View of Development and Application of Flexographic Printing in China

First, the outline of the flexographic printing

Flexo, offset, gravure, and screen printing are the four most common printing methods in the world. Flexo printing is a printing method in which a flexographic plate is a plate material. With the continuous application of new technologies, flexographic printing has made great progress. The quality of products has followed the offset printing and gravure printing, and it has a very strong market competitiveness.

Flexo printing process flow:

It mainly includes two major steps: plate making and printing.

The plate making process is generally:

Manuscript - Film (Positive) - Back Exposure - Main Exposure - Development Rinse - Drying - Post-processing - Post-exposure - Stickers for on-machine printing

The printing process is generally:

Printing materials - Printing (including reverse printing) - Varnish or lamination, etc. - Die cutting - cutting - inspection - storage

Second, the main features of flexible printing

1. The flexographic plate is composed of a harder polyester plate base and a highly elastic photosensitive material and is lightly pressed. Therefore, its most obvious feature is its elasticity.

2. There are few investment equipments, and the production cycle is short. The flexo printing production cycle usually takes only two days, while offset printing is as much as two weeks.

3, the device structure is simple, easy to operate, the machine occupies less space.

4, high production efficiency, low production costs, can set printing, polishing, bronzing, film, indentation, die-cutting, waste and other processes in one, high yield.

5. The range of printing materials is relatively wide, such as paper, plastic film, aluminum foil, self-adhesive paper, etc., but there is still room for development.

6. The quality of the printed matter is good, the printing precision can reach 150 lines/inch, the printed matter is rich in layers, the color is bright, the ink layer is full, the printing quality is high, and it can be comparable with gravure printing.
7. The use of new water-based ink and solvent-based ink, less noise, both in line with environmental protection, but also to meet the packaging requirements of food, medicine, tobacco, alcohol, cosmetics and other commodities.

Third, flexo equipment

â—† Imported narrow-width multi-function unit type flexo printing machine

1, application range

In the initial stage, it was mainly used in the sticker and label industry in the packaging and printing industry. With the continuous enrichment of new technologies, it gradually extended to all types of packaging paper and cartons, among which the development of folding cartons was particularly prominent.

2, import main manufacturers

In the United States, Ma Andy, United, Pioneer, as well as Jakarta, Yidi, Esso, Kang and other manufacturers, introduced a total of more than 150 flexo production lines. Such equipment is mainly used to print cigarette cases and labels. Mainly

3, development characteristics

The speed of development is very fast and is well received by the packaging and printing industry.

â—† Domestic unit type flexo printing machine

1. Application range

Widely used in cigarette packs and wine labels printing * Gradually replaced the traditional gravure printing in the printing of short cigarette packs.

2. Seven companies engaged in printing machine production:

Shanxi Taihang Printing Machinery Factory, Shaanxi Printing Machinery Factory, Beiren Fuji, Shanghai Ziguang, Wuxi Baonan, Wenzhou Shenli, Shaanxi Black Bull Printing Factory.

3. Development characteristics

At present, the manufacturing technology of domestic flexographic presses has basically reached the level of imported machines. Its reliability and function can basically reach the level of imported equipment. Its plate making, ink modulation, printing pressure adjustment, ink cleaning, etc. are greatly different from the traditional printing process.

With the development of digital technology and laser technology, the engraving of high-line-number ceramic transfer roller has become a reality, so that the amount of ink on the flexible resin plate is accurate and stable, and the quality of printing graphics has been a leap of paper.

At present, domestically-made flexographic presses should avoid weaknesses as a whole and should not compete with imported flexographic presses in the long-term, high-efficiency, and high-quality printing fields.

Satellite stacking type

Advantages Completion of color-coded printing on a common printing cylinder. Due to the printing material attached to the roller, the tension of the material changes and the web shrinks after heating. Compact structure, small footprint, positive and negative printing is easy, and the cost is low. Open, the printing unit structure is consistent, the transmission is accurate and reliable, operation, maintenance is simple, before and after the tension processing is easy, to adapt to the width, the color group combination is convenient, follow-up processing even linear, overprint accuracy is moderate.

Disadvantages The common printing cylinder is difficult to manufacture, and the constant temperature coefficient for overcoming the thermal expansion and contraction is complex. The arrangement of the color groups is different, the number of color groups is limited, and the cost of the machine is high. The transmission system is complicated, there are many gear clearance points, the combination of color groups is difficult, and the overprint accuracy is poor

The model is suitable for printing thin substrates with wide width and tension and difficult to control. Self-adhesive and label industry, folding cartons

Fourth, market positioning

1, stickers and labels

2, folding cartons

Offset printing The production of folding cartons is complex, the production cycle is long, and the flexo printing is shorter. The water-based inks used are more environmentally friendly.

3, wine labels

Beer is a very large market for domestic consumption. After processing with a flexo printer, not only the production cycle is shortened, but also the cost is reduced, and the printing quality can be comparable to offset printing and gravure printing.

4, newspaper printing

main reason:

The color effect is better than offset printing, clear, bright and vibrant.

Due to the printing of water-based ink, the paper is almost dry, the reader's fingers will not stain, and the table cloth on the breakfast table will not be easily soiled.

With flexo printing and color paper, paper loss, operation is also easier than offset printing.

It is good for the environment. Economically advantageous, not only reduces paper loss, but also saves machine time, and the weight of paper can be further reduced.

Such as London's "Daily Mail" circulation of 2.2 million, and now add another 50 million US dollars flexo printing machine; in Italy, 1/4 of the newspaper is flexo India, and now add another 30 million US dollars of soft Printing machine.

Fifth, the actual status of flexo printing in the domestic development and application

â—† There is a problem

1. The print quality is not up to the required level, and the entire flexographic process from print design, plate making, printing to post-press processing has not been fully mastered.

2. Domestic flexo printing is still in its infancy and its product sales volume is relatively small, making it difficult to withstand business and develop markets.

3. In some supporting links, there are problems such as high price and long delivery time. In terms of the selection of purchased parts, the gap between domestic flexographic presses is also very large.

4. Flexo printing high-end product plate prices are too high.

5. The mechanical and electrical control level is at the mid-range and low-end level. The printing speed is about 100 meters/minute. The printing quality is relatively stable, but the linkage function of grinding, bronzing, etc. after printing is quite different from that of similar foreign machines.

6. Import equipment suppliers are more concentrated than two or three suppliers, and after-sales services are often not in place.

â—† Advantages

1. Domestic flexo presses are cheap, easy to maintain, and have broad prospects for development in many small printing plants and township printing plants.

2. For short-run prints, flexographic plate making is much cheaper than gravure, and the accuracy of registration is comparable to that of gravure, and the quality can also meet the requirements.

3. The flexo die-cutting system uses a rotary die-cutting machine with a web width of up to 55 inches and a maximum speed of up to 1200 feet per minute with a wider choice of molds.

â—† Development direction

1, flexible packaging

2, paper bag and multi-layer composite bag

3, trademarks and labels

4, corrugated boxes

5, folding cartons

6, envelope

7. Newspapers

Fourth, prospects

1. Foreign flexographic development forecast

So far, the U.S. flexo print for flexible packaging has exceeded US$19.2 billion and continues to maintain an annual growth rate of more than 5%. According to the statistics of the American Flexographic Technical Committee, flexo printing in 2000 will increase by 9% over 1999, flexible packaging will increase by 5%, turnover will reach 19.2 billion U.S. dollars, and flexo will account for 70% of the total, becoming the biggest challenge for gravure printing. By. Corrugated box printing still occupies a large market, and the annual growth rate of flexographic printing of products such as trademarks and labels can reach 8%, with an annual turnover of 9.7 billion US dollars. Thanks to the use of UV-friendly inks, the printing quality has been improved, and traditional plastic bags have been replaced in paper tote bags, multi-layer composite paper bags and newspaper printing. Envelope printing is also an area of ​​flexo printing applications.

The development of folding carton flexo printing, with a growth rate of up to 10%, rapidly changes the dominance of offset printing. At present, there are 48 flexo lines in the United States used for printing, with annual sales of about 2 billion U.S. dollars. Some people conducted a market survey of 250 folding carton flexographic printing companies in North America. The survey results showed that the processing of reel materials (including flexographic printing and offset printing) will have a great growth, and the market share From 35% in 1990 to 47% in 2000, the gravure printing market continues to show a declining trend. At the same time, the market share of flexographic web printing will double in 10 years, and the total number of offset printing carton The market share still shows a downward trend.

In Europe, the United States, Japan and Australia, liquid photosensitive resin plates account for more than 50% of the market in corrugated box printing, and there is a continued trend of growth.

2. Domestic Flexographic Development Forecast

It is speculated from the domestic potential market that 150 unit flexo presses can be sold in the next five years, and the domestic machine's selling price is about 2 million yuan, which is only one-half to one-third of that of imported machines. The focus should be on folding cartons. The packaging sector should also pay more attention to it, and efforts should be made in short and small sales. To make flexo printing its specialty, it is necessary to reduce the plate and plate prices and strengthen the supply of anilox rollers, inks, and die cutters.

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