Flexography – applying the flexibility principle in printing

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Flexography – applying the flexibility principle in printingIn the printing industry, flexographic printing is a domain with one of the most dynamic development. While 20 years ago it was impossible to imagine that it could compete with offset printing or gravure, now we can say that this technology has a very good price-value ratio.

This technique is called this way because it was originally used as a method of printing corrugated cardboard. Due to the irregular surface of this material such printing machines required a special plate, able to maintain permanent contact with the printed surface, a flexibile plate.

Often used for printing on plastic, foil, film, cardboard or other materials used in the packaging industry, printing machines using flexo technique,  are based on flexible plates made  of photopolymer. On these plates ,using laser or through UV exposure of the film negative is imprinted, the image that we want to print.

Another important element is the anilox roller. It is made of a hard material, usually steel, coated with industrial ceramic which contains millions engraved cells. Depending on the desired design, the anilox is semi submerged in ink. Thus a thin layer of ink is deposited on the cylinder. A spatula – called Doctor blade – cleans the excess ink from the anilox, leaving only the desired amount in anilox cells. Anilox rotates and comes in contact with the plate, receiving the amount of ink required to make image transfer on the
print media.

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Being a special domain in printing, flexographic printing, in terms of equipment, can be divided into three categories based on three main criteria: a. the arrangement of print cilindres, these being, flexografic printing with single cylinder backpressure, flexographic printing presses based on a linear structure, flexographic with central drum counter; b. according to the nature of the ink unit: conductive flexographic printing cylinder, flexographic printing with scraping chamber; c. according to the type of ink used:  flexographic with water based ink, flexographic printing with solvent based ink, flexographic printing with UV inks.

As listed so far, one can be sure that there are many types of flexographic presses to choose from, but there is one place that has all this market has to offer, which is : http://www.allforprintmarket.com/2-printing-machines/, suitable for the most flexible ideas .

Anyway if anybody is opened to suggestions, by comparing  the different processes we can say, the one that best fits the requirements of today is that one, which uses central backpressure cylinder ,with scraping chamber and  without gear.

Altough, in the beginning, flexo printing was very low in quality in recent years there have been significant improvements in terms of plate material and the method of their creation.

Also flexography uses viscous inks that dry quickly and is a technology that allows fast printing on many types of materials (absorbent or non-absorbent) thus becoming one of the most used techniques in high quality printing. The most typical applications of flexography are paper and plastic bags, milk cartons, packages for sweets and of course self-adhesive labels.


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