Press Capabilities

There are basically four different ways that labels are printed. Each one has its own strengths and weaknesses. Following is a comparison chart to help you decide which is the best printing process for your label.

Letterpress 1. Letterpress
Ink is applied to a "raised surface", and then transferred directly to material. Rubber stamps and the potato prints are examples of letterpress printing. Has ability to print on imperfect surfaces using "soft" plates. Plates can be wrapped around cylinders of varying sizes, giving infinite control over label repeat length.
 
Screen Printing 2. Screen Printing
Ink is "pushed through" a screen mesh. Some cells are open, others are closed, forming the image area. Has the ability to lay down large amounts of ink, carrying a great deal of pigment. Therefore, color depth and control, UV resistance, and abrasion resistance are typically superior to other processes. Inks with conductive silver pigments can only be screen printed.
 
Offset 3. Offset
Flat ("planer") plate accepts ink in image areas, repels it in non-image areas. Ink is transferred to an "offset" blanket and then to material. Excellent reproduction of process color dots, ideal for 4 color process printing on paper. Plate cylinders are expensive and fixed in length, limiting it's use for roll fed label printing.
 
Gravure 4. Gravure
Image area is formed by series of "cells" which are etched in a steel cylinder. Ink is delivered to cells and transferred to material. Exceptional ink laydown, and precise control over process dots, makes gravure the ultimate in rich, fine line process printing. Cylinder costs make the process impractical for label and general purpose printing.
 
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1. Letterpress


Press Type

Ink
Advantages (+)
Disadvantages (–)

Applications
LETTERPRESS
Rotary Letterpress
  Hard durometer plate;
  pastelike inks;
  complex inking
  system;
  moderate run speeds
  (RL)






 
UV Ink











 
+ UV inks print glossy
+ Good alcohol resistance
+ Good opacity
+ Good on fine positive
   copy
+ Registration unacceptable
   for process color
– Slow setup, expensive on
   small run
– Tendency to "ghost" in
   certain designs
– Only fair outdoor durability
   (3-6 mo.)
Pharmaceutical, i.e.
Fine positive copy on
clear materials










 
LETTERPRESS
Flexographic
  Soft durometer plate;
  simple inking system;
  fast run speeds
  (MA, MP)





 
Water-Based
Ink








 
+ Fast run and fast setup
+ Large reverse areas
– Poor opacity
– NO alcohol resistance
– Poor outdoor durability
   (< 3 mo.)
– Only modest color control
– Simple process color
– Tendency to create “halo”
   on edges of letters
Box/Carton labels on paper

Thermal transfer paper

Warning and other
functional labeling

Some durable films for
rating, serial labels

 
LETTERPRESS
Flexographic
  Soft durometer plate;
  simple inking system;
  fast run speeds
  (MA)





 
UV Ink








 
+ UV inks print glossy
+ Good alcohol resistance
+ Good opacity
+ Improved color control
+ Good process printing
   (150 line screen)
+ Large reverse areas
– Only fair outdoor
   durability (3-6 mo.)

 
Pharmaceutical, i.e.
Fine positive copy on
clear materials<

Process carton &
packaging labels

UL durable films for
product ID and rating,
serial applications
LETTERPRESS
Hot Stamp
  (MT)










 
Foil
Ribbons










 
+ "Foil" printing for best
   metallic appearance
+ Easiest s/u press, good
   for small labels and
   small runs
– Small format, fairly
   expensive
– Limited size
– Not good for small
   positive copy
– Colors limited to foils
   on hand, no matches
Small specialty labels










 


2. Screen Printing

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Press Type

Ink
Advantages (+)
Disadvantages (–)

Applications
SILK SCREEN
Sheets
  (SA, SD, SH, SM)

Rolls
  (SR)







 
UV Ink
and
Conventional
Ink








 
+ Best opacity
+ Good chemical resistance
+ Best outdoor durability
+ Best color control
+ Excellent color strength
+ Thick materials
+ Conductive inks
– Expensive & slow
– Limited process capability
   (100 line max.)
– Multiple steps = longer
   lead time
Overlays

Nameplates

Membrane switches

Panels

Durable product ID and
rating labels that need
exceptional performance

 


3. Offset

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Press Type

Ink
Advantages (+)
Disadvantages (–)

Applications
LITHOGRAPHY








 
UV Cured







 
+ Excellent process work
+ Compatible with Screen
   printing
+ Fast and economical
   compared
   to screen printing
+ Excellent fine copy,
   reverse and positive
– Poor outdoor durability
Similar to screen printing
when outdoor durability
and opacity are not
critical. Can be used
effectively in conjunction
with screen printing.



 


4. Gravure

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Press Type

Ink
Advantages (+)
Disadvantages (–)

Applications
GRAVURE
 
(Not available at this time)