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FLEXO Magazine : March 2009
TECHNOLOGIES & TECHNIQUES FIGURE S. Higher density, good solids, poor dot structure. FIGURE 6. Medium Density, combination. FIGURE 7. Lower density, good dot reproduction, poor solids. durometer for optimum results. Typically for high-line screen process printing a harder durometer plate will be used with a lower density backing. This way, the dot structure will have rigid support and the backing will absorb the shock of the printing impression. When printing solids, it is common to use a softer plate durometer and a higher density backing. This allows for a higher transfer efficiency of the ink to the substrate. The plate tends to distribute ink more uniformly and the harder backing firmly compresses the plate to the substrate filling in voids in the surface. When printing combination work, where you have both half- tones and solids on the same plate, a medium density backing or combination tape can be used for acceptable results. Don't always assume that a poor solid is just the result of not enough ink. It is sometimes caused by the improper combination of plate and cushion backing. The banded roll trial is the perfect opportunity to test all these variables. By trying different plate duro meters, cushion tape densities and ink systems during your banded roll test you will soon find the optimum recipe for reproduction and standardization. Once these standards are set you can imple- ment them across the pressroom to improve repeatability and - Typically you will see proofer rolls with a lD-percent to 3D-percent increase in volume over press anilox to obtain proper color match with thinner ink film printing. consistency. These simple process improvements will drastically reduce your downtime. IMPROVED PERFORMANCE These comprehensive ideals to on press standardization will enable flexographers to achieve unprecedented consistency and performance by using key measurements to optimize printing variables. Implementing a complete standardization process will help you meet Flex.ographic Image Reproduction Specifications and Tolerances (FIRST) guidelines. In the current market conditions, we must do all that is neces- sary to maintain that competitive edge. This is a time where the strong get stronger and the weak lose market share. With mate- rial costs constantly on the rise and margins remaining the same we must take every opportunity to improve our overall perfor- mance. Streamlining our production process and standardizing our variables is the way to increased repeatability and consistency and ultimately improving our bottom line. I once worked with a great engineer who, every time we would discuss new technologies, he would say, "Good, fast and cheap-pick two because you can't have all three." Now I have come to realize that we must have all three to survive. Every opportunity must be exploited. We need "high-quality products delivered expeditiously at a cost-effective rate." Anything less is unacceptable. . ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Paul Teachout has been in the packag- ing industry for more than 25years. Starting out in offset, he moved to flexo press manufacturing with Webtron in 1986. He remained with the company through its evolution to finally become Aquaflex.. Teachout has held numerous key positions including printing man- agement, application specialists, sales support, engineering support, marketing and product development manager. As of March 2008, he is the southeast technical graphics advisor for Harper Corporation of America. He is also active on industry committees and is a contributor to numerous technical articles. MARCH 2009 www.f I exog ra p hy.o rg FLEXO
Sustainable Winter 2009