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Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

       Now, more and more variable information needs to be printed on drug packaging, which forces packaging enterprises to consider heat transfer printing.Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

        Flexographic printing is the most widely used printing method in pharmaceutical packaging. But now, heat transfer printing is gradually occupying the flexographic printing market with a rapid offensive.Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

       As more and more companies want to become global sellers, in order to meet the requirements of the European market, the product batch number and effective date must be printed on the product package, so the number of language types and common symbols printed on the package also increases.Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

      For flexographic printing, to print different information, you need to change the printing plate every time you print, which is very uneconomical.Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

       In order to reduce costs, some pharmaceutical enterprises began to use heat transfer printing.Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

       Heat transfer printing has the advantages of designable programming, the printing method is not constrained by the printing plate, and can directly call out variable information from the database. Therefore, once used, it quickly replaces flexographic printing.

      However, not all flexographic printing machine manufacturers and users have abandoned this ancient printing technology with a history of hundreds of years, because some new inks and plates can still make flexographic printing exude new attraction.

      Small flexographic press can provide customers with small batch production services to print fixed information on packaging.

      After collecting and analyzing the opinions of experts in the printing industry at home and abroad, modern printing magazine comes to the conclusion that flexographic printing and heat transfer printing are complementary cooperative relations.Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

■ competition between the two technologies

      According to the statistics of Flexographic Printing Technology Association, about 70% of the film processing industry worth 18 billion US dollars is printed by flexographic printing.Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

      Tolas health products packaging company is a supplier of pharmaceutical film packaging services. The company said that flexographic printing for drug packaging is very common.Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

      This method is very common, various operation forms and low price, so the company’s business is mainly flexographic printing. Another perfecseal company in Philadelphia has also been using flexographic printing. Mr. Ron Fortunato, manager of the company’s printing business department, said: “if it is printed on metal foil, film or DuPont’s Tyvek, flexographic printing is more suitable than thermal transfer.”

      Wazir nobbee, senior engineer of DuPont’s Tyvek department, added that the quality of flexographic printing on Tyvek is not only good, but also the printing speed is very fast.Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

      Usually, it can print 30-40 meters per minute. Nobbee believes that flexographic printing is more suitable than thermal transfer printing. He said: “for mass printing, this method is very economical. You can continuously print the whole volume of packaging materials.

      Not only the printing format is much wider, but also the speed is much faster. It is very suitable for printing fine stripes or marks. Other printing methods may need to go and stop, which is less efficient.”Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

      Flexographic printing is economical and fast, but when the printing content changes, it can not be compared with heat transfer printing.

      When the content or code needs to be replaced in the printing process, the printing plate must be replaced for flexographic printing, and sometimes a new printing plate needs to be made, and the plate making cost of each printing plate is about $500.Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

      However, when operators modify the text content or effective date, if the thermal transfer method is adopted, all they need to do is input the corresponding content on the keyboard and send it to the printer.Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

       Now, printing or packaging enterprises often encounter such a situation that they need to change the printing content in the printing process, because different markets require products to print bar codes, product batch numbers or effective dates, and also require a variety of words.Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

      For example, Medtronic needs to print a variety of words on the packaging of its cardiovascular drugs, and the annual cost on the printing plate is as high as 150000-200000 US dollars.Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

      Most pharmaceutical packaging enterprises believe that the main defect of flexographic printing technology is not speed, but filling and packaging when packaging household pharmaceutical products.Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

      Some experts said that the forming, filling and sealing machine generally works intermittently, so whether it has the ability of continuous high-speed operation is no longer the decisive factor in selecting printing technology, and the speed of heat transfer is not as slow as a snail.Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

      For example, bell Mark’s heat transfer system adopts an edge nozzle, which has an angle during printing, not vertical printing, so it can carry out high-speed operation on substrates of any shape.Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

      But some people think that the cost of heat transfer printing is too expensive. An industry source said, “flexographic printing is simpler and more cost-effective than heat transfer printing”.Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

■ new ways of cooperation

       The two technologies have their own advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, the best way is not to force flexographic printing out of the market, but to complement each other with heat transfer printing.Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

      The combination of the two systems can enable users to obtain the respective advantages of the two technologies – when printing standard information content, a low-cost and easy to operate flexographic system is adopted, and when printing variable information content, an easy to program heat transfer system is adopted.Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

       Graphic controls has been using a thermal printer installed on the filling and packaging machine to print variable information on polyethylene materials.Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

      But Noel gharibian, the company’s engineering manager in charge of Devon product production line, said that thermal printers cannot be programmed, so they can only print limited variable information, so they have to manually replace the metal letters on the printing brush. After using the heat transfer printer, the company can print information including part number, product description, quantity, batch number, service validity and so on, which are generated by computer programming.Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

       However, when printing standard information such as company name, contact information and company logo in multiple languages, the company still adopts online flexographic printing.Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

       Graphiccontrols’ new system consists of two heat transfer printheads mounted horizontally on the top of the flexographic press. In order to distinguish between variable information and fixed information, Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

       the color of variable information printed by heat transfer is black, while the color of constant information printed by flexographic printing is purple.Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

       The combination of the two printing methods is not effective for all companies. Tom Roberts of Medtronic said he wanted a programmable heat transfer press, just like bell Mark’s heat transfer press, in order to get rid of the ink and plate necessary for the flexographic press. Roberts said, “ink and printing plates are troublesome.Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

       Even if you don’t change the text content, you need to change the printing plates frequently because the printing plates are worn. In addition, when you use two different printing systems, you need to train different technicians to properly repair and maintain the printing machine.”

■ flexographic printing still has a market  Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

      Although there are some criticisms on flexographic printing, flexographic printing system still has its advantages. Pugh of bell Mark said flexographic printing helped their company solve the inventory problem of preprint packaging materials.Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

      It is the most economical method to install the roller flexographic printing single line on the filling and packaging machine.

      This method is most suitable for the situation that the information content changes infrequently.Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

      In addition, flexographic printing technology is constantly improving. In terms of printing plate, in the past, it was made by rubber die or laser engraving, but now it is made of photosensitive polymer. Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

       For example, the flexible printing plate made by DuPont Cyrel can well match the computer direct plate making technology (CTP), its low hardness characteristics are very suitable for printing Tyvek, and the printing plate can be well consistent with the printing medium.Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

       At the same time, To meet the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the requirement of reducing the use of volatile organic compounds, in some printing fields, especially the users of flexographic printing press, have begun to shift from solvent-based ink to water-based ink.Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

      However, the material manufacturer must produce a special formula of water-based ink to enable it to adhere to the substrate of drug packaging and ensure that it can withstand packaging disinfection and transportation Process. Marotta of tolas said that it is only after knowing exactly how the packaging is disinfected that it is possible to produce an ink with stable performance.Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

       For example, it must be able to withstand steam disinfection, but experts doubt whether there is such a universal ink that can withstand any disinfection method. Generally speaking, ink can be multifunctional, but no ink can meet various needs.Heat Transfer Printing Challenges Flexographic Printing

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