To develop finished designs, businesses in the printing industry may use multiple printing methods to achieve the results they want. These processes create designs by applying special effect pigments and multiple colors applied to different types of substrates.
At Polytex Environmental Inks, we provide various customized water-based ink solutions that are compatible with a variety of printing methods. These include gravure, flexo, rotary screen, flat screen, surface, and digital printing methodologies. Here we’ll go over each type, along with their applications, ink properties, and benefits.
Types of Printing Methodologies
Different printing applications may use various printing methods, depending on their individual requirements. These methodologies include:
Gravure printing, or rotogravure, is a printing method that operates at high speeds and long runs while producing high-quality images. The process works by engraving images onto image carriers, specifically a copper cylinder, using a rotary press.
Flexo or flexography printing is a popular method for producing packaging designs, serving as a contemporary type of letterpress printing. The name flexo comes from the fact that its initial application was on uneven corrugated cardboard, requiring flexible printing plates to apply ink to the cardboard surface.
Rotary screen printing equipment uses roll-shaped screens to facilitate continuous printing. This equipment features a metering system that manages dye paste feed, along with a rotating blanket attached to the machine to prevent width and length distortion, a dryer, a print head, and fixation machinery.
Flat screen printing, also known as flatbed screen, uses a more automated printing method as opposed to outdated manual silk screen printing. Each design motif and color has its own screen, and the equipment prints a limited area without a continuous pattern.
Surface printing includes techniques that print an image onto a flat surface made of stone, metal, or other materials. The amount of ink this method requires and the lack of crispness seen with other methods produce a unique look for each design.
Digital printing involves printing digital images onto certain media substrates without the need for a printing plate. This method uses digital files such as PDFs to guide the printing press as it applies images to paper, canvas, and other materials.
Applications for Each Method
Each printing method is suitable for a variety of applications such as:
Many applications in the food manufacturing and non-food packaging industries use gravure printing. Additional applications include labels, transfer printing, wall coverings, and applications in the tobacco, industrial, and security printing industries.
Packaging and labels for plastic bags and many other packages use flexo printing. Wallpaper, gift wrap, and other applications also use this method for its ability to produce continuous patterns.
Wallpaper, packaging, and other materials requiring fast-drying ink use rotary screen printing. It’s also suitable for greeting cards, magazines, and high-volume ad materials.
Industrial and consumer applications use flat screen printing for producing ceramic and glass products, along with clothing.
Decals are a common application for surface printing.
This printing method helps produce posters, signage, newsletters, letters, menus, and labels.
Ink properties for each method include:
Gravure inks are liquid inks with a low viscosity, which facilitates easier engraving and transfer onto substrates.
Flexo uses quick-drying, water-based inks that enable faster production and effective application.
This method tends to use UV screen printing ink with a mix of pigments, monomers, oligomers, and other elements.
Flat screen printing may use a wide variety of colorful inks of higher viscosity, including water-based, discharge, and plastisol inks.
Surface printing inks often feature high gloss, rub resistance, and resistance to solvents, water, and other materials that could come into contact with the printed surface.
Unlike other processes, digital printing uses toner as opposed to ink, as it sits on top of paper without absorption.
Each printing method also comes with various advantages, such as:
Gravure printing consists of continuous-tone images of consistent print quality, with fast production speeds and ample durability.
Flexographic printing equipment runs at high speeds, and is compatible with many substrates such as paper and plastic. It’s also cost-effective compared to other methods.
This printing method allows for faster production rates, increased ease of setup, and reduced reliance on experience to facilitate successful operation.
Screen printing’s cost-effectiveness makes it suitable for bulk printing applications. It also produces high-quality output, more durable prints, and versatility.
Surface printing features high flexibility of print materials. It’s also ideal for high-surface patterning volumes and applications requiring simple designs.
Digital printing offers low-cost setup and fast turnaround, accurate transfer of photographic images, a variety of custom printing capabilities, and ease of printing in a range of colors.
Support for Printing Processes at Polytex
Regardless of the printing processes you use, Polytex Environmental Inks can support you with high-quality inks. We’ll help you find the best products for your application.