How to Make the Transition from Gravure to Flexographic Printing

Flexographic printing has overtaken gravure printing, with commercial industries now making rapid transitions. If you’re thinking about adopting the flexo printing technique, here are some tips to help you get started. 

 

Flexographic printing and gravure printing are two of the most popular commercial printing techniques. But today, one is significantly overtaking the other. Flexographic printing has been dynamically evolving and changing the game for businesses, thanks to its vast advantages such as: 

  • Faster production time,
  • Reduction of costs,
  • Quality of output, and 
  • Sustainability. 

It’s safe to say that more and more commercial printing companies are making the switch to flexographic printing. So if you’ve been using gravure and are also looking into making the transition, here’s what you need to do: 

Consider if it’s right for your business. 

Just because flexo printing is the top choice nowadays, doesn’t mean that you too should make the switch. There are core differences between the two techniques, and one might be more suitable for your company in terms of substrates or expected output. 

It’s important to walk through it with your team first and determine if flexographic printing can meet your unique needs. To help you make an informed decision, here are some key factors to consider: 

  • Substrates – Gravure printing works best for porous substrates, making it ideal for high detail printing. Flexo printing can work with both porous and non-porous substrates. 
  • Print quantity – Gravure can perform long-run, high-volume printing while flexography is more cost-effective for short-run printing. 
  • Maintenance – Flexographic printing requires more cylinder changing and maintenance compared to gravure. 

 

Crunch the numbers. 

If you’ve been making use of gravure printing methods, then you’re probably familiar with the costs involved for maintenance, materials, and other production considerations. Before making the switch, create a list of all associated costs for flexographic printing and crunch the numbers to see if it fits your budget. 

This shouldn’t be a problem because flexographic printing is a lot cheaper than gravure. Because you have the almost unlimited liberty to choose the materials, inks, and substrates you want to use, you can customize your efforts to suit your budget. Operating costs such as utilities and overhead are also considerably affordable. The only downturn is that flexographic printing has a short press run time, which means more maintenance costs. 

Purchase your equipment 

If you’ve made the final decision to make the switch to flexographic printing, it’s time to purchase your equipment! Ensure that you are aware of all your business’s technical needs before jumping in and making equipment purchases. Take time to find the machinery that can meet your production needs in terms of quantity, quality, automation, and other critical features. 

Read our guide to learn the basics of buying a printing machine for your business. 

Train your team

A new printing technique calls for new equipment with unfamiliar operations. Take some time to hold a training session for your team to help you efficiently and safely navigate your new flexo equipment. 

Flexography equipment has the added benefit of being digitized and innovative to help streamline operations and automate mundane tasks. This can either be an advantage or disadvantage, depending on how you look at it. For instance, manual laborers may have a more difficult time making the transition because of the lack of technical knowledge and skills. So it may take time before you are able to completely transition to flexographic printing. 

In the last 10 to 15 years, regional markets have begun leaning into flexographic printing and abandoning the gravure press. It’s about time your business makes the switch. But in doing so, make sure you’re taking your commercial needs into consideration.

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