Why We Need To Know The Difference Between Digital Printing And Gravure Printing

Packaging has always been the face of any product. A beautiful face is always unforgettable and the same goes for product packaging. The success of one’s brand relies on having exquisite packaging and stable packaging suppliers. Who shows their concern for their clients and aims to provide them with unique packaging ideas and marketing strategies.

In the industry of flexible packaging, there are two most widely used printing technologies namely digital printing and gravure printing, but as a brand owner, How does it benefit me to know the difference between them?

If you have printing requirements for different quantities or different SKUs in a job. You can choose the right printing solution according to your specific requirements. To get the most economical packaging costs.

So what kind of printing technologies should you use? Find out more by learning the following aspects.

1. Definition of digital printing and gravure printing

2. Advantages of digital and gravure printing

3. Which one should be right for my request

Definition of digital printing and gravure printing

What is gravure printing?

The principle of gravure printing is that the graphic is etched onto the surface of the metal cylinder plates with acids. The cylinder plate consists of tiny cells of different depths and widths that contain ink. When the printing press is running, the doctor’s blade scrapes off the excess ink on the surface of the printing plate and leaves only the ink in the cells.

When our printing film is in contact with the printing plate. The ink will be transferred to the printing film to formed the fonts and patterns of your packaging design.

What is digital printing?

Digital printing does not need to engrave patterns on cylindrical plates like the gravure technology. But what it uses is a digital technology for laser printing or other large-scale printers to use inkjet powder or liquid ink. To directly print digital images to various mediums like paper or plastic film.

Advantages of digital and gravure printing

The advantages of gravure printing?

Cost-efficient for mass production

Your brand’s market share and popularity increase rapidly, you must consider saving your costs to gain more market share. For example, if the packaging itself occupies your cost then you need to find a solution to reduce packaging cost.

If that is the case then the gravure printing is for you. We calculated that if you meet the minimum order quantity for gravure printing, the packaging costs are only 1 / 10 of those for digital printing. It’s unbelievable, isn’t it? Tho we may need to pay extra for the plate making. But if we repeat our order more than 6 times while not changing the design and re-making a new plate. The printing plate cover for the packaging cost is negligible.

Special printing finished available

In the face of increasingly fierce brand competition. We always think about packaging differentiation to stand out from the crowd. When you have a variety of unique ideas like glossy finish appearing in the matte printing. This allows special signs or patterns to be displayed on the shelf. Doing this can quickly grab the attention of your consumers.

Using matte printing with high-definition transparent windows. Allows the consumers to see what is clearly inside of the packaging. In the gravure printing machine, we separate a cylinder plate and matte ink to realize the idea.

Gravure printing can be customized in large sizes

More brands are willing to use large-format flexible packaging to increase brand value. The gravure printing machine can perfectly achieve this. Our gravure printing machine can be installed with the length of the cylinder up to 130cm. It can adapt to accommodate the largest size of the bag for packing 20 kg of pet food. This is the biggest difference in digital printing, which is limited by the film length to 76 cm

The panton colors

Brand color is very important to any industry. For example, the representative orange of Hermes, the brown of Luis Vuitton, and even the familiar tiffany blue for the tiffany brand. These colors help them gain more brand recognition why? Well according to market research, correct and uniform colors can trigger consumers to remember mental images and memories. This can increase brand awareness by up to 87%.

We call this unique color “spot color” and then use the “panton” color number to define it. So how do we use this accurately to make it work in your product packaging? We normally engrave the color of the artwork in each cylinder plate and install it in the ink tank of the printing process. Our engineers deploy the color of the ink according to the color number of the panton.

In this way, it can be accurately printed on your product packaging. On a side note, digital printing cannot achieve this much accuracy when it comes to panton colors.

The advantages of digital printing

Having said so many advantages of gravure printing, how about digital printing? Keep on reading to find out the advantages of digital printing.

No setup or plate cost

The difference with digital printing is that it doesn’t need cylinder plates saving you the cost for the plate fee. In gravure printing any changes made means re-creating the cylinder plates. That requires additional fees for the plate. But for digital printing, it only means that we are re-creating a design on the digital printer.

Also, digital printing is more sustainable and environmentally friendly when it comes to the entire life cycle of the packaging. Creating the plates for this requires acid etching to engrave the graphics on the plate properly. Using this process can consume a lot of energy and water. therefore generating a lot of water and greenhouse gasses that potentially harm the environment.

If we avoid plate making, I believe it will be more conducive to packaging in contributing to environmental sustainability objectives.


No plates needed means that there is no need to spend a lot of time installing cylinder plates and debugging inks like gravure printing. This is why the gravure printing request has a high MOQ. Our MOQs at Xiaoyu are usually 10000pcs for each SKU. Because if not it will not increase the profitability of the flexible packaging company.

For digital printing machines that need to transfer digital images in the printing machine through the packaging. Low quantity requirements are acceptable for digital printing. This works well for small and medium-sized enterprises and entrepreneurial companies. If you are a start-up and want to develop a new flavor to challenge the market.

But cannot afford the cost of the first order or if you need SKUs but do not want to risk the heavy operating costs required for large inventories. Then digital printing is the perfect solution for you

More flexibility and faster turn-around

When you need to promote a new product to the market or your inventory is about to enter the out-of-stock stage what should you do? Well in digital printing because of the omission of the plate-making process. It offers flexibility to make short runs and fast delivery.

Digital printing allows us to change our graphics at any time without having to remake the plate. It also can be ready to ship in 10 to 15 days making it enter the market faster.

Which one should be the right one for me?

Many people wonder and are concerned about the nature of packaging. How should I choose the printing method to make my design print vivid and clear? As a traditional printing technology, the so-called “traditional” means that it has been verified by the market for its quality, which has long been popular.

With the continuous innovation of digital printing technology in flexible packaging. It has taken gravure printing as an example to catch up with its quality. Now, with the continued popularity of this technology. It is recognized by consumers and other brands in producing bright, vibrant, and accurate graphics.

Both gravure and digital printing are useful methods of printing. But in choosing the printing method. We must evaluate it according to the needs of the project we are working on or will currently work on. If you need a larger number of running projects to get a cheaper unit price, gravure printing is for you. If you need to lunch a new product to test the market, or you have many SKUs to avoid waste inventory. Then digital printing is a great choice for your brand.

If you have any questions or are looking for eco-friendly and innovative packaging solutions for your products. To make you stand out on the shelf than your competitors? Then feel free to message us. Here at Xiaoyu, it is our goal to provide you with the best packaging solution just message us via email or inquiry and we will be happy to get back to you.


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