Home' FLEXO Magazine : July 2015 Contents recorded manually in process logs inside the quality control lab and at
Morrison: What are the most notable changes you’ve seen across the
flexo workflow? How has this impacted quality?
Parrish: With the advent of photopolymer plates, Apple’s Mac com-
puters, and modern presses with doctor blade units, ceramic coated
anilox rollers and computerized settings, a quantum leap occurred in
printing that revolutionized the flexo market. Photopolymer plates
moved from conventional imaging made from emulsion coated
negatives to laser imaged plates made in a concealed chamber, with
mounting devices that ruled out hand to eye coordination. With these
advancements, we saw flexo begin to rival rotogravure competitors.
Web detection devices, robotic job changes, automatic deck washers
and fully computerized presses saw press speeds double and then
triple. Job changes in less than 45 minutes became the norm. Right
before my eyes, I have seen perfect registration occur within two rev-
olutions of the impression drum. Densitometers, viscometers, gearless
presses, improved inks, ovens, plates washing devices—they have all
made printing a science as well as a trade.
It continues to amaze me when I think of what has taken place in the
past 40 years. Negatives have gone, magnesium engravings and rubber
plates have been replaced with laser imaged polymer and laser etched
elastomers. With the advent of expanded gamut separations, flat top
dots and HD imaging, we continue to see quantum leaps in print
clarity. It is now commonplace to see 133 and 150 line separations that
greatly enhance standard flexo printing.
Years ago, we moved from quality control to “quality assurance,”
which really meant we moved from a postprint inspection of materials
to a preprint preparation and assurance that all standards are in place.
By adopting the STAR approach—Stop, Think, Act, Review—at
Cyber Graphics, we saw big improvements in the quality of graphics
separations and plates from our plate room. STAR has become a
strong mantra for our company. Recording data and allowing teams of
people in each department to view it and improve processes address-
es quality first and not last. Pushing decision making to the people
doing the work and giving them the tools to improve quality is vital.
Rewarding outstanding work and charting visible improvements is a
motivator of our people.
Morrison: How have things changed working in the modern era, with
the adoption of standards and specifications?
Parrish: Establishing standards by eye has been gone for years in
both graphics and printing. Where we once relied on mixing dry ink
“dust” for matching Cromalins, we now see sophisticated spectropho-
tometers measure color in the booths of the image separator and the
printer. Standards are established based on a Delta E variance and not
by eye. All colors are given a very specific number that is measurable,
attainable and recordable. Color targets and tonal scales validate not
only separations and plates but also print settings and execution. The
industry as a whole is shifting from not just a skilled labor force but to
a labor force with more formal training and education. Computers in
all facets of the production stream require a workforce that under-
stands how they work and how they are used.
Current Role: Manufacturing Site Director at Cyber Graphics in
First Role: Press Helper at Bryce Corp. in Memphis, TN
Morrison: What was flexo like when you first came in to the industry?
What challenges did you face?
Edwin Woods: Our biggest struggles on press were with color match-
ing. We had viscosity meters but they weren’t very precise. If you had
a long pressrun with a line color that the customer held near and dear
to their heart, you could be in trouble.
The biggest challenge we faced at the time had a lot to do with train-
ing and development of the employees. Printing didn’t have a lot of
standards at the time. Johnny showed you how to do the job, and you
just did it like Johnny did. That created some good habits and some
bad habits; so good training has always been a factor.
28 FLEXO | JULY 2015
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