Pouches: Digital vs. Gravure Printing

Pouches: Digital vs. Gravure Printing

Pouch packaging presents unique opportunities for sustainable printing methods, particularly in the choice between digital and gravure printing techniques. Each method has its own advantages and sustainability considerations.

Digital Printing:

Digital printing offers remarkable flexibility and versatility. It allows for shorter print runs and customization without the need for printing plates. This on-demand printing process minimizes waste by producing only what is needed, reducing excess inventory and conserving resources. Despite its higher cost compared to traditional methods, digital printing stands out for its ability to cater to personalized and small-batch orders efficiently.

Gravure Printing:

Gravure printing, a traditional method that uses engraved cylinders, is renowned for its high-quality results and efficiency in large-scale production. While it may lack the flexibility of digital printing, gravure printing can still offer sustainability benefits, especially when optimized for long print runs. This method allows for various finishing options, including glossy, matte, soft-touch, and UV coatings, each carrying its own environmental considerations.

Engraved cylinders in gravure printing are sustainable because they can be cleaned and re-engraved multiple times, preventing waste. These cylinders, typically made of steel or copper, are crucial in transferring ink onto the substrate. For each print job, the number of cylinders used depends on the complexity and color requirements of the design. In rotogravure printing, multiple cylinders are employed, each representing a different color or part of the image being printed.

Moreover, retaining engraved cylinders for a period in case of reorders eliminates the need for additional cylinder fees on repeat orders. This practice not only reduces costs but also supports sustainability by minimizing material use.

Choosing the Right Method

The choice between digital and gravure printing for pouch packaging ultimately depends on the specific needs of the print job. Digital printing excels in flexibility and waste reduction for smaller, customized orders. It is easily customizable, meaning if you need barcode printing or unique identifiers, digital print is essential since gravure printing, which uses engraved cylinders, cannot offer this level of customization. Matching colors is also a bit harder with digital compared to gravure. Digital printing is done with multiple small ink dots, which makes it harder to achieve a perfectly matched and smooth color, but not impossible. Print quality wise, both are equally good in definition and in complex jobs that involve a lot of colors and layers of colors.

Digital printing is still not economically viable for large print runs and is slower in production compared to gravure, hence for big runs, gravure is the best option. Both methods can be optimized for sustainability, making them valuable options in the pursuit of eco-friendly packaging solutions. Sometimes, the best method is a combination of both, and we do have both capabilities. Digital printing is still novel compared to traditional methods and is still in development, but today, it is much more economical than it was five years ago due to advances in the machinery. 



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