Comparison of Flexo and Inkjet Printing Methods for Labels

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Flexo Print v Digital Inkjet for Label Printing

With every label application comes a different set of specifications so there isn’t one simple answer as to whether digital inkjet print or flexo print is best. Indeed, for some businesses a mix of the two might work best.

Durability, cost effectiveness and flexibility will all be big considerations but volumes required will probably be key.

We will look at a comparison of the two production methods; advantages, disadvantages and pricing based on a 101.6mm x 76mm labels (4 inch x 3 inch)

CMYK Inkjet Printed Labels

Inkjet print is ideally suited to short runs which is generally considered to be runs of under 5000 labels. You can produce high quality finish labels with limited set up costs. Unlike Flexo print you do not need to manufacture any plates so it's simple to provide samples and allows for variable field data printing.

When coupled with a blade cutting finishing system you do not have the cutter costs either which could be anything from £50-£150 on a Flexo label. The downside is the durability. Inkjet printing uses water soluble inks so inkjet printed labels would not be suitable for applications such as shower gel bottle labels. You can increase the durability by adding an over laminate but this still is not a totally water proof solution. Dye inks are also susceptible to UV light so will fade quickly if left outside.

 Advantages of Digital Inkjet Label printing

 - High quality print finish

- Low set up costs

- Ideal for short runs

- Easy and cheap to produce sample prints

- Fast turnaround times

- Option to use variable field data


Disadvantages of Digital Inkjet Label Printing

 - Low resistance to liquids and UV light

- More expensive than Flexo for runs over 10,000

- Some colours are difficult to match to

- When using a static print head block colour prints can look banded


Inkjet Printed Label costs on a 101.6 x 76mm label

Example costs for a few of the most common inkjet materials with standard permanent material are:



 50  Labels

100 Labels

250 labels

500 Labels

1000 labels

Gloss Paper






Matt Paper






Gloss PP






Matt PP






Add over laminate







Flexo Printed Labels

Flexo print is ideal for runs over 10,000. Unless lead time is critical or there is variable data to consider it will always win out over digital inkjet for runs of this size and upwards.

 Advantages of Flexo printed labels

 - Produces a durable print

- Cheaper than inkjet on runs over 10,000

- Wider range of substrate materials

- Better colour matching than with inkjet printing


Disadvantages of Flexo printed labels

 - High initial set up costs - plates and cutters required.

- Usually lead times are in excess of 10 days

- You can't get a print sample without producing plates which could £200 for a 4 colour print

 Costs for a 101.6 x 76mm Flexo printed label

For a 4 colour printed label. Do note that cutter charges may not apply if a stock cutter is available in the required size.



5000 Labels

10000 Labels

20,000 labels

Gloss Paper




Gloss PP













For a single colour print, prices are considerably cheaper


5000 Labels

10000 Labels

20,000 labels

Gloss Paper




Gloss PP














If you'd like to discuss any label requirements please do not hesitate to call us on 01264 335118.

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