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What is a flexo cliché? Types of clichés

Flexography is a printing technique used for the mass production of products such as packaging, labels, newspapers and magazines. One of the most important elements in flexographic printing is the cliché. In this article, we are going to explore what a flexographic cliché is and why it is essential for producing high-quality prints. In the printing industry, the use of clichés is very common. A cliché is an object used to transfer a design or image to a substrate, and is manufactured from resistant materials such as metal or polymer

What is a cliché in flexography?

In simple terms, a flexography cliché is a printing plate used to transfer ink to the surface of the substrate (paper, plastic, etc.). The cliché is typically made of photopolymer or rubber and is essential for flexography printing. Clichés are used in different industries, from the printing of newspapers, magazines and advertising materials, to the manufacturing of electronic products, such as television screens and printed circuit boards. Their use lies in the ability to produce multiple copies of the same design, which makes them useful for mass production of products.

Types of clichés in flexography

There are two main types of clichés used in flexographic printing:

Photopolymer clichés

Photopolymer plates are the most common choice for flexographic printing due to their versatility. They are made by exposing a layer of photopolymer to UV light through imaging film. The exposed area hardens and becomes the area that prints the image. Photopolymer plates are durable and can print fine details and sharp lines.

Rubber cliches

Rubber clichés are less common in flexographic printing, but are still used in some applications. These clichés are generally softer than photopolymer plates and can be ideal for printing on substrates that are not flat or have irregular textures.

Why are clichés important in flexography?

Plates are essential for producing high-quality flexographic prints. When printing, ink is transferred from the cliché to the surface of the substrate. If the cliché is not of high quality, the resulting image on the substrate may be blurred or distorted. A high-quality cliché guarantees sharp and precise printing, which is especially important in the production of packaging and labels that must comply with strict standards and regulations. Clichés are used in different industries, from the printing of newspapers, magazines and advertising materials, to the manufacturing of electronic products, such as television screens and printed circuit boards. Their use lies in the ability to produce multiple copies of the same design, which makes them useful for mass production of products. Regarding the printing technique, there are several options depending on the type of printing you want to make. One of the most used techniques is screen printing, which consists of transferring ink to a substrate using a mesh cliché. On the other hand, flexographic printing is another popular technique that uses a flexible cliché to print designs on surfaces such as paper, cardboard and plastic. Clichés are an important tool in different industries. In electronics manufacturing, for example, they are used to print circuits on printed circuit boards and television screens. In printing, clichés are essential for producing multiple copies of the same design and are therefore very useful in the mass production of products.

How do you make a cliché in flexography?

The creation of a flexographic cliché is a complex process that involves several stages:

Preparation of the work of art

The artwork must be prepared for use in creating the cliché. This may involve color separation and creating digital files.

Creation of the cliché plate

The cliché plate is created by exposing a layer of photopolymer to a UV light through an imaging film. The exposed part of the photopolymer hardens, while the unexposed part remains soft.

Creation of the cliché

After exposure to UV light, the cliché plate is immersed in a water bath to remove the unexposed portion of the photopolymer and reveal the image printed on the cliché. The cliché is dried and cured in an oven before being mounted on the printing press.

How long do flexographic clichés last?

The life of a flexographic cliché varies depending on several factors, such as the quality of the cliché, the frequency of use, and the type of substrate it is being printed on. In general, photopolymer plates can last between 5,000 and 50,000 impressions, while rubber plates can last up to 10,000 impressions.

How are clichés taken care of in flexography?

To prolong the life of flexographic plates, it is important to properly care for them. Here are some tips for caring for clichés:

Proper storage

Clichés should be stored in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and harsh chemicals. If the clichés are not used for an extended period, they should be stored in their original packaging.

Regular cleaning

The clichés should be cleaned regularly with a mild cleaning solution and a soft brush. This will help maintain the quality of the printed image.

Regular repair and maintenance

Plates should be inspected regularly for signs of wear and damage. If any problem is found, it should be repaired immediately to avoid poor print quality.

Frequently asked questions about flexographic clichés

Are clichés reusable?

Yes, flexography clichés are reusable, but their useful life varies depending on several factors.

How is the type of cliché selected for printing?

The choice of the type of cliché will depend on the substrate on which it will be printed and the type of image that will be printed.

What happens if a cliché is damaged during production?

If a cliché is damaged during production, it should be repaired or replaced immediately to avoid poor print quality.

Conclusion

In conclusion, a flexographic cliché is an essential element in the production of high-quality prints. There are two main types of clichés used in flexographic printing: photopolymer clichés and rubber clichés. Plates must be properly cared for to prolong their useful life and maintain optimal print quality.
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