Gravure printing or rotogravure printing as it is commonly known is one of the most popular forms of print for packaging.
Although not really a household name, gravure printing is one of the most widely used print techniques for high volume printing. Gift wrapping, magazines, wallpaper and packaging are all created using rotogravure printing.
What is gravure printing?
Gravure printing or rotogravure is an intaglio printing process that uses rotary printing capable of producing continuous tone images.
Large copper plated steel cylinders are engraved with the chosen design using a laser or diamond tipped stylus. The engravings are referred to as ‘cells’ and are etched in differing depths, with deeper cells providing more intense the colour.
A different cylinder is required for every colour used. The cylinders are then submerged partially in the ink fountain that on rotation fills the recessed cells. A blade wipes excess ink from the surface of the cylinder before the ink is transferred from the cells onto the printing material.
For even coverage, the printing material is fed between the impression cylinder and gravure cylinder. The material is effectively sandwiched with force to push the ink out of the cells to give the best finish. The print material is then dried before proceeding to the next colour cylinder.
Advantages of gravure printing
- Gravure printing is the only high speed and volume print process capable of printing continuous tone images
- As a direct print process gravure printing results in better ink laydown and more consistent print quality
- Printing times are extremely quick, with modern presses able to produce up to 14m of film per second.
- Gravure printing uses quick drying solvent based inks to help speed up the print process
- As the process is almost entirely automated the labour costs are relatively low
- Gravure cylinders are extremely durable, can be used for several print runs, as long as they are used regularly and can be maintained.
Disadvantages of gravure printing
- Origination costs (the initial cylinder set up costs) can be very high due to such long-term use as the cylinders last for millions of impressions
- Gravure printing is not as competitive on price than other printing methods, especially for shorter print runs from European suppliers.
What’s best for your business?
Gravure printing is widely regarded as the best print process for flexible packaging formats such as stand up pouches and quad seal bags and flat bottom bags, due to the fantastic and consistent print quality.
It is a decision for your business to decide whether investing in quality is worthwhile. In the wise words of Sir Henry Royce, “Quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten “– here at Law Print we couldn’t agree more.
Are you looking at investing in quality printing for your product? Contact our team of packaging experts, they will be happy to help.
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