New generations of print hardware and print management software are drastically altering the face of the label printing industry. Some businesses have responded by migrating over to digital printing wholescale, changing their business model to suit the new technology. Others are reluctant to give up the advantages of flexographic printing, especially considering the costs of digital printing.
Digital, Flexo & Hybrid Printing
While digital printing facilitates economic production for smaller print volumes, and variable information options for packaging and label printing; flexo printing is still more cost effective for large quantities or long processing cycles. Digital assets are also more expensive than flexo-presses, although arguably they are cheaper to run as they require less manpower and can turnaround more print runs per shift.
Enter Hybrid printing… Hybrid printing aims to merge the capabilities of analogue and digital printing technology. It does this by integrating the reliability and efficiency of flexographic printing with the creative possibilities of digital printing. From this synthesis, businesses get the high print quality and low cost of flexo printing with the flexibility and fast turnaround time of digital.
The Benefits of Hybrid Printing
To understand how hybrid printing is strengthening the label printing industry, let’s look at how the technology is different from the traditional approach to label printing.
Advanced Features - Hybrid printing machines combine a suite of advanced features that enable businesses to customise their print runs. These include:
- Advanced User Interface with touch screen operation
- Remote operation with print settings that can be programmed in advance and activated at the touch of a button
- Mono and four colour options
- The ability to choose web widths
- Inbuilt UV drying system
- Printing and over varnish facilities
- Multi Head flexo facilities printing to allow pre-coating, analogue CMYK & over varnishing .
- In line rotary & semi-rotary systems for converting and finishing
Digital Ink jet : Is the most robust of the new digital technologies finding itself used in virtually all industrial print applications from ceramics & tiling , flooring, direct product decoration , textiles, wood , security printing , packaging & labels. Systems can be multi pass like an XY plotter or single pass units and being compact can be integrated into product, web & roll fed machines. Ink jet is often the preferred choice for integrators such as Focus Label Machinery . Ink jet systems can print on a wider range of substrates than most other digital systems . In recent years Digital Ink jet has taken over other methods in terms of print resolution at an acceptable 1800 dpi with higher speeds now possible from to 50 to 120 mts /min for a single pass system. Compact Ink jet engines can also be easily integrated into existing machines for a combination of analogue, digital & finishing solutions.
Typical Hybrid Flexo Solution for a Security application
Flexo + Digital ink Jet -W + CMYK, Cold Foil, Converting