Flexography VS Digital Printing

06 August 2018

Flexography (or ‘flexo’) is a relief printing technique. The process involves custom print plates manufactured with raised rubber or plastic, created to match specific artworks or designs. The plates are mounted on a cylinder where ink is applied to the raised areas – which is then, like a stamp, pressed directly on the desired surface, transferring the ink. Flexo can be used on a number of surfaces including corrugated boxes and flexible packaging materials.

A key component of flexography is the print plates. Each colour you want on your artwork will require an additional print plate that has to be purchased and added to your costs. Flexography may also struggle with more complex designs and gradients. Flexography is therefore suited for high volume, low colour print jobs. Due to the high setup costs, small-volume jobs may not return a profit for flexography.

Digital printing, on the other hand, is a direct printing process that works much like an office printer. Digital printing requires no print plates and is able to digitally print the full CYMK colour spectrum onto a desired surface, including any gradients or effects. Digital printing works best with full-colour artwork and quick turnaround times.

Thanks to technological advancements, some digital printers are now running almost as fast as flexo – and without the need to create printing plates, you can also go to the printing press faster. With digital printing you are also able to correct mistakes in a shorter time frame, and there is no need to order new printing plates as any mistakes can be fixed digitally.

Moreover, unlike flexography there are no minimum order issues associated with digital printing. However, the cost per unit of digital printing remains higher. This price issue can be offset if you are working with more complex designs, as you can avoid the need to manufacture multiple printing plates. However, for simpler designs, flexography may still be better.

As Karstedt Partners reports in the context of the overall corrugated market, digital printing may not command a large market share, although there is an opportunity to do so in the specific context of high graphics corrugated products.

Both techniques have their own pros and cons, and the decision on which to use will depend on the type and size of your job.

To learn more and catch up with all the news and developments in the Corrugated and Folding Carton industry, come to CCE South East Asia from 5-7 September. This exhibition brings together manufacturers and suppliers, and will include workshops, seminars, and plenty of chances for networking across the industry. CCE South East Asia will be held at the Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Center, and is the region’s only event of this type.

Register now for your free tickets here:

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