Flexographic Printing vs. On-Demand Printing
Industrial printing involves the application of ink or other materials onto mass-produced products for decorative or functional purposes. The process may be used to create patterns on the surface of a material, apply branding or logos, and provide instructions on the product itself. In addition, industrial printing is often used to print working materials onto surfaces, such as conductors in electronics and printed circuit boards (PCBs).
The two most common industrial printing methods are flexographic and on-demand printing. Flexographic printing is a mechanical process which employs large scale presses and rollers to create uniform patterns and print designs for large production runs. Conversely, on-demand printing involves the separate printing of customized individual pieces.
What is Flexographic Printing?
Flexographic printing uses a roll-fed press to repeatedly print the same pattern onto a material with exceptional speed and consistency. This method is widely used in the production of uniform consumer products, such as:
- Food cartons
- Shopping bags
- Disposable dishes
- Wrapping paper
To produce the print, polymer sheets exhibiting a raised pattern with the desired design are wrapped around a series of cylinders dedicated to each color. The rotary press rolls the pattern through the ink, passes it through an anilox roller to remove excess material, and deposits it onto the substrate. Each consecutive color is applied using an individual cylinder as the material is passed through the press. The ink is then dried using heat or UV light, depending on the material and ink used.
What is On-Demand or Variable Data Printing?
As technology advances, more customizable printing methods are becoming available for industrial use. On-demand printing, also known as variable data printing, uses digital equipment to create and apply patterns, graphics, and text to products with variation between pieces. This automated process allows for quick and efficient printing with adjusted details. This is particularly useful for addressing postcards, advertising materials, and other products which require personalized information.
On-demand printing can be used to generate products with varying levels of customization within the same printing run, from simple name changes to variable fields throughout the printed material. The printed material is designed using specialized software which allows for fundamental formatting and pulls variable information from a linked source or database.
The Differences Between Flexographic & On-Demand Printing
Flexographic and on-demand printing each offer unique benefits for specific production needs. If you need fixed and uniform patterns, images, or text on products in a large scale production run, flexographic printing is an excellent production option. Of note, the equipment used for flexographic printing is highly specialized and can take up a great deal of space. In addition, operators must monitor flexographic printing processes to ensure that the ink is being applied correctly, as the process is typically used for very large orders and errors can be very costly and time-consuming.
On-demand printing is highly versatile, with a variety of options for customization and personalized printing. Advances in technology allow for the design of individual pieces without slowing the printing process, offering a modern and technologically advanced printing option even on larger production runs. In addition to versatility, on-demand printing equipment is much more compact than flexographic equipment and the potential for expensive errors is significantly lower.
On-Demand Printing From DoraniX
DoraniX is pleased to offer the most technologically advanced direct-to-product printing services for everything from cut sheets to pouches and bags, including medical-grade Tyvek. Our state-of-the-art ThermaPrint 64 standard and wide systems offer the added advantage of single thermal transfer printing. In addition to our superior direct printing services, we offer a comprehensive line of integrated label printer applicator (LPA) systems for use on pouches, lids, cartons, sleeves, and other pre-formed products.
At DoraniX, we use the most advanced printing methods in the industry. Our customers can depend on us to set the standard for top quality printing services using the latest innovative technology on the market. To learn how DoraniX’s cutting edge printing technology can improve your products, contact us or request a quote.