Have you ever wondered how your favorite cereal box or that snazzy looking beverage label came to be so vibrant and detailed? The answer lies in a widely used printing technique: flexographic printing. Let’s break it down in layman terms.
At its core, flexographic printing, often referred to as “flexo,” is a method that employs flexible relief plates made of rubber or plastic. It’s like a modern-day variation of letterpress printing. The name “flex” comes from the flexibility of these plates.
Imagine a big roller, that’s your printing plate cylinder. Attached to it are the flexible plates, which carry the image to be printed. Each plate is meticulously designed and molded to represent different colors and layers of the image.
The process begins with the plates being coated with fast-drying, liquid inks. This is done with the help of an ink roller known as an anilox roll. This roller doesn’t just slap on the ink. It carefully measures and controls the amount of ink that gets transferred to the plate, ensuring consistency in every print.
Next, the inked plates come into contact with the material to be printed on – could be your cereal box or beverage label. The image is then transferred onto this material, creating the print.
One of the advantages of flexo is its ability to print on a wide variety of surfaces, including plastic, metallic films, cellophane, and paper. It’s also highly efficient for large run orders, making it a popular choice in the packaging industry.
In flexo, colors are printed one at a time. If your cereal box has four colors, it’ll pass through four different plates, each adding its own color. This is why you’ll hear terms like “four-color process” in printing.
So, next time you pick up a colorfully printed package, you’ll know the process and hard work behind those crisp, vibrant colors. It’s all thanks to the magic of flexographic printing!