Many people set their sights on flexographic printing, which can print a wider range of materials, especially substrates such as easy-to-stretch films and ultra-thin films that gravure cannot break through. Flexographic paper-based inks are mature and have advantages over gravure in terms of environmental protection. Representative companies of gravure printing equipment manufacturing companies, such as Songde Co., Ltd. and Shaanxi Beiren, have also developed satellite-type flexographic printing presses and set their sights on the field of flexographic printing of thin films. But at the same time, we also learned that many equipment companies are also actively developing gravure printing equipment suitable for printing plastic ink.
Consider two different printing methods, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. With the maturity of plastic ink, both printing methods will be an environmentally friendly printing method. Then, at this moment, if enterprises invest in printing equipment, they should choose What about flexo ink or gravure ink?
A: Think flexo has more development potential
Enterprises with this view believe that the Chinese people's consumption concept will change, and they will shift their focus from appearance to more attention to safety and environmental protection. This has prompted some large brands to take the lead in increasing the use of flexo printing. Because flexo printing is more competitive than gravure in terms of solvent residues and heavy metal migration. At the same time, the speed of flexo printing equipment is much higher than that of gravure printing, which can save a lot of labor costs, which will also become an important factor for its future development.
Aerospace Huayang Engineer Du Yawen:
At present, flexo printing is the mainstream in Europe and the United States, because they pay attention to environmental protection and safety, and they do not necessarily require how beautiful the colors are. In our country, gravure is the main method. First, the color should be bright, the printing effect should be better, and the other is cost. Flexographic printing plates need to be imported, such as DuPont, BASF, etc. The domestic flexographic printing plates have not been done very well, so the cost of flexographic printing is still relatively high compared with gravure printing.
At present, about 60% of Huayang's satellite flexographic printing presses are exported to foreign countries, such as the United Kingdom, of which there are almost 10 flexible packaging. The situation in China is that there are more flexo bags used in Tetra Pak. At present, our satellite-type flexo equipment can be used for Tetra Pak printing at a speed of 280m / min. The printing effect is the best in China. The speed of flexographic printing equipment used for thin film printing such as thin film PE and breathable film can reach 200m / min.
The current ratio of flexo to gravure does not have an advantage in market share, which is restricted by many factors. However, the market is currently changing. As far as I know, at the current low-end prices, companies generally use gravure printing, but high-end products will use flexo, especially some export orders. This is because flexographic printing is more competitive than gravure in terms of solvent residues and heavy metal migration. At present, two more advancements determine that flexo printing will be more widely used: first, the platemaking technology is improved, and the original resin plate is replaced by laser platemaking; the degree of exquisite flexo printing will be greatly improved; The use cost is reduced.
At present, among flexible packaging enterprises, wholly foreign-owned enterprises, Chinese-foreign joint ventures, domestic wholly-owned listed companies and other powerful and large-scale enterprises are already paying attention to flexo printing, so the application of flexo printing will become more and more widespread in the future.
Zhang Fengnian, General Manager of Shenzhen Bright Ink Coating Co., Ltd .:
The transfer effect of gravure ink is not ideal. I personally am definitely optimistic about the flexographic ink film printing. At present, our BTS8000 series flexo inks can already be maturely applied to film-type special substrates, such as paper cups with PE film flexo printing. It has excellent adhesion, excellent dry and wet abrasion resistance, water and water resistance. Excellent freezing performance. Fine ink; good fluidity; bright colors; high gloss. Low viscosity; high color density. Stable performance; strong printing adaptability. For film flexographic printing inks, we are in the process of research and development. Now Brett builds a production base in Shandong. After production, it will mainly produce plastic flexographic water-based inks and paper flexographic printing inks.
Wu Xiaoguang of Jiashijie (Guangzhou) Chemical Co., Ltd .:
At this stage, flexible packaging is dominated by cost-effectiveness and gravure. Gravure will occupy a major share for a long time. I personally think that in the future, gravure environmental protection will transition from alcohol-soluble inks to water-based inks. With the development of chemical industry technology, the price of light-curable ink materials will drop significantly, thereby improving the environmental protection of gravure. But in the end, it should be that flexo printing will increase the share. Constrained by the characteristics of printing inks and substrates, flexo printing is simple and economical, and the advantages of single small batch printing are obvious. Most of China's flexible packaging orders are characterized by small volume, many specifications, and many batches. With the increase in personalized demand, the advantages of flexo printing in small batches will make it more used.
Printing ink has a good printing effect on paper materials, and printing on plastic has poor fastness and printing speed. Therefore, the application of printing ink is limited to the surface printing of paper materials, and only the soft packaging of paper materials uses ink printing. . At present, in China's packaging printing , gravure printing accounts for 95%, and flexographic printing accounts for only about 5%. And most of the paper packaging printing is mainly gravure printing. Such as cigarette packaging, wine boxes, cartons, cartons, Tetra Pak, Tetra Pill, melon seed bags, seed paper, etc. Flexo printing has failed to gain a large number of applications in the field of flexible packaging, mainly because its printing patterns are not as delicate as gravure printing patterns, colorful stacking, clear layers, and uniform transition. It is difficult to meet the realistic and vivid requirements of Chinese people for printed patterns. Secondly, flexo printing is not as popular in China as gravure printing. There are many low-end equipment, lack of mid-range equipment, high-end equipment is imported, and the price is expensive. The flexo printing products are monotonous, and the products that are graded in batches are dairy products Bailey packaging, without a wide variety of gravure products.
Therefore, the share of gravure ink printing in domestic paper packaging is far greater than that of flexo printing. However, flexographic printing uses less ink, has a faster printing speed, and is more environmentally friendly than gravure printing. With the development of plastic inks, I personally think that the flexo printing of plastic inks will take more share than the plastic gravure inks.
Yin Tengyu total:
In the future development of flexible packaging, I am more optimistic about the development of flexographic ink, because flexographic printing speed is fast, which can save a lot of labor costs. At present, the reasons why flexo printing has not been widely used in the field of flexible packaging are: one is that the one-time investment in flexographic printing is relatively large; the second is that platemaking has not become popular and few domestic companies can do well; the third is that domestic materials have not yet reached Flexo speed requirements. In order to achieve environmental protection for gravure, I don't think that the most ideal way is ink. I prefer solvent-free inks. I heard that Toyo Japan has them, but I haven't understood them thoroughly.
Plastic Cheng Zhengcheng:
If it is my personal consumption, I support flexo printing. After all, flexo printing is still more environmentally friendly. However, from the perspective of the product's pattern reduction effect, at present, flexo printing is not as good as gravure printing, so mass consumer products may still have gravure printing. From a market perspective, one of the role of packaging is to promote consumption, so in the short term, I believe that ordinary people are still willing to see gravure packaging with better printing results. It is recommended that the country support the development of flexo in policy.
Heshan Artus Printing Co., Ltd. Zhu Dewu:
I am more optimistic about the development of flexo printing, because under the premise that water-based inks are also used as environmentally friendly inks, flexo printing has the following outstanding advantages: 1. With the improvement of flexo platemaking technology, the quality of flexo printing is increasingly improved, although there is no concave Thickness of printed matter, but the dot reproduction level is getting better and better; 2. The overall price of flexographic printing machine is relatively cheaper; 3. The anilox roll of gravure printing is expensive and the resin version is much cheaper; 4. The range of amplitude change is more flexible and so on. At present, the reason why flexo printing has not been widely used in the field of flexible packaging is that the development of flexo printing flexible packaging inks is not enough, the quality of flexo printing images is not high, and the relative "short version" of resin plates. In fact, I personally think that the most ideal way to protect the environment is to use solvent-free inks, because inks still have some instability and poor printing results; and ozone pollution and organic VOC emissions during UV ink drying are not suitable for food soft packs.
B: Gravure ink has more development advantages
As gravure plastic inks mature, gravure will be guaranteed in terms of environmental protection. At the same time, because flexible packaging is currently the mainstream of gravure printing, both equipment manufacturers and packaging manufacturers have accumulated rich production and use experience, and supporting inks and raw materials have also formed a complete industrial chain. Therefore, in When developing plastic inks, gravure had natural advantages over flexo.
Ma Pingdong, Deputy Secretary General of China Printing Technology Association Gravure Printing Branch:
At present, in the field of flexible packaging in China, gravure still prevails. Although the share of flexo printing has also increased in recent years, some high-end products with particularly strict environmental protection requirements are also using flexo printing. For example, some outer packaging for maternal and infant supplies and easy-to-stretch film printing have begun to use flexo printing. But at present, it is still that gravure is developing faster than flexo. However, at present, gravure inks have not yet matured, they have not yet entered the era of industrialized production, and some technical problems have not yet been resolved. With the maturity of gravure plastic ink, gravure should have more room for development.
Mr. Xue from North Shaanxi:
At present, we are developing both satellite flexographic printing machines and plastic ink gravure printing machines . At present, our flexographic printing technology is basically close to the gravure printing effect in terms of exquisiteness and rich colors, which can meet the needs of packaging printing companies. However, I am more optimistic about the development prospects of plastic ink gravure printing machines, because the current drying technology and ink technology are constantly maturing. Beiren cooperated with DIC, and has successfully developed PE film ink gravure printing machine, which has been sold to a flexible packaging company and has been successfully produced. PE ink gravure printing has satisfied customers in terms of adhesion, gloss, and peel strength after lamination. need. At present, we are still working with DIC to continue to develop inks printed on PET and BOPP. This is very difficult and the cycle required is very long, but once it breaks through, it can completely replace flexo.
Before discussing which flexographic and gravure inks have more development advantages, we should clearly understand that environmental protection should start from the source. For example, I have seen a packaging bag used to package peanuts, 4 colors of text and patterns, plus a transparent position to meet and express the packaging function and color visual effects. The designer can make it into 8 colors. Printed with large green grass and printed peanut pictures. There is also a chestnut packaging bag. The product needs to be cooked at 121 ° C after packaging. The designer designed a full-color bottom in 2 colors and printed a chestnut pattern. As a result, the ink was too thick and caused the artifact to dry, and the ink could not meet the high temperature of the bag sealing. The bag breaking rate and delamination rate are extremely high, leading to significant losses for packaging companies. The excessive use of this ink is common in our packaging. The solvent residue of the ink has increased the waste and risk of packaging enterprises. Therefore, from the source, we should have a correct understanding of packaging, and establish the conscientious conscience of packaging people. With conscience, we will proactively look for ways to protect the environment.
From the actual situation in China, all of the flexible plates, tapes, and plate cylinders are imported, with a shorter service life, higher requirements for storage conditions of the plates, lower printing volume of the flexible plates, and higher costs in all aspects of production. The technical operators require strict specifications, and the materials used are relatively weak compared with the existing gravure plate roll series. The equipment of the flexible version has a narrow width, a small shift output and low efficiency. Flexographic equipment is small, and the precision requirements are finer and tighter than existing gravure equipment. Generally, companies producing gravure printing machines cannot produce flexographic printing machines. Equipment, technology, technology, and skills of employees require most companies. It is lacking, so the price of flexo printing equipment remains high. The above factors have led to the slow development of flexible version in China's flexible packaging industry , which is difficult for business owners to accept.
Gravure printing has a good foundation for development in China. Its comprehensive use cost is lower than flexographic printing, and its technical force is sufficient. If plastic gravure water-based inks and water-based adhesives mature, gravure will gain more market share. When environmental protection policies and food safety force companies to change, I believe that most companies will choose gravure printing ink, or re-customize water-based ink gravure printing equipment.
Cao Yongpeng of Huian Dali Packaging Co., Ltd .:
Although flexo is a development trend, gravure will still be the main trend in the next few years. I personally like gravure ink. The main reason is that although flexo printing is more environmentally friendly, the color saturation, brightness, color reproduction, and tinting power of printing still cannot reach the effect of gravure. Chinese people like to pack beautiful things and think that there is a grade.
Mr. Li of Jiangsu Zhongma:
In the future, the share of flexo printing will increase, but gravure will still be the main. As soon as gravure plastic ink is mature, gravure can also achieve environmental protection. This is determined by equipment, raw and auxiliary materials, the degree of recognition of the appearance of flexo products, and environmental awareness. Flexo printing is currently not widely used in the field of flexible packaging, mainly because its printing color recognition is not high, and the cost of ink is also more expensive than gravure printing.
Jiangsu Zhongma Guo Peirong:
Gravure has good printing effect, good stability, and long plate life. In comparison, flexo printing is not cost-effective enough for flexible packaging printing. If both gravure plastic inks and flexo plastic inks can mature, the advantages of flexo in environmental protection will not be obvious. Therefore, in my opinion, gravure ink is still the mainstream.
General Manager Wu of Huaxin Color Printing Packaging:
From the broad analysis of application and practice, the two different printing methods must have different adaptability. I think that the market share of film gravure inks will be more, because the gravure ink technology is maturing; and flexo ink The fluidity, surface tension, anilox roller, and embossing principle are printed on non-absorbent films. The performance is definitely worse, but when printing on paper, flexo printing is a strength. However, when flexographic ink is used to print plastic, the surface must be compounded, otherwise it will dissolve. At present, paper towel film flexo printing is used the most, but not ink, but alcohol-soluble ink. In general, gravure is dominant for ink-jet printing films; flexography is dominant for printing paper. Compared with the flexible packaging gravure printing, the PE film of the current packaging of hygienic articles using flexographic printing is far worse. And the one-time investment of the flexographic equipment is too high, the width is over 10 million; in contrast, the gravure of the mechanical shaft can be bought for more than 2 million. In terms of plate making, gravure is also more convenient than flexographic printing, gravure ink is cheaper than flexographic printing, and the printing resistance is also higher than flexographic printing. So in the long run, plastic gravure inks should develop better.
Leo Paper Group Heshan Artus Printing Co., Ltd. Quan Gaobo:
I think gravure ink will have a larger share. Reason: Chinese people's preferences for packaging are more gorgeous, bright, exquisite, etc., and the color performance is mainly dominated by outlets, unlike European and American packaging, which is dominated by simple and heavy solid color blocks. The consumption concept has a strong inertia and will not change easily, so gravure ink printing is more suitable for the development needs of the Chinese market. And flexo printing is not ideal in color reproduction, specifically: the performance of halftone dots and continuous tone is still not ideal (small dots are missing and deformed, and the continuous tone is not smooth enough), and the field is not thick enough. 7-color (C / M / Y / K / R / G / B) flexo printing technology appeared at the Paper Processing Technology Exhibition, but there are still many shortcomings in terms of the performance of its printing proofs.
Li Xuewen in flexible packaging:
In the future development, the share of gravure ink will be much larger. Because the gravure printing pattern is more exquisite than the flexo printing, as well as the matching auxiliary materials, the printing technology is updated quickly. And the effect of the flexographic printing pattern is not realistic, and the production capacity cannot keep up with large quantities.
Mr. Ho, Integrity Packaging:
Paper-printed packaging is definitely the world of flexo printing. In the foreseeable future, soft packaging should still be gravure, because product quality and price factors have not made flexo printing the mainstream of flexible packaging. The limitation of flexo printing mainly comes from the restriction of printing materials, especially ink. Gravure will move towards environmental protection. The future development direction should be ink, but alcohol-soluble ink will be the mainstream of ink for a long time. Light-curing ink will have a large share in professional markets such as medicine. Solvent-free ink The direction is good, but it is very difficult. At present, the shipment of color printers using solid inks is quite small.
C: See the market demand and the company's own order structure to choose
When the equipment and water-based inks are mature, choosing gravure or flexo is more important for companies to make choices based on the order structure of the company. In terms of environmental protection, there is not much difference between the two.
Zhang Xingbin, General Manager of Songde's Flexo Printing Division:
The future of plastic film printing, whether flexo ink is more advantageous or gravure ink will develop better, mainly depends on market demand. As far as I know, foreign flexographic printing also uses alcohol-soluble inks when printing films. From this perspective alone, there is not much difference between the two sides. In terms of printing effect, flexo printing is a bit less fast than gravure printing, and other performances are okay. With the development of technology, the quality of flexographic printing is gradually improved, and the gloss and fineness have reached customer requirements.
The satellite flexo printing method has incomparable advantages to other substrates that are easily deformed (such as breathable film). Even on other printing materials, the flexo printing method consumes far more energy per square meter Gravure is small. This means that in addition to the small ink consumption, satellite flexo printing can also have advantages in material costs (thinner) and energy costs. At the same time, the speed of flexo printing has ample space.
At present, flexographic film printing is mainly applied to the printing of PE film, and the most obvious advantage is that it is fast. In addition, PE film is generally applied to the outer packaging of sanitary products after printing, especially baby diapers, which will directly contact the skin, so benzene-free printing is required. At this point, flexographic printing can fully meet the requirements.
After the drupa exhibition in 2012, Chinese printing and packaging companies imported more than a dozen satellite flexographic printing presses for film printing. This was determined by both the national environmental protection policy and market demand. The state guides everyone to use environmentally friendly printing methods from the environmental protection level, and supports them; while market demand will stimulate equipment and ink companies to increase development efforts, so that the cost of use is reduced, everyone has money, and use flexographic Businesses will be more.
At present, domestic flexo printing is widely used in the field of carton preprinting. This is because the development of paper printing ink is very mature and the amount of use is large, so it has a cost advantage. With the development of ink technology for film printing, it is believed that its cost will also decrease, which will increase the use ratio and be widely promoted.
A flexible packaging engineer:
In terms of production technology, the printing of roll materials, whether using the gravure process or the flexo process, has almost the same requirements. There is no difference in unwinding and rewinding, tension control, drying and monitoring systems. For the same job, gravure printing and flexo printing require similar workload.
Flexographic printing and gravure printing have their own advantages. The advantages of flexographic printing include: suitable for short-run printing, or printing of products whose design content often changes. The advantages of gravure printing are: high printing resistance, very suitable for long plate printing, can be printed many times repeatedly; good consistency of printed images; can realize double-sided printing of roll materials; continuous printing, no joints; same as flexo products In comparison, the visual effects of gravure printing products are stronger and the quality is generally higher. The life of the gravure cylinder can reach up to 1 million meters, but the life of the flexographic resin plate is only 1/2 or even shorter. In addition, flexographic printing requires 2 to 3 percent longer downtime than gravure printing. From the perspective of environmental protection, there is not much difference between the two, especially now that gravure printing has basically achieved no benzene, and the development of alcohol-soluble inks and water-based inks is also accelerating.
Soft bag technology Mr. Liang:
The gravure printing speed is high, the overprint is accurate, and the printed products are exquisite. It currently occupies a dominant position in the flexible packaging market . Flexo printing is easy to operate and suitable for processing small batch orders. If both ink paintings are mature, it is difficult to say which printing method can occupy the mainstream. The key is to decide on the order of the company.
From the perspective of production equipment manufacturers, domestic leading enterprises such as Shaanxi Beiren, Songde and other traditional gravure equipment manufacturers have developed satellite flexographic printing presses, but at the same time, many companies are also developing plastic gravure ink printing presses; From the perspective of flexible packaging companies, everyone is still skeptical of gravure ink, but some companies are already actively trying.
No matter which printing method is used, it is actually sending a positive signal: safety and environmental protection. This is the progress of the industry and the ethics of each of our practitioners. Let us work together to build China's green packaging industry!
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To be edited:
Yuan Jiansui, General Manager of Zhuhai Ruilong Ink Co., Ltd .:
Ruilong has been committed to the research and development of gravure inks. Flexo inks are mainly used for printing on the surface of ordinary plastic shopping bags, while gravure inks can be used for printing and printing on the surface of plastic food packaging .
Ruilong ink products have been introduced to the market in 2000. At present, all products use environmentally-friendly and safe water-based raw materials. Ink transfer is excellent, color reproducibility is good, the printing speed can reach 200m / min or more per minute under the conditions that the machine meets the conditions of use, and the refreezing performance is superior. After freezing, it can be used after refreezing within 3 hours at room temperature And does not affect the printing effect; the use cost is low and the economic benefits are significant.
新型 Printing flexible packaging with a new type of environmentally friendly inkjet printing has certain requirements on printing machinery , shallow plates for printing plates, a certain length for drying equipment, and negative pressure effects.
The flexible packaging gravure ink uses water as the solvent, and it will not cause pollution and damage to the environment and the body of the operator during the production and use. Because the water is volatile, there is no hidden danger of fire.
Compared with the original solvent-based ink, the same printing volume can be used with only 60% of the solvent-based ink. The average price of each color ink for flexible packaging printing on the market is 25,000 yuan per ton, and each ton is used. The ink needs to be equipped with 1 ton of organic solvent as the diluent, and the price of xanthene solvent is 8,000 yuan. Taking 10 tons of ink per month as an example, the cost is 250,000 yuan of ink plus 80,000 yuan of solvent equal to 330,000 yuan. However, the average price of each color of our ink products is 40,000 yuan per ton, and because it is printed using light printing, the ink consumption is low. The same printing volume can be achieved by using 6 tons of ink products, that is, 240,000 yuan. The leap month can save 90,000 yuan in printing costs for printing manufacturers and reduce production costs by 27%.
Under the condition that the printing machine meets the conditions of using ink, the printing speed can reach 200 ~ 300m / min per minute.