While Flexo continues to grow in volumes as Print technology taking away volumes from offset and Gravure, there is also a sea change occurring in the substrate handling process. While CI Flexo presses take on the wide web gravures and offer eco-friendly advantages over Solvent based Gravure, the in-line presses have been quietly growing in width up to 850 mm or more and new servo technologies have allowed even 12 Microns or lower materials to be printed as well as extensible material like LDPE to be handled at Decent speeds. With Bespoke packaging making SKUs large and varied and print runs smaller, these mid-web presses do offer a competitive production advantage.
The current generation of printers & converters are getting more inclined to Flexography over other printing processes. The recent press release from reputed media houses shows a significant double-digit growth in sales of Flexo presses across the world. This trend will increase with the growing demand for short-run print jobs within the due frame of time because increasing competition is forcing brand owners to have small product lifecycle. Some of the key examples of short life cycle products are Mobile Phones, LED TV’s, FMCG & Pharmaceutical products etc.
Central Impression v/s In-line Flexo Presses
(Fig. Central Impression Flexo Press)
Over the years, central impression Flexo presses have enjoyed many advantages over In-line Flexo presses such as the ability to print on thin substrates e.g. 12-micron films, Cost-effective printing for medium to long-run print jobs, easy changeover, better register control and overall cheaper than Solvent based Gravure presses.
(Fig. Lombardi Invita In-line Flexo Press)
But due to advancement in modern flexo technology, the Narrow to Mid -Web Inline Flexo presses have overcome their shortcomings and putting an immense challenge for Central impression Flexo presses resulting in a surge in sales of these presses. The latest Narrow-Web flexo presses possess some of the advanced features such as:
1. Flexibility to Print on the wide gamma of Materials: Modern Inline Flexo presses are capable to print on substrate ranging from 12micron films to 600gsm boards.
2. Wider width range from 330mm up to 830MM width thus becoming competitive for long-run jobs as well.
3. High Press Automation including Auto change, Job Storage, Pre-Register and Auto register etc.
4. Cost-effective in terms of machine price & its consumables such as Inks, Plates etc.
5. Quicker Change over with ease of Access to units.
6. Better Substrate Handling with new Servo Technologies for Stretchable materials.
7. Flexibility to add finishing stations such as Hot stamping, Die-Cutting, Hot/Cold Foiling, Turn-Bar etc.
8. Modularity to add/remove printing/finishing stations.
9. Incorporation of Color Digital Printing techniques making these presses as Hybrid thus offering variable data personalization.
The recent advancement in In-line Flexo machines are a huge plus for Flexo industry and we are hoping suppliers will continue to add more value added features to make the future Flexo presses a one-stop printing n finishing solution for the complete range of packaging requirements. Exciting times ahead….