The World of Flexographic Printing

Flexographic printing is not a new process. The first flexographic printing machine was developed in 1890 in England. The flexographic, or aniline printing press as it was called then was manufactured en masse in England until the 1920s, when production moved to Germany.

Back then, the flexographic printer was used in the food packaging industry, at least until the inks were banned because they were unsuitable for printing food labels. This contributed to increasingly low printer sales in the 1940s. Today, flexographic printing is a popular type thanks to recent technological developments.

Some typical examples of flexographic printing include the printing you see on plastic and paper pages, disposable cups, milk cartons and candy wrappers. Newspapers, envelopes and labels can also be printed using this method.

The Process

Flexographic printing is a type of direct rotary printing. This type of printing involves using a raised image located on a flexible relief surface on a cylinder. The cylinder turns, rolling and basically stamping images and words onto various media.

The printing plate itself is created using either an etching, UV or moulding process. The plate is then mounted onto the cylinder. After mounting, the cylinder is inserted into the printing press where ink is applied to the plate using small cups that are filled with it. The plate used in flexographic printing is designed to produce a consistent print. It requires no restructuring, meaning that there is no risk of image variance or irregularity.

Ink Options

There are several choices for inks used in a flexographic printer. Those needing printing on paper and cardboard are best off with water-based inks. Drying time can be completely eliminated when ultraviolet curing or electron beam inks are chosen for printing on cellophane and plastic. Commercial printing, such as that on wallpaper and plastics works best with solvent-based ink.

Materials

For printing on materials like cardboard, the paper’s moisture content on will affect the ability of the ink to cleanly print. For non-paper materials like polyethene, treating of the surface by reorienting surface electrons can assist with ink adhesion. However, there is a risk of over-treating, which can cause issues with printing.

Printing on polyester is becoming more popular, thanks to its high degree of chemical stability and durability. However, polyester – like plastic – does experience a reduction in tensile strength at high temperatures, which can make printing difficult.

Polyvinyl chloride is a type of vinyl film used in over 200 million pounds of packaging yearly. Vinyl film like this is water and chemical resistant, and very rarely requires surface treatment to improve adhesion of the ink.

Press Configurations

A flexographic printing press can be configured in three ways: the in-line press, the central impression press, and the stack press.

The in-line press offers multiple colours, with separate stations for each being mounted in line horizontally. The in-line press makes reverse printing easier, thanks to turning bars which can be used to turn the web over.

The central impression press delivers the impression cylinder to each stationary colour station. This allows for the easier maintaining of proper registration. However, this type of press is not a good choice where reverse printing is required.

The stack press features vertically-stacked colour stations, each having its own plate, cylinder, inking rollers and impression cylinder. The web can also be easily reversed, allowing for double-sided, one-pass printing.

Although other printing methods – such as those used to produce inkjet labels – may offer simplicity in terms of setup and time to final production, the value of flexographic printing simply cannot be denied.

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Is Print Media Extinct?

You may wonder, in these days of digital marketing whether print media actually has any value to your advertising campaign. After all, virtually everyone has a mobile phone, and no one reads the newspaper anymore, do they?

The truth is that traditional print media is as powerful as it’s ever been. Marketing pros know that an effective mix of promotional materials is not complete without both print and digital media. Both elements must work together seamlessly for a brand experience that moves easily between digital and physical. However, what are the elements that make up an effective traditional print media campaign?

Direct Mail

Direct mail was the most effective way to get the message out about a company as recently as 20 years ago. And it still has the same punch; research has revealed the power of direct mail. When one reads print, a different mechanism is engaged than the one when a person reads online material. Online, a reader tends to place their attention on several things at a time. However, offline reading is more focused, with the reader placing their attention on a single element at a time.

Magazine Advertising

Advertising in magazines can have dual impact; not only does it expose potential millions to your brand, but it also aligns your brand with the magazine’s image, which can make it easier for readers to remember you. Magazines are already targeted to a particular audience, meaning that your ad could receive some quality attention.

Newspaper Advertising

Just like magazines, newspapers are targeted to readers. However, they are more focused on opinion than on buying motivation as with magazines. Those who read newspapers do so because they seek information and wish to educate themselves. Tailoring your message for newspapers can be as easy as crafting an op-ed piece which informs readers about your opinion on a subject. Alternatively, you may wish to consider a spotlight piece which devotes a page or more to what you do.

Catalogue or Brochure

These forms of traditional advertising are designed to help the undecided make an informed choice. Not only that, but they help ensure that your business stays in the forefront of customers minds. The key to success with catalogues and brochures is usefulness; the more useful a customer finds your brochure or catalogue, the more likely they will be to keep it. Ensure that the information in your catalogue or brochure is as ‘evergreen’ as possible. This means content that will not ‘age’. For example, providing useful tips will work better than talking about recent news headlines.

Leaflets and Flyers

Otherwise known as door drops, the delivery of leaflets and flyers can also have a great impact on your marketing efforts. As well, they can also bridge the traditional and digital gap. Your leaflets and flyers can contain a QR code, special tracking links and similar elements that can bring your customers to your online door.

These all represent varying channels that can be used to communicate with your potential and existing customers. They each also possess their own strengths which you can exploit to grab and retain the attention of your customers. Print media offers you a higher degree of security beyond that which simpler marketing like that on product labels can supply; it gives multi-faceted information about your company that readers can use to improve their own lives, or at least associate with publications that are already helping them to do so. A professional print marketing professional can advise you on the best combination and course of action for a campaign that combines both traditional and print advertising.

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Common Printing Types

If you are contacting a professional printer for the first time, you may have heard of several different kinds of printing processes, but may not have been sure how each actually works. The good news is that you no longer have to wonder about the differences between them; simply read on and learn more.

Understand This First
It is important to consider that there is much more to the printing of anything, including inkjet labels than simply transferring images and words to paper. Paper is, in effect, a carrier of a message. However, it also offers an experience; one of holding and feeling of the paper. There are many types of paper, and choosing the right one for your needs is crucial for a successful printing run.

Gravure
Gravure is a printing process whereby an image is transformed into tiny dots that are halftone in colour. Gravure printing is most commonly used where long runs are needed, such as those of packaging and publications. Gravure printing consists of a plate cylinder with tiny ink-holding cells. Excess ink is scraped off of the plate with a blade as the press runs, which leaves ink in the cells only.

Offset Printing
Offset printing is by far the most popular type of professional printing due to its high cost-effectiveness. This type of printing involves roller plates being run through water before they are run through ink. Water adheres to the white spaces of a layout, while ink adheres to image, design and text areas. The plates are pressed to a rubber plate prior to printing on paper. Although high quantities can be printed much faster than with other types, changes are not easily made once the plate has already been made.

Screen Printing
This printing type is exceedingly versatile. Today’s screen printing process allows for longer production runs and produces accurate and brilliant colours, as well as consistency in each. In this process, the ink is shot through a mesh fabric with a squeegee type blade onto the material being printed.

Electrostatic Printing
This type of printing only needs zinc oxide-coated paper, and not plates or ink. Short print runs work best with electrostatic printing, and can print faster than an inkjet printer. The zinc oxide provides insulation in dark conditions and acts as a conductor when exposed to light.

Letterpress
Letterpress printing used to be the standard. Today, this type of printing is often chosen where speciality printing is needed, such as that for posters, fine art prints and books. In letterpress printing, the image area is raised above the rest of the plate, causing the image to make a physical impression.

Engraving
Engraving involves raising or engraving the images being printed for a more attractive and defined image. This process is usually reserved for speciality items like invitations or corporate logos due to its complexity and high cost.

Flexography
Also known as flexo and flexographic printing, this process uses plates that have been photo-etched to remove non-image areas, which are then transferred via ink to the material being printed. Flexography works best for media that exists in roll form, such as plastics, newsprint and foil.

The once-meticulous process of printing has been transformed since 1439, when Johannes Gutenberg invented movable type. Since that time, there have also been numerous advances in technology, which resulted in the several printing processes above. Whether it’s a book or corporate logo, it cannot be argued that there are many types of printing to choose from. Understanding each type can help you to make a more informed decision about the printing type that’s best for you.

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Should you Rebrand Your Business on Your Own?

There are a few questions to ask yourself if you wish to rebrand. One of the most important of these is whether you should rebrand on your own or hire a company to help you.

Questions to Ask

Before you make the decision to rebrand, you might wish to consider a few things. One of these is to think about what makes you stand out from the rest. After you have this information, you might want to think about what kinds of values you wish to be associated with. Finally, ask yourself whether or not you have a vision or a mission statement as well as what kind of personality your brand has. Then, and only then should you consider whether to rebrand on your own or to call a professional.

Rebranding your labels and other marketing material

Doing the most effective rebranding possible begins with obtaining the knowledge of an expert. Remember, rebranding means a change of everything, from your advertising materials right down to your security labels. A graphic designer can do a lot to assist you with creating a refreshed brand that will have an impact on your customers.

The good thing about graphic design is that it often goes hand-in-hand with printing. This means that any professional printer you hire for the printing of your clothing or advertisements will likely have its own in-house graphics department. The experts in this department will have the marketing know-how to give you priceless advice about the best ways to rebrand your business.

Get More Than One Opinion

Where the rebranding of any company is concerned, it’s best to get more than one opinion. Finding out what more than one designer thinks will give you a clearer picture of where you think your rebranding efforts should go. Those less tangible elements of your brand, such as its tone and feel can be addressed by graphic designers and printers.

Provide Enough Information

Every rebranding effort requires sufficient information to be presented to the graphic designer and printer. Without it, your whole rebranding team is shooting in the dark. Therefore, ensure that you provide enough information about your products, existing and ideal customers, business background and current status of your company in the market. You will also want to ensure you have given enough information with regard to whether or not you see your company growing in the next few years.

You might also wish to explain why you want to rebrand your company. This is important, as it could save you money if your team of experts doesn’t think that rebranding is necessary or will help. In the same vein, you will want to communicate to your team what you hope to achieve from rebranding your business.

Don’t forget to communicate to your team what you like and dislike in terms of marketing. To illustrate this, provide samples of magazine ads, logos and fonts that you find attractive. It’s also vital to have some idea of your budget so that you don’t spend more than you can afford on your rebranding efforts.

Of course, always ask for samples from your chosen printer or designer. These will help you decide who will be working on your company rebrand. It’s also a good idea to go with your gut; a designer who feels right to you most likely is the right one to work with. Finally, ensure that your designer has plenty of room for creativity, as this will get you the best result.

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