In flexography printing (abbreviated to flexo) the plate cylinder is covered with a cliché. This is the image carrier and contains all the text or images which eventually get printed on the substrate. The cliché contains raised printing surfaces which prints the ink on the substrate. So all the raised surfaces on a cliché make the image of the run.

Basically, a full printing press machine consists out of several printing towers; each tower containing 1 colour. Before the printing process can begin, the image carrier needs to be prepared. In flexography this is done by making a cliché plate. Every printing tower requires a specific cliché for the placement of that specific color on the substrate. Once all the clichés have been prepared and installed on the plate cylinders; the ink pans have to be filled up.

Ink types for printing techniques are different in their composition but also in chemical-, physical- and printing-characteristics. It’s important to choose the right ink type for the desired result.
The ink pan is filled up, and the machine gets started up. The substrate starts off as a roll in an unwinder; the function of the unwinder is to unroll the substrate and start moving it through the printing towers.

Every printing tower contains a fountain roll, which rotates through the ink in the ink pan. This roll picks up the ink and transfers it to another roll; the Anilox roll. The Anilox roll transfers the ink to the plate cylinder which is covered by a cliché. The raised printing surfaces of the cliché pick up the ink and print it on the substrate (e.g. paper) which is running through the printing towers.

Advantages of flexo printing

  • High production speed: even faster than rotogravure
  • Can be used on a wide variety of substrates
  • Low costs for producing the image carrier (cliché or plate)

Disadvantages of flexo printing

  • The costs of flexo printing plates is still higher than offset plates
  • Print quality is not that high as rotogravure and offset
  • The colour vibrancy is not as strong as rotogravure or offset

Flexo vs Offset

  Flexo Offset
Print quality Medium / high High
Run length Short / medium Short / medium / long
Plate costs Low Low
Job changeovers Short Short

Our presses, the Vision and the Thallo, are hybrid machines. This means that all kinds of modules can be added to the web offset press. For example, a flexo module can easily be integrated in the machine to add a special coating to your print job.

flexography printing

The flexography printing process consist of:

  • Inking system (ink pan and fountain roll)
  • Anilox roll
  • Plate cylinder (contains the image carrier)
  • Impression cylinder