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Flexography 101: The Basics of the Flexographic Printing Process

If you work in the printing sector, you’ve likely heard the word “flexography” but don’t yet have any context for it. If so, you may have asked yourself: What is flexography used for?

Flexography is a modern high-speed printing process suitable for most packaging and label applications. It allows for fast, cost-efficient, high-quality label printing for a variety of mass-produced goods. This blog post will serve as a crash Flexography 101 course for printing and labeling stakeholders who want to know more about the process.

How Does Flexography Work?

In flexographic printing, the starting material comes in the form of a roll, which passes through a series of rotary flexible relief plates. A specialized roller feeds each flexible plate with ink, with a single flexible plate required for each individual printed color. The relief plates work in tandem to provide all colors for the final print product.

In cases where additional processes are required – such as laminating, embossing or die-cutting – they can be integrated along with printing in a single pass, greatly increasing production speed and capabilities over more traditional printing methods.

Flexographic printing also allows for printing on various substrates, including:

  • Paper
  • Plastic film
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Non-woven fabric
  • Metallic surfaces
  • Multilayered film composites

This material flexibility has led to increased use of it for a broad range of products, such as:

  • Self-adhesive labels
  • Cut & stack labels
  • Food packaging
  • Plastic bags

To that regard, purpose-built flexographic label printing machines have been developed, offering efficiency and speed advantages over many other label printing methods. Flexographic label presses can print label rolls of various materials quickly without sacrificing quality, making it the ideal printing method for food, beverage, and consumer products.

Flexography vs. Offset Printing

Even though flexographic and offset printing methods widely overlap in terms of meeting printing needs, there are some key differences that set them apart:

  • Flexography uses rotary flexible plates to directly print on the substrate, rather than printing indirectly through a series of offset plates, as is the case in offset printing.
  • As opposed to the secondary die-cutting, folding, or laminating processes used by offset printing, flexographic printing integrates these processes into a single pass operation.
  • Absorbent, non-absorbent, porous, and non-porous materials can be printed using flexography, whereas offset printing only works with smooth and flat surfaces.

The technological advancements in modern flexography have made it the method of choice for many applications, due to the advantages it offers for both clients and manufacturers alike, such as:

  • A dedicated flexible plate for every color means flexography offers extremely high color accuracy.
  • The ability to combine printing with almost any additional process into a single pass operation allows flexography to provide significant economies of scale.
  • Flexographic printing offers fast printing speeds, operating at up to 750m/2,000 ft. per minute.
  • Flexography is able to reliably print on a variety of substrates.
  • A variety of inks can be used in flexographic printing, such as solvent-based, water-based, or UV curable inks, adding to the method’s flexibility.

UV Flexography

UV flexography uses inks that are curable with ultraviolet light rather than the standard drying methods used for water- or solvent-based inks. UV curable inks can be dried faster than their counterparts, reducing production time.

UV curable ink offers a range of benefits, such as::

  • Faster drying
  • Volatile organic compound (VOC) free
  • Superior print quality for many applications
  • Only dry when exposed to UV, so the printer can be left print-ready
  • Easy to use

Flexographic Label Printing Services from Star Label Products

Flexography combines printing and other processes into a single pass, producing vibrantly printed products in a fast and efficient manner. Flexographic printing has become the printing method of choice for companies in demanding sectors such as food and beverage, cosmetics, and consumer packaged goods industries.

Star Label Products specializes in flexography, using modern, state-of-the-art flexographic printers operated by experienced technicians. Contact us to discover how Star Label Products can support your label printing needs.

The New Prop 65 Warning Label Size Requirements

Prop 65 Warning Label Requirements for California

What is a Prop 65 warning label, and what’s the deal with the new Prop 65 warning label size requirements? In short, it’s the state of California protecting its residents from drinking water that may contain hazardous chemicals.

The State, through the authority of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), publishes a list of chemicals associated with the cause of cancer, birth defects, and related reproductive trauma. This list is updated at least once every year. The current version of the list that was originally published in 1986 contains over 900 chemicals.

Proposition 65, otherwise known as the Safe Drinking and Toxic Enforcement Act, mandates that businesses with 10 or more employees must provide a “clear and responsible” warning label for all products that Californians purchase, in their homes or workplaces, or that are released into the environment. This also prohibits businesses in California from disposing of these listed chemicals into local water sources.

Businesses must also cease the utilization of listed chemicals in those same sources of drinking water. That mandate is enforced 20 months after each listing.

The following examines the various requirements for these labels and how affected businesses can remain compliant.

Prop 65- The 2018 Amendment

Prop 65 was officially written into law in November 1986, when voters in California approved it by a 63-37% margin. The current revised version of Prop 65 has gone into effect as of August 2018.

The newly amended Prop 65 mandates specific warning methods and content for several types of products.  This includes food items, diet supplements, alcohol, and furniture. It also provides for specific types of exposures, such as eateries, dentist offices, wood dust, diesel engines, interior parking structures, amusement parks, gas stations, and hotels.

There are exemptions:

  • Government organizations,
  • public water utilities, and
  • businesses with fewer than 10 employees do not fall under the mandate of Prop 65 warning labels for 2018.

Exposures that pose a zero cancer risk, that contain listed chemicals that naturally occur in edible items, and cause no reproductive effect, as well as discharges that do not provide a “significant amount” of a listed chemical, are also exempt.

Prop 65 Warning Label Size Requirements

New requirements include a warning label to be on any consumer product.  Prop 65 warning label size requirements are as follows:

  • Letters and characters have to be rendered in a minimum 6-point type. It cannot be any smaller than the largest font size utilized in other consumer products.
  • The warning must feature an exclamation point in black outlined by a yellow triangle, and the word “WARNING” must also be featured and printed boldly in capital letters.
  • The warning has to feature the full name of a listed chemical a minimum of one time.
Prop 65 Warning Label Size Requirements

A new standard for Proposition 65 warning labels

If the warning is included on a product, a short-form warning is allowed and does not need to feature the name of the listed chemical, however, the other requirements must be met.

Prop 65 Warning Label Size Requirements

Short-form Proposition 65 warning label

Any qualifying consumer product made available over the internet has to feature a warning on the associated website that informs the buyer before the purchase. These products should also feature a short-form warning on the product or a long-form warning on the label that adheres to the requirements.

If any of these product labels or packaging provides consumer information in a non-English language, the Prop 65-compliant warning has to be provided in that language, as well as in English.

Stay Compliant

Though the number of regulations laid out in this proposition, new and old, may seem daunting.  Your business can easily satisfy the warning label mandates of Prop 65 with the right printing partner.

Star Label Products provides affordable and compliant solutions to all of your Prop 65 warning label needs.

Contact us to learn more about Prop 65 warning label size requirements or to request a quote on label printing!