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FLEXO Magazine : September 2009
40 FLEXO SEPTEMBER 2009 www.flexography.org PLANTS & PROCESSES Digital makes for more versatile offer- ings. Photos courtesy Tursso Companies (left), Dion Label (right) and Associated Labels (bottom). "For customers, design agencies and printers alike, it is extremely comforting to know that the proofs are exact replicas of the printed job. There are no color communication problems. With the digital press, the proof is the production sample." ---Sue Hebert, prepress manager, Dion Label Printing Some customers prefer the digital press, but up to a price (or, pain) point. They are willing to pay a premium, but only to an extent. Ganging jobs with flexo is a challenge, because if quantities change, the existing plates cannot be reused. In digital, you can pop a new grouping configuration over to the press in a matter of minutes. "Some customers love digital and will pay a pre- mium cost for high-volume orders. Most customers are very concerned with economy and want flexo printing if we can pro- vide better pricing," said Hebert. "If the flexo cost is lower, we will move them with confidence. On new projects we look at customer history, required construction and applica- tion, current and projected volumes, difficult knockouts and gradients, the number of colors, and supplied file quality to determine which process would produce the best outcome---unless the customer is predisposed to one method or another." Some vinyls (very spe- cific dies for cutting through thin liners) and in-line die cutting are not as easy in digital. It's more economical to produce just those jobs that require this in-line on a flexo press, rather than going through a lengthy setup offline. While one printer was not comfortable with the match between the digital and flexo press, the others insisted there was no problem moving from one press to another to do the same job. Hebert is very happy with her servo press, and noted that the quality is relatively the same. "Even the registration on our servo press is excellent. Of course, if text is a spot color, such as reflex blue, you will get crisper type from a printing plate on a flexo press than a CKV (cyan, black and violet) three-color process build on a digital press." Generally, matching colors is critical. "We first run digital to get the color approved, then we get the job approved with flexo inks," said Rankin. "Our digital press is pretty good, but we find that color is not as accurate as flexo. There are a variety of factors with flexo that can be done us- ing conventional techniques, such as extending inks and using different aniloxes. However, some digital matches are easy and some are hard."