This is the second post in a series on printing. Read the first post here.
So you’ve come up with a brilliant idea for a POP display, you’ve had designers like ours at Ardent perfect the structure so it showcases your product beautifully, you’ve chosen graphics that reinforce your marketing message and make everyone in your target demographic want to purchase your product. Now you have to make the big choice: what printing process should you use to get the best results for your display?
For commercial printing, you have a number of options, including: lithography (also called offset printing or litho printing), flexo printing, and digital printing. Below is a primer on flexo printing, so you know when to choose flexo and why.
Flexo printing is essentially printing via a giant rolling rubber stamp. Or, more specifically, a fountain cylinder first rolls in a pan of ink. That cylinder moves against what’s call an anilox roll, which is another cylinder that’s used to evenly distribute the ink. The anilox roll evenly places ink on the plate cylinder, which holds the print plate with your image. Unlike lithographic print plates, which are made of aluminum, flexo print plates are made of a soft, flexible rubber or polymer. Once the anilox roll evenly puts ink on the plate cylinder that’s wrapped with your print plate, your substrate moves between the plate cylinder and an impression cylinder, directly transferring your image to the material. For visual clarification, refer to the diagram below:
Flexo printing is a less expensive process than lithography. However, it has some limitations. Flexo printing is a 1-color process–although you can print multiple colors, it has to be done by blocking out space on your substrate and printing one color at a time. Additionally, with flexo printing, you are usually printing at about 65 dpi (dots per inch– it’s a measurement that refers to how detailed and clear your image is). Litho printing can go up to 330 dpi.
Overall, flexo printing is best used for large washes of color on corrugated displays. Because you can print directly onto the corrugated, it also saves you the trouble of having to mount your images onto your displays. Pretty efficient, no?
Coming up, more information on digital printing and how to prepare your art files for the best printing results!