The APL Blog

Flexographic Printing from APL

At APL Packaging we use a flexographic printer to produce images on our plastic and paper carrier bags. Ideal for producing bold blocks of colour, flexographic printing is a quick and cost effective way of printing your carrier bags.
Printing Plates

Flexographic printing requires a plate which transfers an image onto a carrier bag. The plates themselves are floppy polymer sheets with a raised image, and it’s this raised image that is covered in ink and printed.
Flexographic printing plate
To make a printing plate we produce a negative of the desired image and place it over a light sensitive polymer sheet. The negative sheet and plate are then exposed to ultraviolet light which solidifies the exposed areas and reduces the rest to a gum-like consistency which can be washed away. This produces a defined raised image which is ready to be installed in the printer.

Plate Mounting
After the plate is made it is put on its own plate cylinder and installed in the printer. In the video above you can see the pink printing plate towards the start as it spins on its cylinder.
Each plate is used to produce an image of one colour only. However colourful designs can be built up by using multiple plates, each one with a different colour. Flexographic printing is incredibly accurate and can successfully produce multi-coloured images.

Printing
Once the plate is mounted printing can begin! Flexographic printers rely on 4 different rolls:
  • Ink roller- The ink roller picks up ink from a tray and transfers it to the anilox roll.
  • Anilox roll- Anilox rolls are made from metal and coated in a ceramic with millions of dimples or wells. These wells moderate the quantity and density of ink that is transferred to the plate.
  • Plate Cylinder- Plates have their own cylinder and act like a rotating stamp.
  • Impression Cylinder- This cylinder applies pressure to the carrier bags to ensure the image is smoothly transferred from the plate.

Together the 4 plates interlock like this:
Flexographic printing rollers
Quick Drying
Flexographic printing is unique in that it can use a range of quick drying inks. The printed film is often passed through a dryer before being rewound onto the reel.
Quick drying inks mean faster production times and lower production costs, all of which make flexographic printing a swift and cost effective way to print your carrier bags.
APL Packaging provides flexographic printing on our plastic carrier bags, tape handle bags and twist handle bags. So if you need printed bags for your shop or an event, visit printed carrier bags and get your delivery in 7 days!

Until next time,

Dominic


bibliography:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flexography

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anilox

http://www.ajslabels.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/7..png

http://www.quintco.com/wp-content/uploads/et_temp/FlexoPlate-95170_330x220.jpg
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