How Label Printing Works
Sticking to Quality:
The Techniques of Label Printing
Labels play a crucial role in the marketing and branding of products. They provide important information, such as ingredients, usage instructions, and warnings, as well as serving as a means of identification and differentiation. Several methods exist to print labels, and each has its unique benefits and limitations. Contact us today to discuss which solution best fits your needs.
Also known as flexo, flexography is one of the most common methods of label printing. It uses a flexible plate mounted onto a cylinder to transfer ink from the fountain cylinder to the anilox cylinder. This presses against the plate cylinder, which transfers the image onto the label material as it passes through the press.
Flexo is ideal for printing on porous materials, such as paper and cardboard. It is often used for printing labels for food and beverage products, as well as for labelling boxes and packaging. However, changing cylinder designs can be time-consuming, so flexographic presses are most cost-efficient for large orders of at least 100,000 labels.
Another popular method of label printing is to employ digital printing technology, such as inkjet or laser printers, to print images and text directly onto the label material. Digital printing is an ideal option for small runs of labels because it allows quick and easy customisation. Additionally, it is a cost-effective option for printing high-quality labels because there is no need for printing plates or set-up costs.
Screen-printing involves creating a stencil of the desired design, which is then used to apply ink to the label material. It is ideal for printing on various surfaces, including plastic, metal, and glass. Businesses often use screen printing to print labels for industrial and consumer products and promotional items, such as keychains and pens.
Direct Thermal Printing
Direct thermal label printing is a type of printing technology that uses heat-sensitive paper to create labels. This process involves applying heat directly to the label paper, causing a reaction that produces the desired print. This printing technique does not require the use of ink, toner, or ribbons, making it a more cost-effective and efficient printing solution. However, the print quality and durability of direct thermal labels are not as high as those produced via alternative methods, and you are limited to monochromatic designs.
Thermal-transfer printing uses heat to transfer ink or resin from a ribbon onto the label material. It is often used for printing labels for harsh or demanding environments, such as those exposed to extreme temperatures, moisture, and UV light. This is ideal for printing barcodes, serial numbers, and other high-density data, as it produces a high-quality, durable image that can withstand harsh conditions.
Finally, offset printing is a method of label printing that uses a printing press to transfer ink from a printing plate onto the label material, similar to flexo. This process is ideal for printing high-volume runs of labels, as it is efficient and cost-effective. People often use offset printing to print labels for consumer products, such as soap, shampoo, and cosmetics.
This process works using a printing plate clamped around a cylinder, as with flexographic print. This is flanked by another ‘blanket cylinder’ and by a number of smaller rollers called inking and damping rollers. Offset printing works on the premise that ink and water do not mix. Rollers distribute ink and water over the plate, with the water acting as a carrier for the ink as it rests in suspension in the water.
Why is it called 'Offset-Printing'?
The plate has areas that are imaged and non-imaged, depending on what is to be printed. These imaged areas attract the ink, while the unimaged areas repel ink. Once inked, the plate cylinder continues to rotate and ‘offsets’ the inked image onto the rubber blanket cylinder, forming a mirrored or ‘wrong’ reading image.
Labelling material to be printed is passed around the impression cylinder and is pressed against the rubber blanket cylinder, which offsets a single-colour, ‘right’ reading image onto the substrate. To create a full-colour image, four of these units are placed sequentially one after another in a series, building layers of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black along the way.
In conclusion, label printing is a crucial aspect of product marketing and branding. The choice of printing method depends on the specific requirements of the label, such as the type of material used, the desired print quality, and the quantity being produced. Whether you are printing labels for consumer products, promotional items, or industrial applications, there is a printing method that can meet your needs.
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