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What is Flexo Printing?

Flexo is the printing industry’s lingo for flexography. Flexographic printing has been around for more than a century. The first flexographic printing press was patented in 1890 in England by Bibby, Baron and Sons. The press came to be known as “Bibby’s Folly” because the water-based ink used in the press smeared easily. Advancements in ink made it a more viable process. In its early days, before Flexography was prevalent word in the printer’s lexicon, it was known as “aniline printing.” Aniline oil was an ingredient in the ink.

Today, a flexo printing press can print quality impressions on a variety of materials. It’s one of the least expensive and easiest printing processes used to decorate packaging and to make labels.

Flexography is a form of relief printing. A positive mirrored master printing plate is made to create a flexographic print. A measured amount of ink is poured onto the surface of the printing plate or cylinder using a series of rollers to equally disperse the ink. The plate is a 3D relief made of rubber or polymer that rotates and transfers the ink onto the desired material. The substrate is fed into the press and weaves between four cylinders: fountain roll, anilox, plate and impression. Finishing could include coating, cutting, folding and binding.

Several different types of ink are used during the flexo printing: water based and U.V. curable. Water based inks dry when it evaporates and is absorbed by the substrate. U.V. curable (rising in popularity) inks improve the image quality of flexo printing.

 

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