The printing industry is on the rise nowadays. The necessity to print some materials arises in any sphere. The food industry is one such example. Brands’ logos, marketing labels, and other information are indispensable elements of modern packaging.
Still, depending on the end task, different methods are required to cope with the set goal. Thus, multiple printing techniques (such as flexo, digital, gravure, and offset) are used in the industry to achieve clients’ demands. Below, we’re going to clarify the difference between offset and flexo printing and outline the main pros and cons of both methods.
Flexo printing comes as a highly effective technology for applying images to flexible materials. It features high durability and resistance to abrasion.
To apply flexo technology, a specialized machine is used. Firstly, an image carrier is needed. In most cases, it is an elastomer or polymer cylinder, sleeve, or plate. To create the final print, the image carrier is engraved. The next step is supplying ink from an inkwell to the carrier. An anilox roller is used for this. When the ink reaches the carrier, it is pressed to the substrate to leave the needed image.
When comparing flexo vs offset technologies, this type of printing is beneficial due to the next characteristics:
- This technique is well applicable to different sorts of surfaces, including flexible packages.
- The method is compatible with different types of materials, including foils, plastics, etc. Thus, it is possible to apply images to almost any surface and enjoy high-quality results.
- Cost-effectiveness. The technique costs less if you deal with large areas of solid colors or simple designs.
Before we highlight the difference between flexographic vs offset printing, let’s mention what common features they have. So, both types of printing require handling an image carrier (a plate or whatever) for applying the image to surfaces. Wet inks are used during both processes. Both technologies work with diverse materials and can apply inks onto different substrates.
Yet, the number of differences is higher. The main difference is that offset technology is applied to only flat surfaces, while flexography can handle flexible ones. Offset deals with paper, cardboard, vinyl, and metal. This type of printing is popular for newspapers, magazines, books, etc. Flexo deals with all sorts of plastics, foils, metal, and cellophane. Thus, its main field of application is wrapper production. Moreover, flexography is applied to both non-absorbent and absorbent materials.
Besides, both methods differ in:
- The price. The cost of flexo machines and inks is a bit lower, meaning that this type of printing is more affordable. Machines are more durable, which means that it is possible to use them multiple times, which reduces production expenses. Besides, flexo presses use inks with low viscosity, which speeds up the drying process, making the production process more effective and increasing job profit.
- Speed and efficiency. Flexography is characterized by high-speed production due to well-organized mechanisms, which allows for printing large quantities over a small period.
Finally, to outline flexo and offset printing differences, let us mention in what industries both technologies are used. As for the offset technique, it is applied to printing all sorts of polite letters. These are magazines, brochures, papers, books, newspapers, business cards, etc.
Flexo technology is widely used in the packaging industry to produce wrappers for all kinds of products (both edible and non-edible). Thus, labels, business logos, product information, and other marketing data are applied to packages using this method.
To sum up, we should pick which one is better, but it is impossible to say that one technology is more beneficial than another. The thing is that each of them deserves existence and is designed for specific purposes. Yet, flexography embraces all the benefits of offset technology and has some more peculiarities, which makes it more widely used in modern industry. Its main advantages include the ability to apply images to all sorts of substrates, including flexible materials, a wide range of use inks, high speed of printing, and cost affordability.
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