If deciding to use custom labels for marketing, you may already know that there are a number of different printing options available. Digital printing is a mainstay for smaller printing jobs, but also be aware that this form of printing might not be the best option.
So we are often asked, “What is the difference between Flexo Printing and Digital Printing?”
The Two Methods
In this article we take a look at these two methods of creating custom printed labels, and note some of the strengths and weaknesses of each method. This will help in understanding which method is most suitable for specific needs.
Digital Printing – Pros and Cons
Digital printing does not have the history and the pedigree of the other printing methods, and up until recently it could not deliver the same results. But not anymore! When going with the right provider, the quality is so good that it is actually very hard to tell the difference between digital and flexo printing.
Digital printing is superior for its fast turnarounds and its flexibility. Because we are not dealing with the plates and the complicated printing equipment of the flexo process, setup is much quicker and it is far easier to change and update label designs. This is definitely a good option for short printing runs, and ideal for full color (CMYK) jobs, because it can save a lot of money.
But despite the advancements that have been made, digital printing cannot perform the same color tricks as flexo (graduated tints, metallic inks, color matching, etc.), and colors do not hold their vibrancy for as long.
If you need to match specific shades, digital printing would not be the option for you because it involves mixing colors together and is by nature a variable process. The colors in any given job may look different when printing on Monday then when printing on Tuesday. For instance one of the variables that affect the shade would be the weather. There are many variables when working with digital printing. Therefore, if you need to match colors, always opt for printing flexo, where Pantone color matching can give you exact color matches.
There aren’t as many choices with regards to what materials to print on, but stay tuned; this is improving quickly.
Flexo Printing – Pros and Cons
Flexographic printing is one of the most common label printing techniques. In this process, ink is applied to a relief plate cylinder, which then prints the relief design onto the label material.
Advantages of Flexographic Printing
Probably the two best advantages of flexo printing are the quality of the results and the versatility. A good flexo line can produce labels that are vibrant and sharp, and the labels will stay vibrant for longer than digital prints. Print on all kinds of materials and have any type of marketing product made, including stickers, tags, banners and coupons. This is the ideal method for printing metallic labels or pantone colors, where needing a specific color match.
What about the disadvantages? Flexo printing has higher startup costs, and the main cost is to have the printing plate created. This is not a big deal if wanting lots of prints (the more that is ordered the more cost-effective it becomes), but digital printing is often a better option if having a small custom order. The high quality ink might be vibrant and long-lasting, but to the untrained eye, sometimes you can’t tell the difference. Digital printing might be a better option if dealing with a very intricate design with lots of different colors.
Given the pros and cons of different printing processes, it is up to you to decide which printing method is most suitable and which is going to give you the best results for the price. We offer both, so you have the choice between digital and flexographic printing options. It is simply a case of working out which option is most suitable for your particular needs.