flexographic vs digital inkjet printing

Flexographic vs digital inkjet printing

In this article, we will briefly discuss the differences between the flexographic and digital inkjet printing methods. We will describe the main advantages and disadvantages of both methods, so you can understand which printing type is right for your business. Please keep in mind that Gulmen Digital specializes in the production of labels and stickers. Therefore, we consider all the differences in the flexographic and digital inkjet printing for label production.

Flexographic printing

Flexography (flexographic printing) requires the use of polymer plates with a convex image. The protruding parts of the plate (printing elements) are coated with ink. When the plate is pressed against the material, the ink passes from the plate to the material. Each color requires a separate plate (printing plate), which creates the final image when printed in sequence.

Digital Inkjet Printing

Inkjet printing is a technology for directly applying ink to a printable surface without the use of permanent printing plates. This method can also be characterized as non-contact, as the inkjet printing technology is based on atomization of liquid ink from nozzles incorporated into the print heads.
Our company develops and produces digital inkjet presses. We use the newest pigment-based printing system.

The quantity of printing

Flexographic printing is ideal for large runs. If a company or business needs to print a million or more labels per month and the demand will continue over time.

Inkjet printing used to be ideal for medium to small runs (no minimum order quantity), various experimental options, conceptual layouts and marketing. Our inkjet printing machines can also be used for relatively large runs of up to a million labels.

Convenient and fast preparation for printing

Flexographic printing requires printing plates for each label. Flexographic printing is usually suitable for labels that don’t change frequently.

With inkjet printers, printing plates are not required, reducing preparation costs and making it easy to change and update label designs as often as necessary. The time required to change label designs is minimized.

Variable data and customization

Flexographic printing, by its very nature, allows only static images to be printed where all labels are the same. However, limited variety can be achieved by stacking variations of the same label on the plate for repetition throughout the run. For example, using 10 different recipes for the same product label.

Digital inkjet technology allows you to create personalized label products; ideal for limited editions, event marketing and personalized targeting. There are two basic forms:
1. Incorporating variable components into the label design, such as images, numbers, text and barcodes.
2. Specialized software that allows you to create thousands or even millions of individual designs on which no two labels are the same.

Application safety

Flexographic label printers predominantly use UV-curable inks. UV-curing flexo inks are based on acrylic or epoxy compounds. The specific characteristics of acrylates make them suitable for materials with good absorbency. Polyacrylates have a slight, peculiar smell. Unfortunately UV inks may contain toxic compounds and care must be taken when selecting where such labels may be used.

Digital inkjet printing has minimal impact on the environment. The machines produced by our company use water based printing method. Water based printing can make direct contact with food as it is not toxic. There are no restrictions on where labels with water-based inks can be used.

Label colors

Flexographic printing uses a combination of raster and triad colors using UV inks. PMS (Pantone Matching System) bitmap colors are typically used for marketing elements and color-coded product variants. Triad colors are usually used to create images. Up to 11 colors, including metallics, can be applied in one pass.

Inkjet printers use CMYK plus white to create colors and images. Our presses can add orange, green and purple to expand the color gamut normally achievable with traditional CMYK printing, covering up to 99% of the Pantone range. It’s also possible to print on white, and we have the option of using “fade color” inks to match brand colors exactly. The inks used in Gulmen Digital are translucent. This provides bright, vibrant colors and excellent color reproduction.

Materials for label printing

Flexographic printing uses all kinds of materials; thermal paper and films, glossy paper, transparent and white films, metallized paper and film, and more.

Inkjet label printing machines can print on almost any material. One of the main advantages of our machine is the ability to print on 450 gsm paper density, which is comparable with cardboard.

Time of label printing production

Flexographic printing requires the production of forms. The turnaround time depends on the complexity of the design and the number of colors on the design. The turnaround time can start from 10 working days.

Digital inkjet printers are ready for printing at any moment.
If the customer has a label design ready, it may take the time it takes to print the entire print run. The time can be as short as one day, with the customer ordering in the evening and receiving the full run of labels in the evening. But do not forget that quality labels may require lamination depending on the product and storage.


The advantages of digital inkjet printing are obvious. Modern label market trends are primarily focused on speed, flexibility and cost of production. If you need an average amount of labels, OKI PRO 1050 is one of the best options. If you are already a successful owner of this great printer, we offer OKI PRO 1050 toner cartridges always the most favourable conditions for our regular customers.
And our new premium Quantum models can easily compete with flexographic machines.

Have a nice day!