1. What is flexographic printing

According to the definition of China's printing technology standard term GB9851.4-90, flexographic printing is a printing method that uses a flexographic printing plate to transfer ink through an anilox roller.

Flexographic printing is derived from the English Flexographic, also known as flexographic printing or flexographic printing. In terms of its meaning, all printing technologies that use flexible printing plates can be called flexographic printing. In this sense, the most commonly used rubber plates, flexible photosensitive resin plates for corrugated box printing, and thin flexible photosensitive resin plates for label printing, etc., should be classified as flexible plates, but now everyone agrees to exclude rubber plates In addition to flexographic plates, only flexible photosensitive resin plates are recognized as flexographic plates.

Therefore, flexographic printing specifically refers to printing methods that use flexible photosensitive resin plates (including flexible photosensitive CTP plates) for printing. Strictly speaking, flexographic printing is actually a branch of letterpress printing. In the field of label printing, it is a misunderstanding that people split flexographic printing from letterpress printing. It is often said that letterpress printing uses hard resin plates, while flexographic printing uses flexible photosensitive resin plates, both of which are It is letterpress printing, but the printing plate is soft and hard, and the printing process is different.

2. Development history of flexographic printing

Flexographic printing was originally called flexographic printing. It originated in the United States in the early 1920s and was named for its use of flexographic dye inks. In the catalogue of China's import and export commodity tariffs, the name "flexographic printing press" has been used in previous years. Only after the revision of the past two years, the "flexographic printing press" was used.

The original flexographic printing quality was very poor, and the printing plates used were mainly rubber plates. Since then, the inks used in flexographic printing technology have begun to abandon aniline dyes and use dyes with low toxicity. In 1952, at the 14th Packaging Symposium in the United States, flexographic printing was renamed "FLEXOGRAPHIC PROCESS", which is now the name. After the mid-1970s, due to the progress of the material industry, especially the advent of polymer resin plates and cermet anilox rolls, the development of flexographic printing has made a qualitative leap. The flexographic printing industry got rid of the previous low-end image and became the fastest growing printing method in the world.

The United States is the birthplace of flexographic printing and the market with the highest level of flexographic development. Whether it is the manufacturing technology of printing presses or the application technology of flexographic printing, the United States represents the highest level of flexographic printing in the world. European flexographic printing is also very developed, especially in the field of labels, flexographic printing has become the mainstream technology in the European market. China's flexographic printing technology has developed late, but it has grown the fastest. At present, the application of technology in the field of flexographic printing in China has been synchronized with developed regions in Europe and America.

According to statistics, the current domestic market share of flexographic printing in the US is 70% in the field of flexible packaging printing; 85% in the field of label printing; 98% in the field of corrugated paper printing; and 25% in the field of carton printing. It also accounts for 60%, 35%, 85% and 2% in Europe. In the United States, even 20% of newspapers are printed on flexographic plates. These figures are sufficient to prove the vitality of flexographic printing.

3. Features of flexographic printing

1) Water-based ink can be used for printing without VOC emissions, which is an environmentally friendly printing method.

2) The printing plate used for flexographic printing is a soft and elastic rubber plate or resin plate. The Shore hardness is generally 25 to 60, and the transfer performance of the printing ink is good.

3) Light printing is used for printing, and the printing plate has a very high durability.

4) The printing machine adopts the anilox roller inking system, which eliminates the complicated inking mechanism, thus greatly simplifying the operation and maintenance of the printing machine. At the same time, the anilox roller inking can accurately control the amount of inking, and the inking control and response are more rapid.

5) Flexible printing equipment usually uses roll-shaped materials, from double-sided multi-color printing to glazing, laminating, bronzing, die cutting, licensing fees, rewinding or slitting, etc., which can be completed in one continuous online operation. Therefore, flexographic printing can greatly improve production efficiency, shorten the printing cycle, and reduce costs, so that enterprises have an advantage in the fiercely competitive market.

4. Varieties of flexographic plates

There are many types of plate materials used in flexographic printing. The main suppliers include DuPont, BASF, Flint Group, Midea, Kodak, Asahi Kasei, Toyobo, Lucky Huaguang, Shimei, etc. According to different classifications, we will sort out the flexible plate materials currently on the market.

1) According to the thickness. There are usually 1.14mm, 1.7mm, 2.28mm, 2.54mm, 2.84mm, 3.18mm, 3.94mm, 6.35mm, 7.00mm and other different thicknesses. Among them, 1.14mm and 1.7mm plate materials are mainly used for fine printing, while plate materials over 3mm are mainly used for carton printing.

2) According to the scope of application. There are mainly corrugated paper, labels, flexible packaging, bill forms, etc.

3) According to the imaging format. There are mainly hand-carved blankets, laser engraved rubber plates, liquid resin plates, photosensitive resin plates, water-based flexible plates, and photosensitive resin digital plates.

5. Types of flexo printing machine

Flexographic printing can be applied in a wide range, involving a wide variety of printing machines. The following is based on different classification methods.

1) According to the size. It can be divided into narrow-format flexo printing and wide-format flexo printing, in which the printing width of narrow-format flexo printing is less than 500mm, and the printing width of wide-format flexo printing is more than 500mm.

2) According to usage. There are narrow-width flexographic printing machines for label printing, wide-width flexographic printing machines for carton pre-printing, water-based printing machines for direct printing of carton boxes, flexographic printing machines for bill form printing, for book printing Wide-format flexo printing machine, wide-format flexo printing machine for plastic flexible packaging and other packaging, etc.

3) According to the equipment form. Can be divided into cascading type, satellite type and unit type.

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