Flexo and digital – what solution fits your labelling needs?

The price and quality of flexographic label printing has been (and still is to a certain extent) the go-to method for printing custom labels. Flexographic labels have the advantage for high volume product label orders, but there are setups for each label job – preparing your label artwork to create printing plates, setting up the label press, mixing inks for color matching, and machine calibration. If you’re a smaller company or you just need fewer product labels – this is where digital printing has the advantage.

Digitally printed labels are vibrant high-quality labels that can be used for practically any project. Unlike flexographic presses that uses polymer plates to transfer ink onto materials, digital presses use dots of ink to recreate an image from a digital file. The process is very similar to how your desktop printer works. If you’re new to custom labels, or considering making the switch from flexographic labels to digital labels, we’ve put together this guide to help you understand the advantages of digital printing.

  1. Quick Turnaround – Digital label printing doesn’t require plates which means you don’t have to pay for a printing plate for each color on the label. No plates also means a shorter setup time so your labels are printed faster – and you receive your labels in less time.
  2. High Quality – When it comes to product labels, high-quality graphics and colors grab the most attention. Our digital presses print at a resolution so your labels end up with crisp, clear images and life-like colors.
  3. Price – No plates and less press setup time means the costs for digital label printing are relatively low for short run labels as compared to flexographic labels.
  4. Short Run Labels Capability – This cost/benefit is maximized for small quantities of custom labels, also known as “short run labels.” Another advantage of digital printing: you can order only the amount of labels you need right now, rather than ordering labels in bulk simply to get the best price.
  5. Design Flexibility – In order to be competitive, you should regularly examine whether your design works for attracting your target audience. The cost of printing new label designs on a flexographic press can hurt your bottom line due to plate charges and setup fees. If you have multiple product label designs, costs can add up even quicker. With digital printing, there are no plate or setup fees, so we can start printing your labels sooner.

Digital printing is popular across many markets because it can print 500 or 5,000 custom labels with each individual label containing different information. This capability – known as variable data printing – opens up great new creative possibilities for customizing labels: you can add names from a database, consecutive numbers, multiple barcodes, or even print multiple versions of the same label.

The digital plus flexographic solution.

At Watershed we use the latest presses that combine digital and flexo. Built upon the industry leading Performance Series platform, Mark Andy Digital Series hybrid is a commercial approach for any size job. It leverages the advantages of digital with the proven capabilities of flexo printing to provide the total production solution. Optimized hybrid platforms combine the power of digital and the flexibility of flexo to exceed your label and packaging application needs. As opposed to a traditional digital solution, our hybrid portfolio is an efficiently designed, end-to-end workflow offering digital printing with in-line converting, decoration and finishing all in a single pass for any size converter or any size job.