Digital vs. Flexographic Printing: What is Best for your Printing Needs?

Impact Label offers a variety of printing options for your applications, including digital and flexographic printing. When choosing the format, you will need to determine your label’s variables to determine the right printing process for you.

Digital Printing

Digital printing is growing in popularity due the fact that it doesn’t require tool or dye, which in turn allows an item to go into production sooner. The fact that you do not need tooling to produce a digital label makes it a great option for creating a digital prototype as well. With digital printing you can add variable data to the digital label, like sequential numbering, barcodes, or QR codes. Digital printing also allows you to print an exact image without the use of plates, so unlike flexo printing, you can make many different versions of the image without using multiple plates. A downside to using this printing method is that it can only be used on certain materials, and if you do need lamination or foiling, it must be done separately. Perfect Pantone colors are not available with this method either because it prints by mixing different toners to get the right color, though similar, it might not match exactly.

Flexographic Printing

Flexographic printing is when a flexible printing plate is used to print on a substrate moving through high-speed cylinders. The substrates we offer are metallic film, vinyl, polyester, polypropylene, and paper. Flexo printed labels are a great choice for large quantity orders because these printing presses are designed to produce large runs at high speeds. Our presses typically run at 150 feet per minute and can run as fast as 500+ feet per minute. Common applications of the flexographic printing are warning labels, foods, and beverage packaging labels. We are able to produce as small as 0.25” x 0.25” or as large as 9” x 21”. All flexo labels are produced in roll form or fan folded. The pros to using flexo printing is that is works with almost any material, including lamination and foil processes and can be easily matched to pantone colors. The cons are that each plate is custom made, so for intricate designs, more are needed. It is also not ideal for short runs due to the cost compared to digital.

When looking to print either flexo or digital, it is important to know what features are important to you and for your product. Overall, both processes can typically be modified to fits your requirements and we are here to help you through this selection process.