Printing techniques

Choosing the optimal printing technique is crucial, profoundly impacting visual appeal, cost efficiency, and brand perception.

Our experts will assist you in choosing the right option for you, taking into account practical factors like a high number of designs, image density, and production speed

Whatever your expectations, we can meet them with the ideal printing techniques for your project. 

Our Flexible Printing Options

Flexographic (Flexo) printing is a popular and versatile method of high-speed printing used for various packaging materials and labels. It is a type of relief printing process that utilises flexible printing plates. Flexography is widely used in the packaging industry to print on materials such as paper, cardboard, plastic films, foil, and labels

How does it work?

  • Design and plate preparation: The artwork is transferred onto a flexographic printing plate made from rubber or photopolymer material. The flexibility allows it to wrap around a cylindrical printing drum.
  • Ink application: Ink is applied to the printing plate by a roller system, where the raised parts of the plate pick up the ink. 
  • Printing process: The substrate (packaging material or label) is fed through the printing press, and the printing plate comes in contact with the material’s surface. 
  • Drying: After printing, the ink needs to dry quickly to avoid smudging or smearing, using hot air, UV curing systems, or LED curing.
  • Finishing: Additional finishing like laminating, cutting, and other converting processes are possible.

Advantages

  • High-speed production: The high speed makes it suitable for large print runs and high-volume packaging needs.
  • Versatility: It can print on a wide range of porous and non-porous materials, making it ideal for various packaging applications.
  • Cost-effective: Flexo printing is cost-effective for long print runs, making it a preferred choice for bulk production.
  • Water-based inks: The possibility to use more environmentally friendly water-based inks.

Limitations

  • Lower Resolution: less suitable for intricate and highly detailed designs.
  • Setup Time: more time-consuming compared to digital printing.

Despite its limitations, flexography remains a cost-effective and versatile option for many packaging and labelling needs. Advancements in technology continue to improve the quality and capabilities of flexo printing, making it an essential part of the printing industry.

Offset (lithography) printing is one of the most common and widely used commercial printing methods. It is a traditional and highly efficient printing process that produces high-quality, consistent prints at large volumes. Offset printing is commonly used for a wide range of materials.

How Does IT Work?

  • Plate preparation: Initially, the artwork is converted into a set of aluminium printing plates with a photosensitive coating. 
  • Ink application: Ink is applied to the printing plates using rollers. The ink adheres to the image areas of the plates, while water adheres to the non-printing parts. 
  • Offset and transfer: The inked image from the plates is transferred to a rubber blanket cylinder. The rubber blanket then comes into contact with the surface of the printing material (usually paper), while avoiding direct contact between the plates and the paper.
  • Printing: As the paper passes between the blanket cylinder and an impression cylinder, the ink is transferred from the blanket onto the paper. 
  • Drying: After the ink is applied to the paper, it needs to dry through the absorption into the paper and by using air dryers.

Advantages

  • High-quality output: Offset printing produces sharp, clear images and text, making it suitable for materials requiring high print quality.
  • Cost-effectiveness: For large print runs, offset printing is more cost-effective than digital printing.
  • Versatility: It can be used on a variety of substrates, including paper, cardstock, and certain types of plastics.
  • Pantone matching: Offset printing can use Pantone colour matching, ensuring consistent colour reproduction for branding and design purposes.

Limitations

  • Longer setup time: The initial setup process for offset printing can be more time-consuming than digital printing, making it less suitable for short print runs.
  • Limited customization: Each print run generally requires a new set of plates, limiting the cost-effectiveness for small quantities or frequent design changes.

Despite the rise of digital printing technologies, offset printing remains a preferred choice for many large-scale printing projects that demand high-quality results and cost-efficiency.

Digital printing is a modern printing method that directly reproduces digital files onto various substrates without the need for traditional printing plates or screens. This flexibility makes it suitable for both short runs and personalised printing.

How Does IT Work?

  • Printing process: The digital file with the artwork is sent directly to the digital printing equipment, such as a digital press or inkjet printer. No intermediate steps like plate-making or screen preparation are required.
  • Ink application: Inkjet, or electro ink technology is used to apply ink onto the substrate. Inkjet printing uses small droplets of ink sprayed onto the surface, while laser printing (electro ink) uses electrostatic charges to transfer toner onto the substrate.
  • Drying or curing: Depending on the type of ink or toner used, the printed material may require drying or curing to set the ink and make it durable.

Advantages

  • Quick turnaround: No need for time-consuming plate or screen preparation, allowing for faster production and shorter turnaround times.
  • On-demand printing: It is cost-effective for small to medium print runs, making it suitable for on-demand printing or short print jobs.
  • Variable data printing: Easy integration of personalised data enables targeted marketing and customization.
  • High-quality output: With advancements in technology, digital printing can produce high-quality prints with sharp text and images.

Limitations

  • Cost for large runs: Digital printing can be more expensive per unit for very large print runs compared to traditional offset printing.
  • Limited substrate compatibility: Not all materials can be printed on with the same quality and efficiency.
Digital printing has revolutionised the printing industry by offering cost-effective and flexible solutions for a wide range of printing needs.

Hybrid printing is a modern printing approach that involves integrating two or more printing processes into a single hybrid printing system, allowing users to leverage the strengths of each technology for specific aspects of the printing job.

The most common form of hybrid printing involves combining digital printing with traditional printing methods like offset, flexography, or flat screen printing. The integration of these technologies provides advantages that individual methods may not offer on their own.

How Does IT Work?

  • Image processing: Digital files are converted into a printable format that can be used by the different printing technologies in the hybrid system.
  • Data management: Hybrid printing systems may use software and data management tools to handle variable data printing, allowing for the personalization of printed materials.
  • Print stations: The hybrid printing system consists of multiple print stations, each utilising a different printing technology. 
  • Printing process: As the substrate passes through the hybrid printing system, each print station applies the appropriate technology to produce specific elements of the final printed product. Digital print stations handle variable data, images, and graphics, while traditional print units handle spot colours, varnishes, or other specialised effects.
  • Inline finishing: Some hybrid printing systems incorporate inline finishing capabilities, such as laminating, die-cutting, or coating, to complete the printed product in a single pass.

Advantages

  • Versatility: Hybrid printing systems can handle a wide range of substrates and printing applications, making them suitable for various industries and projects.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Hybrid printing optimises printing processes, reducing setup time and minimising waste, which can result in cost savings for certain print jobs.
  • Customization: The integration of digital printing enables variable data and personalization, while traditional printing methods offer vibrant spot colours and special effects.

Limitations

  • Complexity: Hybrid printing systems can be more complex to set up and maintain compared to single-technology printing systems.
  • Initial investment: The cost of acquiring a hybrid printing system may be higher compared to investing in a single printing technology.

Hybrid printing has gained popularity as it combines the advantages of both digital and traditional printing methods, allowing businesses to achieve high-quality, personalised prints with efficient production capabilities. It is well-suited for applications such as packaging, labels, marketing materials, and other printed products that require a combination of variable data and vibrant colours or special effects.

Flat (flatbet) screen printing is a widely used printing method that involves transferring ink through a screen onto a flat or relatively flat surface, including fabrics, paper, plastics, glass, metal sheets, and various promotional materials.

How Does IT Work?

  • Screen preparation: The flat screens are made of a fine mesh material, such as polyester or stainless steel, coated with a photosensitive emulsion that reacts to light. A stencil is then applied to the screen by blocking out the areas where ink should not pass through.
  • Ink application: The ink is poured onto the screen, and a squeegee is used to spread the ink evenly over the stencil on the screen. The stencil’s open areas (where ink can pass through) correspond to the design to be printed.
  • Printing process: The inked screen is lowered onto the substrate and a rubber blade or squeegee is then pressed against the screen, forcing the ink through the mesh openings and onto the surface below. The ink adheres to the substrate, forming the desired design.
  • Colour registration: Each colour requires a separate screen and stencil. Precise colour registration is crucial to ensure that each colour aligns correctly.
  • Drying: After printing, the ink needs to be dried to set the colours and make the print permanent.
  • Finishing: It’s time for further finishing processes, such as cutting, folding, or laminating.

Advantages

  • Versatility: A wide range of flat or relatively flat surfaces can be used.
  • Vibrant colours: The vibrant and opaque colours, especially on lighter-coloured substrates, are remarkable!
  • Cost-effective for medium to large runs: Ideal for most commercial printing applications.

Limitations

  • Time-consuming setup: Preparing screens and stencils can be time-consuming, making it less efficient for small runs or frequent design changes.
  • Limited to flat surfaces: Not suitable for printing on three-dimensional objects or curved surfaces.

Flat screen printing remains a popular choice for various applications due to its ability to produce high-quality, durable prints on a wide range of materials.

Rotary screen printing is a variation of screen printing where the screens are cylindrical and rotate continuously during the printing process. This specialised and high-speed printing technique allows for fast and continuous printing on long rolls of fabric or other materials.

How Does IT Work?

  • Screen preparation: The screens, made of a fine mesh material like nickel or stainless steel, are cylindrical in shape and are engraved or etched with the desired design or pattern.
  • Ink application: The ink is applied to the inside surface of the rotating cylindrical screens. A blade or squeegee system forces the ink into the mesh openings, filling the engraved areas with ink.
  • Printing process: As the substrate moves through the printing machine, it comes into contact with the rotating screens. The fabric is guided around the screens using a series of rollers. When the fabric passes beneath the screens, the ink is transferred through the mesh openings onto the fabric.
  • Colour registration: To achieve multicolor prints, multiple screens are used, each containing a different colour of ink. The screens must be precisely aligned to avoid colour bleeding.
  • Drying: After printing, the ink needs to dry quickly to set the colours. Drying is often achieved using infrared drying systems or UV curing.

Advantages

  • High production speed: Its high production rates are ideal for large-scale production runs.
  • Vibrant and detailed prints: The vibrant colours and intricate patterns with excellent colour fastness are definitely a plus.
  • Versatility: Rotary screen printing can be used on a wide range of fabrics, including cotton, polyester, silk, and blends.
  • Economical: For long print runs, rotary screen printing is efficient and cost-effective.
  • Continuous printing: The continuous nature of the process allows for seamless printing on long rolls of fabric.

Limitations

  • Costly setup: Setting up the screens can be time-consuming and costly, making it less suitable for short runs or frequent design changes.
  • Limited to flat surfaces: Rotary screen printing is generally not suitable for printing on three-dimensional objects or surfaces with irregular shapes.

Overall, rotary screen printing is a powerful and widely used technique, especially when large-scale production and vibrant colours are essential. It offers the ability to create high-quality, durable prints on a variety of fabrics.

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