Just like offset and flexography printing, gravure printing is realised by using a rotary printing press. This means the printing process consists of rotating cylinders instead of sheets pressed on the paper. But in this case the image carrier is different when compared to the other two techniques. This technique involves engraving the image onto an image carrier. The cylinder which contains the image gets engraved, which means that small holes are being made into the cylinder which represent the print image.

As mentioned before, flexo works with a cliché which has raised printing surfaces. The raised surfaces pick up the ink and transfer it to the substrate. In gravure printing it works the other way around; all the small holes in the gravure cylinder get filled with ink and directly transfer it onto the printing substrate. So in this case, the image carrier rotates directly through the ink fountain/ink pan. Other printing techniques make use of separate cylinders which transfer the ink to the image carrier and eventually print it on the substrate. Gravure cylinders print directly on the substrate.

Advantages of (roto)gravure printing

  • Production speed: rotogravure can reach a very high printing speed
  • Print quality: gravure printing has a consistent print quality
  • Durability: the gravure cylinders can be used for several (repeat) print jobs

Disadvantages of (roto)gravure printing

  • High costs for producing the gravure cylinder
  • High set-up costs: this means that large orders are profitable

Rotogravure vs Offset

  Rotogravure Offset
Print quality High High
Run length Long Short / medium / long
Cylinder / plate costs High Low
Job changeovers Long 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 rotogravure module can easily be integrated in the machine for e.g. metallic effects.

The gravure printing process consists of:

  • Ink fountain
  • Gravure cylinder (image carrier)
  • Doctor blade (scraping off the unnecessary thick layer of ink before it is transferred to the substrate)
  • Impression cylinder