Here at Sinoway Pouch Station, we use a printing process called Rotogravure (roh-tuh-gruh-vyoo r) printing. This technique is what helps us get the look you want for your product. Allow us to show you how it works and walk you through the Rotogravure printing process.
Rotogravure Printing Process
What is Rotogravure printing?
Rotogravure is a type of intaglio printing process, which involves engraving the image onto an image carrier. Intaglio is the technique in which an image is incised into a surface and the ink sits in the engraved area before being pressed onto the material being printed upon. In gravure printing, the image is engraved onto a cylinder because it uses a rotary printing press.
In the direct Rotogravure printing process, the ink is applied directly to the cylinder and from there it is transferred to the material.
One unit consists of the following components:
an engraved cylinder (also known as "gravure cylinder") whose circumference can differ according to the layout of the product being made.
an ink fountain
a doctor blade assembly (removes ink from the non-engraved section of the cylinder)
an impression roller
For the indirect Rotogravure printing process, the engraved cylinder transfers ink in the desired areas to a transfer roller, and the transfer roller transfers it to the material.
While the press is in operation, the engraved cylinder is partially dipped in the ink tray, filling the engraved sections. As the cylinder rotates, it draws excess ink onto its surface and into the sections. The doctor blade then scrapes the cylinder before it makes contact with the paper, removing the excess ink from the non-incised areas and leaving the right amount of ink required in the engravings.
Next, the material gets sandwiched between the impression roller and the gravure cylinder. This is where the ink gets transferred from the engravings to the material. The purpose of the impression roller is to apply pressure, ensuring that the entire material is brought into contact with the gravure cylinder so there is even and maximum coverage of the ink. Once in contact with the product, the ink's surface tension pulls some of the ink out of the incisions and transfers it to the material.
Then the newly inked product goes through a dryer to be completely dried before going through the next color unit and accepting another coat of ink.
A rotogravure printing press has one printing unit for each color (typically CMYK) but the number of units varies depending on what colors are required to produce the final image.
The Rotogravure printing process is the most popular printing process used in flexible-packaging manufacturing. It has the ability to print on thin film such as polyester, OPP, nylon, and PE, which come in a wide range of thicknesses.
Other appreciated features include:
printing cylinders that can last through large-volume runs without the image degrading
good quality image reproduction
low per-unit costs running high volume production
Shortcomings of the gravure printing process include:
high start-up costs: hundreds of thousands of copies needed to make it profitable
rasterized lines and texts
long lead time for cylinder preparation, which is offsite as the techniques used are so specialized
Do you have any questions about how the Rotogravure printing process works? Contact us today.
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