3 Flexography Basics

There are many different types of printing processes that can be performed in industrial, historical or hobby settings. One kind of printing is flexography, which is used for printing labels on a variety of materials for product packaging. While the average hobbyist can invest in this type of press, it is usually better suited to high-speed industrial applications.

What Is It?

Flexography, or flexo, is a type of printing process which uses a flexible relief plate and is considered the modern equivalent of the letterpress. The high-speed rotary function of flexo is mainly used for printing product labels on a variety of substrates including plastic, metallic films and paper. It is also uniquely suited for printing large areas of solid color and can be combined with other printing methods as part of a chain printing process. Anilox rollers, doctor blades and end seals for flexo printing direct the amount of ink transferred to the relief plate and the flow of excess ink back into this type of printing process.

How Does It Work?

The flexography process starts with ink being transferred from a tray to an anilox roller by a foundation roller. Excess ink is removed by one or two doctor blades as the anilox roller rotates so the amount transferred to the flexo plate meets specifications. The flexo plate is secured on a rotating cylinder and can be removed or repositioned as needed. It picks up ink from the anilox roller and deposits it on the substrate as an impression roller moves the material through the press. The amount of pressure applied by this roller depends on the type of ink and material used for the printing.

Who Uses It?

Flexography is typically used for packaging labels, either printed directly on the packaging material or on a separate substrate which is later attached to the package. Newspapers and print magazines are starting to move towards flexo printing because of the quick drying time and the ability to print on one layer of a laminated product.

Flexography is an industrial printing process usually used in printing labels on product packaging, plastic shopping bags and much more. This process uses flexible relief plates and high-speed rotary motion to move the ink from the tray, through a system of rollers, and onto the substrate. It can be used on a variety of materials such as plastic or metallic film, which can later be added to other materials for a laminated product.

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