Home' FLEXO Magazine : August 2016 Contents to either add more colors, another web or additional effects, such as
foils and screens.
Inline inspection in this segment is at the leading edge of quality
control for progressive, top of the class printers. Press manufacturers
are teaming up with inspection system OEMs to take advantage of
advancements in computer, high definition camera and algorithm
technologies to provide 100 percent inspection on press.
It is common in the narrow web industry to perform both inspection
and slitting/rewinding on offline equipment. By moving the inspec-
tion function on press, operators can be alerted to issues before they
become actual problems that would require removal of defective ma-
terial offline. This could include dirty plates, streaks, hazing, register
problems and color variation. One goal of a quality system is to make
sure defective product doesn’t get shipped to the customer; a higher
level goal, one consistent with lean manufacturing initiatives, is to not
generate that product in the first place.
Systems that provide 100 percent inspection at commercial run speeds
across the full width of even wide web presses are available. They can
provide defect detection, bar code inspection, text inspection and
color monitoring, along with upstream and downstream communica-
tions and integration with MIS. Adding a camera based 100 percent
inspection system can give customers confidence that the products
they receive are 100 percent right every time.
REPEATABLE TOP QUALITY
There are several key areas that printers can focus on to deliver prod-
ucts that will stand out on store shelves: produce high quality images,
ensure color matching to established standards (especially for spot
colors), and provide repeatability and consistency day in and day out.
High quality images can be produced using high definition plates with
a resolution of 4,000 dpi versus the conventional standard of 2,450
dpi. These can produce photographic quality images that match or
surpass those produced with offset printing. These images can also be
produced with special micro screening within the plates and with a
screen ruling of 175 or 198 lpi, compared to a standard of 133 lpi just
a few years ago. They can be matched with new anilox rolls that allow
much higher line counts to support higher resolution plates.
The best practices for color matching today require color measure-
ment, either inline or offline. Color meters can be used to measure
the Delta E value to remove the human factor and help ensure exact,
repeatable and consistent color reproduction. Savvy printers also
ensure that all presses are fingerprinted to allow for exact proofing of
jobs to customers. It means what is proofed can be exactly matched on
press, the first time and every time.
Once the tools are in place to produce high quality images, repeat-
ability is the goal and is achieved through several means. Minimally,
it requires good internal housekeeping of anilox rolls, plates and inks.
Anything that affects solid ink density must be controlled. The list
includes, but is not limited to:
• Ink sets
• Ink temperature
• Plate materials
• Stickyback tape
• Press speed
• Doctor blade systems
As mentioned earlier, labels and packaging materials that include
high quality images can be further enhanced with add on value
from features, such as hot and cold foil stamping, embossing and
silk screening that can add to the premium look. These value added
features open doors to more upscale markets that can offer higher
It should be noted that, as many established flexo printers are adding
digital capabilities to their mix, they are being challenged to produce
labels that look identical coming from either process. It is not unusual
for initial orders of some products to start out in small quantities (dig-
ital) and then grow to higher volumes (which warrant flexo). Equip-
ment that can match quality across printing technologies can prove
to be a key asset for any converter looking to maximize its pressroom
workflows and grow its business.
Today’s narrow web printing presses are finely tuned machines de-
signed to produce the highest quality labels at the highest productivity
rates possible. Modern presses provide the platform to use state of the
art ancillary equipment and processes that, when combined with the
disciplined skill of top printers, can achieve results that rival anything
in the package printing industry. n
About the Author: Mark Andy is a press manufacturer based in Ches-
terfield, MO. Technologies discussed in this article are available on its
machines. For more information, visit www.markandy.com.
Hybrid digital presses, like the Mark Andy Digital Series, offer the short
run, high quality benefits of digital with the inline decoration and converting
options of flexo, in a highly productive solution.
Photo courtesy of Mark Andy
98 FLEXO | AUGUST 2016
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