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how to print on plastic

How To Print on Plastic

Have you ever met people carrying customized printed materials like plastic bags? You must have wondered how the plastic bags were printed to achieve that stunning look.

Printing on plastic is a great tool to make business presentations and other art materials. All you need is to know how to print on plastic.

Let’s have a look at how you can print on plastic.

Printing on Plastic Methods

1. Flexographic printing

This method involves the use of a flexible relief plate. That’s where the name flexo originates. Flexo is a modern letterpress version that can print any substrate.

This can be plastic, paper, or cellophane. Through this method, you can print both images and words on vinyl. You will need to divide the plastic into the non-image and image areas.

To help with the process you will want to wrap the flexible printing plate around a rotating cylinder. The plate is also inked and, therefore, transfers words and images to the printing area of your plastic.

2. UV Litho printing

The UV Litho printing process involves the utilization of UV drying units. These units dry out the ink on the surface of flexible substrates.

This method of printing provides multiple benefits that help you achieve high-definition images.

These images can be in a variety of colors. However, the initial setup process is time-consuming and quite costly as well.

Since these run-ons are a bit fast, it is affordable compared to production runs that take longer.

3. Pad printing

If you are looking for the most simple process to print plastic, then this is what you need.

All you need is to engrave the image you would like to print on a silicone plate. It will then be flooded with ink and then wiped. Ink is left only in the etched area.

This method of printing is incredible, especially for 2-D images printed directly on 3-D objects. Your choices are from bottles, rulers, promotional golf balls, and others.

The most economical printing in this method is a single color pad printing print. It is not limited to a single color because you can print multiple colors, too.

4. Laser printing

This is an electrostatic method of digital printing. With this process, you can achieve top-notch quality graphics and texts.

What you do is pass the laser beam back and forth repeatedly on a cylinder that has been negatively charged.

A standard office laser printer is suitable to use when you want to print on plastic. Just make sure that the materials you are printing are compatible. Otherwise, you run the risk of the fuser unit in the printer getting extremely hot and melting the plastic sheets.

5. Hot stamping

The hot stamping method is a great way to print finished plastic bags. You can pass the bags on a hot stamp machine. This is done one bag at a time and you will achieve perfect results.

This method is suitable for a few plastic bags. If you don’t have ink, then a foil can be substituted to work in its place. With this method, you are limited to using only two colors to print.

Ensure that there is adequate spacing so that there will be easy movement when you are ready to print the next color.

6. Digital Ink-Jet Printing

Nowadays, you have the option to print a digital image or written text on plastic. You can achieve this by using a printer, a printer driver, paper, or a spot of liquid ink.

Digital printing is a professional form of printing. This area allows you to print small-run jobs from digital sources using a large format. This printing method needs minimal setup.

This printing process is suitable for short production runs. That means long production runs won’t be cost-effective in the digital inkjet printing arena.

7.  Screen printing

Screen printing is a traditional method of printing and is suitable for specific applications. In this method, blocked stencils are used on a soft silk mesh.

With the soft silk mesh, you squeegee ink so that you can transfer the design of the stencil to the substrate. The next step is to use UV light to dry the ink. This process gives you a durable print with bold colors.

Printing on Plastic

It would help to become familiarized with various aspects when it comes to printing on plastic. Here are some of them.

1. Printing Plates

We use printing plates to customize the plastic materials you are printing. If taken good care of, they can last a long time.

Sizes depend on the size of the materials that you want to print.

2. Random Printing

Random printing helps the letters or images appear many times on the material you are printing.

3. Registered Printing

You need this if you would like the same position of the image printed on multiple items. You must use the same plate size to achieve and repeat the image and similar material.

You can easily print on plastic if you choose the right method. Doing it yourself is great when you have knowledge of what to do.

Use the right printing method that is suited to the materials you have chosen. This will result in a stock of uniform branding products.

James M. Rai has been screen printing T-shirts and other textiles professionally and as a hobby for more than 15 years. During that time, he owned and operated a small screen printing shop in northern California for more than 7 years. More recently, James has gotten involved with Cricut and other cutting machines.