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The Ultimate Guide to Flexographic Printing

Posted by Rob Gladstone

Jun 6, 2017 8:01:00 AM


Flexographic printing has been around since the 1920s, but it’s been continuously growing in popularity since the 1940s when more and more industries began using the process on an increasing number of substrates. Today, flexographic printing is known across the world as one of the most affordable high-quality printing processes available, and it has environmental advantages to boot. So without further ado, here's everything you need to know about how it works and why so many people use it!

A Primer on Flexographic Printing

Flexographic printing is a printing method that allows the printer to print on flexible substrates because the process uses flexible—rather than traditional rigid—raised-imaged printing plates. These plates are attached to cylinders, and then inked by a roll that carries low-viscosity inks onto the plate which then transfers it onto the substrate. Typically, each plate transfers a single color to the substrate, and the substrate goes through multiple stations to print the completed color image.

Applications for Flexographic Printing

One of the best things about flexographic printing is how very versatile it is. It’s most commonly used on non-porous substrates, but you can use this printing technique on almost any surface, including:

  • Bags
  • Wrappers and envelopes
  • Tags
  • Tubes
  • Cups
  • Cartons and boxes
  • Calendars
  • Balloons
  • Cards
  • Cellophane
  • Food and beverage containers
  • Pressure-sensitive and other labels
  • Shrink sleeves

And the list goes on…

As such, flexographic printing is being used today to print on anything from shopping bags to milk cartons to wallpaper to pet food bags, and much more.

Other Benefits and Advantages of Flexographic Printing

Printing with the flexographic process involves using continuous webs of substrate, and this means you can print at very high speeds without worrying about interruptions or stoppages to change the substrate. On top of that, flexography also has the benefit of being compatible with a wide range of inks, especially when compared to lithographic printing, including solvent, oil, water-based and 100% solids UV cure inks. 

Because you can use water-based and UV cure inks with this printing process, it’s also more eco-friendly than other printing methods. Plus, the low-viscosity inks have a faster drying time (UV cure is essentially instantaneous!), and this results in quicker production times, higher throughput, and lower costs.

Flexographic printing is the fastest growing printing process in the world, largely because of its high quality, high efficiency, versatility, low costs, and environmental benefits.  It’s immensely popular because it was specifically designed for printing on flexible substrates and materials.

And in case you needed even more reasons to check out flexographic printing, you'll also save time and money with this process while optimizing operations.

Learn to quickly identify and solve issues that could arise in your flexographic print process. Get your free copy of our Flexographic Troubleshooting Guide.

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Topics: Printing

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