Flexography, Offset Printing, and UV Inkjet Printing: The Differences

Estimated reading time: 3 mins

As technology advances, opportunities for label production and barcode printing have increased. Flexography, offset printing and UV inkjet printing are all excellent proven technologies for color printing. However, each of them has its advantages and disadvantages depending on the intended applications and your requirements. What is the best method for your project? Before making a decision, let’s review the basics.

Offset printing:

This method consists of using a charged electrostatic plate, the discharged zones accepting the ink. The latter is then transferred to a heated blanket and then to the support. This method is called “offset” printing because the image is not directly transferred to the material from the beginning.

What results is a thin layer of 812 dpi ink with a clean look? It is often found in the form of a band of color, the logo of a company or a graphic design. If this technology is distinguished by the liveliness of its colors, it fears by its poor resistance to chemicals and abrasion.

This is why it is often necessary to use a topcoat or a laminated film to overcome these problems. Color labels printed using offset printing can then continue their careers in water baths or be exposed to chemicals or very low temperatures without any problem.

This technique allows the simultaneous printing of four colors at a speed of up to 40 feet per minute. It is, therefore, the ideal solution for customers ordering large prints with variable data or small prints with a wide variety. This technology is also combined with the Vision system, which scans each barcode to check for errors during the entire process. Result: barcodes always perfect!


Unlike offset printing, flexography transfers ink directly to the substrate using flexible shots mounted on fast rotating cylinders. Flexography is a tested and approved technology. It remains one of the preferred techniques for printing quality color labels. FlexStor offers high-quality Flexo, Offset and Laminating sleeve storage system and sleeve storage accessories.

Because it uses a continuous stock of materials on large rolls, flexography enables fast flow rates. It is, therefore, an economical process for large print orders. It may be necessary to add a topcoat or laminate film if the finished product will be used in a harsh environment.

Indeed, this type of imaging technology can crack under the effect of very aggressive chemicals or extreme temperatures. This process for high-volume orders (hundreds of thousands of labels printed at a time) requires bright colors or printing the customer’s logo.

UV inkjet printing:

UV inkjet printing involves projecting thousands of drops of ink per second at precise intervals on the media using strategically placed nozzles. Once applied, the ink is cured by exposure to ultraviolet light.

This provides a durable result that is generally resistant to harsh chemical environments without the need for a topcoat or laminate film. One of the benefits of UV inkjet printing is the impressive throughput that can go up to 164 feet per minute. This is an effective method of handling color print orders.

In addition, customers requiring small runs with a wide variety of color labels have greater flexibility and economies of scale, as there are no color limits. Ideal for small print runs based on variable data, UV inkjet printing offers faster registration time and more consistent production than other printing processes.

This technology is recommended to customers who need a wide variety of small-print labels that require different colors, variable data, and crisp printing.

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