Pros and Cons of Flexographic & Digital Printing

In our last YL blog post, we explored some of the technology we have implemented throughout our facility including our presses. Here at Yerecic Label we specialize in both digital and flexographic printing capabilities. Printing pressure sensitive labels can be achieved through many different methods, however these two are definitely the most popular. With digital capabilities being newer and flexographic quality continually improving, it can be challenging to decide which of these is best for your job. We hope that the information in this blog post helps with that decision!

 

What is Digital printing?

Digital printing refers to the process where digital-based artwork is transferred onto a variety of surfaces via inkjet or laser printer technology. Digital printing is the more modern method and is capable of producing higher-resolution images while providing your job with extensive flexibility!

 

Strengths and Weaknesses of Digital Printing

The first major strength to digital printing is that you can quickly change the information such as different SKUs, flavor variations or serial numbers on each label you print in a run without having to worry about additional setup.

Yerecic Label’s Domino N610i Digital UV Inkjet Press, pictured below, uses inkjet print heads which means it does not need plates to get a new job to press. The ability to not have to make new plates, although Yerecic Label does have platemaking in house, does increase the potential for a faster turnover time. This elimination of setup and plate costs makes digital printing best for small to medium sized orders, however it’s slower production speed is not ideal for longer runs.

What is Flexographic printing?

The Flexographic printing process is more traditional and entails more initial legwork. Flexo printing is a high-quality label printing system that utilizes flexible plates made of rubber that are mounted to a plate cylinder. It can be compared to the original printing press, where an image is stamped onto a surface by transferring ink to the material. As this method has proven successful year after year, label after label, it is often considered the backbone of the label industry.

 

Strengths and Weaknesses of Flexographic Printing

The key advantage to flexographic printing is the production speed, there is no in-between work required. Once you set up the project on press, the job can run at phenomenal press speeds allowing for fast, continuous production and presents the best value for longer runs. However, flexo printing does require more time overall to complete a job. As mentioned earlier, there is a lot more pre-work involved with elements such as creating the printing plate, changing out inks, and assembling the ink rollers and plate cylinders.

In addition, each change or variation in artwork requires new plates to be made and the press to be reset. Flexographic printing is also a lot more hands-on, the operator is literally turning knobs, pulling levers, and making sure the web remains straight and doesn’t shift throughout the entire job.

There isn’t a clear winner in the digital vs flexo debate because each job is different making both printing technologies valuable! For more information or help deciding whether Digital printing or Flexographic printing is right for your custom label, contact us here.

Up Next: The Four Pillars of YL – Technology