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Digital Printing Vs. Flexo Printing: Weighing What’s Right for Your Packaging Project

November 18, 2021

Sustainable, embellished, smart, and tactile; innovation has driven the label business to explode over the last few years.  Brand owners have a plethora of label options to choose from, but it’s important to start by selecting the printing process since it impacts the entire project. In the great debate between flexographic or digital printing, these are the factors to examine to determine which press is best.

Is the Label Info Subject to Change?

If your product is a highly regulated such as CBD, Cannabis or a Pharmaceutical drug, the information on the label may change frequently. If that’s the case, go digital so you don’t need to incur plate charges any time you need an update.

Specialty Labels

Although digital printing continues to add new capabilities every year, if your packaging has any special features or effects, flexo is the way to go.  In general, this method supports a wider variety of print techniques and can produce more elaborate designs.


It’s common knowledge that larger quantities mean lower unit costs.  That works for bigger companies who have the storage space and can take advantage of discounted costs.  If larger lots aren’t an option, a short run on a digital press should fit the bill while your brand grows.

Up Close and Personal

Nowadays, variable package printing is becoming a larger part of the marketing mix.  Brand’s like Coca Cola and Bud Light received millions of media impressions for their promotions that featured digitally printed packaging using HP Mosaic software, which generates thousands of unique graphics from just one label design. In other applications, variable data can  help protect a brand against counterfeiting or to authenticate promotional purchases.

Material Matters

One of the benefits of flexographic printing is the variety of substrates one can use.  Plastic films, foils, sustainables, textiles, fabrics, paper, parchment, and more are all suitable.  While material options for digital printing are growing, they are not as plentiful as with flexo.

Everything Counts in Large Amounts

Depending on label size, quantities of up to 5,000 are probably most cost-effective when run on a digital press. Anything more than that, flexographic printing is the better option because it can produce more labels at a quicker speed.  Flexo is also better if you know the job will repeat without changes.

Capable Converter

The best way to choose the right printing method for your job is to actually consult with a  printer who has expertise in both flexographic and digital printing. Our companies have been in business for decades and won numerous awards for both their flexographic and digital printing.  Not only are we uniquely qualified to recommend the right printing method, but will value-engineer the entire project to find the most economical way to produce it without sacrificing the quality and look of the final product.

 Click here to receive a free sample kit, which contains a wide variety of award-winning labels featuring many different finishes, laminations, and effects. 

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