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FLEXO Magazine : May 2009
TECHNOLOGIES & TECHNIQUES 1:1 image transfer on the plate. IMPRESSION VARIATION Because fl exo depends on pressure to transfer the ink to the substrate, variations in that pressure can cause inconsistencies. The fl at-top dots on Kodak’s plates print consistently despite impression variation. Rounded dots will print small dots with light pressure, and they will print larger dots as pressure increases. However, fl at-top dots print the correct size dot with light pressure, and the change in dot size is minimal even as pressure increases. Wide impression latitude and low sensitivity to impression settings enable faster press setup and greater print stability, not only for maintaining print quality during a single run, but for achieving the same print quality on subsequent runs. PREDICTABLE ENOUGH FOR LENTICULAR New applications are putting the predictability of Kodak’s fl exo system to the test. For example, lenticular printing is an application that requires lines of precise size and location that combine to produce sharp images and perceived depth. Traditional fl exo plates simply haven’t been up to the task, so sheetfed off set has been the technology of choice. In 2008, Pacur, the leading manufacturer of lenticular lens material, and Pixalen Studios, its prepress partner, tested Kodak’s plates to see if they would be able to print lenticular. The test was a success, and since then there have been several trials, repeatedly demonstrating that Kodak’s new fl exo system is a viable option for lenticular printing of 3D images on a roll to roll substrate. Dots imaged on the thermal imaging layer are a perfect match to the pixels in the RIPed fi le. RELIABLE PLATES Predictability is only one part of the equation. To truly get cost and productivity benefi ts, a printer needs to be able to get the most out of each and every plate. Making new plates and stopping and restarting the press to clean plates or change plates are the real time and money burners. Remember the fl at tops and stable bases of the dots created with Kodak’s system? These features are the secret to the durability of Kodak’s plates. Durability enables longer run lengths, increased resistance to damage from cleaning, and consistent color throughout the print run. With the bullet-shaped dots of traditional digital plates, the printing pressure is applied to a very small area causing very high stress, which results in accelerated wear at the tip of the dot. Kodak’s fl at top dots distribute the pressure more evenly across the surface, reducing the stress levels and signifi cantly reducing the wear rate. In addition, with traditional digital plates the smaller dots have a tendency to be pushed over and damaged during use. The strong base and shoulders of the fl at top dots on Kodak’s plates make the dots more resistant to damage during printing and cleaning. 28 FLEXO MAY 2009 www. f le xography. org