, be it porous or non-porous, so there is no limit to the substrate you can use, from paper, board through to unsupported films.
- Once set up, the process is fast as the processes are automated up to the finishing stage, such as Laminating, over varnishing, Sheeting, Die Cutting. Most other types of printing do this separately, which prevents continuous production. This makes flexographic printing a strong choice for volume production and fast turnaround requirements.
- There is low operational cost involved. Ink costs & material costs are relatively low, with no special coatings required. Despite the cost of the plates, the long-term price per unit printed is consistently low compared to other mainstream printing methods and only moderately higher on low volumes compared to Digital offerings. Conventional ink costs are relatively low compared to Digital Inks.
- A good Flexographic machine is Robust and parts last a long time before the need to replace them arises. Consumables are relatively low cost and do not add significantly to the production cost price per label. Flexographic machines can shorten the process time, with a finished product produced in a single pass. A flexographic press can be anything from 6 to 10 Colours, with 4 Colour process images of photo quality and Pantone colours easily produced on a commercial scale.
- Flexographic printing equipment can be environmentally friendly. For instance, the use of water-based inks reduces the environmental impact and reduces the amount of toxins released into the atmosphere. Recycling ink also minimises the amount of released chemicals. Drying systems can be controlled avoiding waste of energy, and latest low energy LED UV systems are now coming online.
Investing In A Modern Flexographic Press
A Flexographic printing press is a great long term business investment for both medium and high volume production. Printing in any virtually material using a variety of ink and colour combinations. It provides high quality labels & printed films that sell products, equipment lasts a long time in harsh conditions. Flexography will maintain very good quality in solid colour print, process imaging, fine text printing with little operator intervention.
To discover more of the advantages of flexographic printing please download our free Ultimate Guide To Flexo Printing by clicking here.