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  • What is flexographic printing?
    Flexographic printing uses flexible photopolymer printing plates wrapped around rotating cylinders on a web press. The inked plates have a slightly raised image and rotate at high speeds to transfer the image to the substrate. Flexography inks can print on many types of absorbent and nonabsorbent materials. Flexography is well-suited to print continuous patterns.
  • How many types of flexographic printing machines?

    In terms of structure, there are three types of flexo printing machines:

    CI flexo printing machine, in-line flexo printing machine, and stack flexo printing machine.

  • What is CI flexo printing machine or central impression printing machine?
    CI or central impression flexo press is a printing machine where all printing decks are arranged around a large diameter impression cylinder.
  • What is stack flexo printing machine?
    Stack flexo press is a printing machine, where printing decks stack up vertically.
  • What is in-line flexo printing machine?
    In-line flexo press is a printing machine where all printing decks are arranged horizontally.
  • What inks can flexo printing machine print?

    • solvent-based inks

    • water-based inks

    • electron beam (EB) curing inks

    • ultraviolet (UV) curing inks

  • What substrates can CI flexo printing machine print?
    Plastic, foil, acetate film, brown paper, and other materials used in packaging. Typical products printed using flexography include brown corrugated boxes, flexible packaging including retail and shopping bags, food and hygiene bags and sacks, milk and beverage cartons, flexible plastics, self-adhesive labels, disposable cups and containers, envelopes and wallpaper.
  • What is the industry application of flexo printing machine?

    • Flexible package

    • Hygiene products (baby diaper, sanitary towel)

    • Corrugate carton preprinting

    • Paper package (paper cup, paper bag, fold carton, aseptic liquid package)

    • Cigarette package (water-paper for cigarette filter)

    • Petrochemicals package (FFS (Form, Fill, Seal))

  • What are advantages of flexographic printing?

    The flexographic printing process:

    • Runs at extremely high press speeds.

    • Prints on a wide variety of substrate materials.

    • Uses cost equipment that requires little maintenance.

    • Uses relatively low-cost consumables.

    • Is ideally suited for long runs.

    • Handles all printing, varnishing, laminating, and die cutting in a single pass.

  • What is the difference between flexographic printing and rotogravure printing?

    Flexographic printing, or flexo, is a relief printing technique similar to letterpress that employs rubber or soft plastic plates, a simple inking system and fast drying inks. Flexo printing allows the inked surface to apply to many kinds of substrates, such as plastic film, light or heavy paper, natural kraft, stretchable material, foil, etc. It's the most flexible, or diverse type of printing process.

    In gravure printing, the image is applied to a printing substrate by use of a metal plate mounted on a cylinder.  It uses a depressed or sunken surface for desired image.  The image to be reproduced is etched into the metal plate, sometimes using a laser.  The metal plate is bathed in ink then wiped clean before application.

  • CI FLEXO VS. ROTOGRAVURE PRINTING

    Environment

    Flexo

    Eco-friendly

    • Water-based ink is mostly used. It is eco-friendly and green printing. Especially suitable for printing food package, medical package, or sanitary package.

    • Closed ink chamber, less ink volatilization, good for the environment and operator health.

     

    Rotogravure

    Less eco-friendly

    • Solvent-based ink is mostly used. The solvent residual is harmful and not suitable for printing on food, medical package, or sanitary package.

    • Open ink chamber, more ink volatilization. This will influence the ink viscosity, pollute the environment, and harmful to operator health.

     

    Web Adaptability

    Flexo

    • Suitable to various type of material, such as paper, film, aluminum foil, adhesive sticker, tinsel, etc.  Especially for printing flexible, shrinkable, super-thin film.

    • Flexo press is light pressure printing, and suitable for printing corrugated paper which requires light pressure during printing.

    Rotogravure

    • Instable tension control, difficult for printing flexible, shrinkable, super-thin film. 

    • Gravure is heavy pressure printing, therefore not suitable for printing on corrugated paper.

     

     

    Registration precision

    Flexo

    High precision registration is achieved due to:

    • Short distance between each printing unit.

    • No web deformation

    • Stable tension

    • Registration is not influenced when machine speed up or slow down

    • Easy for registration.

    Rotogravure

    Registration precision is difficult to control due to:

    • Long distance between each printing unit, likely to increase errors.

    • Web is likely to deform.

    • Instable tension.

    • Registration is influenced when machine speed up or slow down.

    • Not easy for registration.

     

    Job changeover

    Flexo

    Plate cylinder sleeve, anilox sleeve, closed ink chamber make it easier and faster during job changeover.

     

    Rotogravure

    Plate needs to be hoisted and changed manually, which takes longer time.

     

    Print speed

    Flexo

    High printing speed, higher than gravure press. Printing quality is stable at high speed.

     

    Rotogravure

    Long web route and instable tension result in the instable printing quality at high speed.

     

    Wastage

    Flexo

    Low wastage rate(1%-2%)

    Rotogravure

    High wastage rate (9%) due to low registration precision and long web route.

     

    Ink consumption

    Flexo

    30% less than gravure printing in certain area, also reducing the energy consumption for ink drying.

    Rotogravure

    High printing pressure and thicker ink result in more ink consumption. This requires more energy for ink drying.

     

    Plate making

    Flexo

    Short time for plate-making and less cost for plate-making. Suitable for small or large batch printing.

    Rotogravure

    Long time for plate-making and more cost for plate-making.  Pate-making is complicated. Not suitable for small batch printing.

     

    Floor space

    Flexo

    Printing units are arranged around central drum. Require less floor space than gravure press and easy for arranging inline equipment (such as creasing, punching, die cutting).

     

    Rotogravure

    Print units are arranged in a line, which require more floor space. It need more space for inline equipment.

     

    Maintenance

    Flexo

    Compared to gravure press with same number of printing units, C.I flexo press has less guide rollers, thus reducing the time and cost for maintenance.                      

    Rotogravure

    Gravure press has more guide rollers and mechanical parts than flexo press, thus increasing the time and cost for maintenance.                       

     

    Manpower          

    Flexo

    Simple structure, easy operation. Less manpower is required.

    Rotogravure

    Complicated structure and long web route make it complicated for operation. Therefore, more manpower is required.

     

    Running cost

    Flexo

    Total printing cost: 10%-20% of gravure

    Ink consumption: 30% less than gravure

    Power consumption: 40% less than gravure

    Waste rate: less than gravure.

    Less manpower cost than gravure.

    Rotogravure

    Plate-making is complicated and high cost; high maintenance cost;

    More ink consumption;

    More energy consumption for ink drying, etc. Printing cost is higher than flexo.