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Flexographic vs. Spot Printing

One of the many services we offer here at Great American Packaging, is custom flexographic printing. This allows for artwork and graphics to be applied directly onto extruded film.
There are several different methods for printing, here’s a look at two methods.
Flexographic printing
With this method, colors are applied in stages. Each stage has a series of cylinders, rollers, a doctor blade, and an ink tray. One color can be added in each stage, and the total number of colors depends on how many stages a particular printing machine has. Great American Packaging uses this type of printing, which is done using one of our two printing presses. One machine can print up to four colors, while the other can print up to six. These colors are chosen using the Pantone Color Matching System (PMS), which consists of thousands of solid color swatches. These swatches are similar to the ones you would pick out at a hardware store. The individual colors are chosen by number, and set in the printing press.
Spot printing
Spot printing consists of tiny dots of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black ink that can be combined to create any color. With this type of printing, the four colors used can overlap to create complex, multicolored images. These images can look realistic because most of the spectrum of colors can be reproduced by using these four process ink colors. To create a new color, the percentages that are needed of each of the four base colors are determined, and translated into dots that make up the image.
The primary difference between these two methods is in the possibility of colors. With Flexographic printing, the colors that are established on a flexographic printing press are the only colors that will appear in the artwork. These colors cannot overlap in order to create additional colors. Spot printing does have the capability to layer the colors to produce more options. Below are examples of these two types of printing. The image on the left is flexographic, and has four colors that remain solid. The image on the right is spot, and contains colors that have been overlapped and mixed together.

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