Explore the Flexographic Printing Process

A brief overview of the most common method of printing labels and tags today...

Flexographic label printing, narrow web (continuous roll), often called flexo printing, is the most common pressure sensitive label printing process in use today. Flexography economically produces exceptional quality labels at high speeds (6000 to 24000 feet per hour). Flexo inks are thin, water-based or in some cases solvent based ink which dry rapidly are transparent, making them ideal for four color process printing (CMYK). Variable data printing, die-cutting and image verification are all accomplished in-line, which when combined with its exceptional speed, makes flexography very efficient for pressure sensitive label manufacturing.

inkFlexography is a rotary relief printing process. The substrate to be printed is fed through a series of inking stations and optional laminating, die cutting, waste striping and 100% visual inspection stations. The printed image is achieved by a soft, flexible plate which contains the image to be printed in relief, much like a rubber stamp. The plate is adhered to a roller called the print cylinder. Each color of ink to be applied must have its own plate and inking assembly.

Each color station contains a tray of ink which goes through a series of cylinders before it is applied to the substrate. The fountain cylinder is partially submerged in the ink tray. As the fountain cylinder turns, it draws ink from the tray and applies it to the anilox cylinder. The anilox cylinder contains thousands of precision engraved cells which receive the ink in measured quantities and a doctor blade which removes excess ink to ensure an even coating. The anilox roller then deposits a thin layer of ink onto the flexible plate where it is ready to be applied to the substrate.

press2After passing through each of the ink stations an in line laminating station may apply an optional protective film coating. The material then passes through a die cutting station which is set to cut through the label and adhesive but leaving the liner in tact. Finally, the waste area outside the labels may be stripped away from the liner before they are rewound onto the uptake roll.

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American Label Group, Inc.
705 Fentress Blvd
Daytona Beach, FL 32114. email@alglabel.com
(800) 504-8247