Selecting the right printing technology for your labels depends upon a number of factors, including the quantity of labels needed, the label material and ink you require and any special treatments, such as laminating or die-cutting of your labels.
Flexographic printing advantages
For sheer variety of label materials, finishes and inks, flexographic printing offers a significant advantage over digital printing. In addition, most enhancements, such as lamination, die cuts and other special treatments, can be done in a single pass on-press. To do the same with digital labels usually requires separate offline processes.
For longer print runs, the unit cost of flexographic printing tends to go down steadily, as the cost of plates and label stock becomes spread out over a larger number of finished labels.
In addition, flexographic printing enables you to tweak ink colors as needed to match your brand, by adding other colors to them on press. In contrast, digital inks are somewhat of a one size fits all and depend upon the file specific digital profile to achieve the desired match. In short, you’re dependent upon off press digital file alteration as well as trial and error to obtain the desired result.
Flexographic printing disadvantages
For short print runs, flexographic printing tends to be more expensive than digital, because it requires the production of printing plates. In addition, the dot patterns it produces aren’t as tight as those a digital press can create.
Digital printing advantages
For certain applications, digital printing’s higher resolution gives it the edge versus flexographic printing. Also, digital doesn’t require the production of printing plates. That means you can tweak the design of your labels as needed without incurring additional pre-production costs.
Digital printing disadvantages
As label print quantities increase, the cost of digital printing plateaus compared to flexographic printing. That’s because digital inks tend to be 20 to 30 times as expensive as those used in flexographic printing; in addition, in most cases they must be certified to print on specific label media. This cost disadvantage multiplies even faster for full-color labels; they tend to become cost prohibitive to produce more than 10,000 labels.
Digital printing is also limited in the types of inks that can be applied to label media. For example, metallic inks are not available, and most digital printers cannot print graduated tints – a printing technique that requires variable dot sizes.
Which printing technique is best for your label application? Contact us to discuss your needs. We’re here to help!