Flexographic printing is a method of direct contact printing. A flexographic (flexo) printer consists of multiple wheels that work in unison to pick up ink from an ink reservoir, deliver the ink to a printing die or plate, and roll the ink onto the material being marked.
Flexo printers are an excellent choice for these types of printing applications:
- The printed message does not change often
- High quality logo printing is desired
- Printed logos or messages are large
- Specific colors are required (e.g. Pantone colors)
- Printing is only required for short production runs
- The budget for printing equipment is limited
- Simple/low-tech printing machines are desired
The most important consideration when purchasing a flexo printer is the requirements of the printed message(s). How large is the overall size of message to be printed? How often must the message repeat on your material? The answers to these questions will determine the width and circumference of the print drum needed for your printing job.
The Pannier Super Ink Print-All uses a universal frame that can accommodate wheels of several different circumference sizes. As shown in this image, the same size message can be printed with three different print wheels, but increasing the circumference of the wheel increases the space between each repeat of the print.
Printers are available in various sizes, from wide widths that can print material several feet wide to narrow widths that can be used alone or in groups. If several printers are used together, each one can be placed on or off line for runs of different size materials.
Flexo printers use either one or two rolls to pick up and apply ink to the print wheel which holds the printing plates or dies. The wheels are tied together with a chain and sprockets so that they turn in unison. The friction of the print wheel making contact with the moving material is what drives the rotation of all the printer’s wheels.
While there is little difference in print quality or ink usage with the two types of inking systems, there are some advantages to a single roll system:
- The metering blade (also called a doctor blade) is the wear item compared to a pickup roll
- Fewer rolls means fewer adjustments to achieve proper contact pressure
- Fewer components to clean and replace
Two Roll Inking System
In a two-roll inking system, a rubber covered roll picks up ink from the reservoir and applies it in an even layer to the transfer roll. The transfer roll applies the ink to the printing plate.
Single Roll Inking System
A single roll inking system uses a doctor blade to remove excess ink from the pickup roll, leaving a thin layer of ink. This ensures a consistent film of ink is applied to the printing plate.
Printers can be supplied with a variety of supports and accessories to suit your manufacturing needs. Pannier can supply printers with:
- Mounting frames and backup rolls for integration into your line
- Pneumatic cylinders and controls to place printers on and off line
- Ink pumps and chamber doctor blade systems for automatic inking
- Motor drives with controls to bring printers up to line speed