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FLEXO Magazine : July 2009
FTA TODAY See page 47 for the complete guide. Or, visit www.fl exography.org to download a PDF copy. FIRST by Design Designer-Friendly Guide to Flexo-Friendly Files I t’s something everyone in the fl exographic printing and converting industry can say they’ve encountered before: A design that has clearly not been built with fl exo in mind. Perhaps the fi le contains more colors than the press has stations, multiple gradients dropping off to zero, and in some cases, elements that would be challenging to print on any platform. The problem isn’t new. In fact, it was addressed in the Premier Edition of FIRST (Flexographic Image Reproduction Specifi cations and Tolerances). “When FIRST’s Premier Edition came out, as I read through it, I thought, ‘Wow, this has a lot of great information in it.’ It had a great design guide,” said Gary Hilliard of Hood Packaging, Arden Hills, MN. The caveat: FIRST was written with printers and prepress providers in mind. It doesn’t always speak the “language” of the so-called average graphic designer. “If you work in graphics management or coordination, you probably spend a 14 FLEXO JULY 2009 lot of time working with designers trying to get fi les that are going to print well,” he said. “I thought it would be great if we had a guide that we could give to designers that told them how they could prepare fi les for fl exography.” Hilliard did just that, and, with the permission of FTA, put together a document based on FIRST guidelines as well as his own operation’s unique capabilities that could be given to any designer his plant worked with. In September of 2005, FLEXO published an article about this effort and offered that document to all FTA members and magazine subscribers as a free PDF download. Fast-forward several years. FIRST has seen a major revision and expansion since that article, and some information is specifi c to the Arden Hills operations, and thus not applicable to all segments and all applications. In response to this, members of FTA’s Strategic Planning Initiative (SPI) Leadership Councils determined that a new, designer-friendly guide must be assembled, built from the www. f le xography. org specifi cations outlined in the recently released FIRST 4.0. “When we revived the Wide Web Council, we talked about the different goals that we had, and this was one of them,” explained Hilliard, who is also the current FFTA board chairman. “Then we talked to the Prepress Council and found out it was one of their goals as well.” A subcommittee was assembled from members of the Prepress Leadership Council (Mark Coffman, Dixie Graphics; and Greg Price, MarkMaker Co.) and Wide Web Leadership Council (Hilliard). “With my background in both sales and production, I’ve seen so many instances where a good design would have saved a lot of trouble on press side,” said Coffman, who is also slated to co-chair FFTA Forum 2010. “So I wanted to help get a guide out there for designers and get it in their hands.” The project took almost a full year to complete. The revisions were reviewed by experts who had contributed por
Sustainable Spring 2009