Understanding labels and printing could be confusing, so to help, we put together some items that we hope will help you understand core concepts and advanced features. If you still need some help, please feel free to reach out to us firstname.lastname@example.org
In screen printing, a rubber blade forces the ink through a pattern in a fine mesh cloth, and on to the paper. In earlier days this technique was called silk-screen print because the mesh was made of silk. This is also why it is called serigraphy. ‘Seri’ is the latin word for silk, and ‘graphy’ originates from the Greek word ‘graphein’ – to write or draw. Today the mesh is often made of polyester.
Do you want your labels to have a touch of luxury? Well, then we stamp them with foil. Mainly gold or silver, but there is an almost endless choice of metallic colors and variations. For instance, holographic foil is often used for copy protection. The word ‘hot/cold foil’ describes the method where we either heat the foil (hot foil) or use adhesive (cold foil) to stamp it on the substrate. Foil stamping is used as an addition to ordinary printing, and gives the label décor a much better metallic look than any other technique.
Well, embossing is when you create a raised relief pattern in the substrate. This is often made by pressing the substrate between two plates where one of the plates have a protruding pattern (the male) and the other has a corresponding pattern inwards (the female). Then you get a protruding pattern in the substrate. As you probably already have guessed – debossing gives the opposite effect. You simply switch the plates places and get an inwards pattern. Some labels have both embossing and debossing.
In simplified terms, digital printing machines are enlargements of office printers. An advantage of digital printing of labels is its fast turnaround of short runs. With a conventional printing press, you would have to obtain and change printing plates, wash the printing units and adjust several additional factors before being able to print the next job. With a digital printer you do not need to worry about much more than a mere change of material. Many customers use the opportunity to print labels with variable data, where every label can be unique. A widely used version of this is serial numbering, but you can merge text and images as well. The campaign “share a Coke” by Coca-Cola is a good example.
Flexography, commonly known as ‘flexo’, is a solution for printing larger volumes. This technique makes high-speed printing possible. The color is transferred to the paper using printing plates (see further down for an explanation). In many ways, flexo can be seen as a new version of the letterpress technology, and it has developed significantly since the beginning of the 1990s. Print quality is now at a level with offset, which has been considered to give the best result in printing.