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FLEXO Magazine : September 2009
44 FLEXO SEPTEMBER 2009 www.flexography.org PLANTS & PROCESSES Numerous factors---including aesthetics, finishing and decorating requirements, etc.---are all considered before choosing flexo over digital. "We love flexo, but there are two different markets out there." ---Rosemary Joralemon, director of sales and marketing, Info Label FINDING THE RIGHT MIX "We do a lot of candles and other products with multiple SKUs," said Joralemon. "It was cost prohibitive to run all these SKUs flexo because the customer felt obligated to use up or throw away the labels they had. Digital is the right choice for these customers, as well as for smaller companies just start- ing out, or larger companies doing a line extension with an uncertain future because there is no cost issue if they have to keep changing their artwork." There are plenty of times, however, when flexo is clearly the better process for the job. "If flexo is the right choice for a customer 's need, that's what we do. If rotary screen is really essential, we have that ability with our flexo presses. Sometimes the length of the run is a factor. If we require more than 7,000ft. or 8,000ft., flexo may be more cost effective. If the company is going to keep ordering the same product again and again with no changes, that could also be a flexo job. Long runs with one and two colors would likely run flexo. We do a lot of work for paper mills producing labels that go on the outside of cartons. It's not a high- end glossy label and that makes more sense to do flexo." She added, "We love flexo, but there are two different markets out there." Ganging jobs---in some cases 30 to 40 SKUs of a similar-sized label---is common among those who run digital presses. But it's not just about run length and cost per unit, Joralemon insisted. "We consider everything from the aesthetics to the application of the job and consider them to decide whether it is best suited for digital or flexo." In fact, sometimes the answer to the question of flexo or digital is both. "We do foil stamping quite a bit with the digital presses," Joralemon said. "You can't use metallic inks on the digital machine and you can't foil stamp in-line. But once printed, they are moved to a finishing machine with flexo sta- tions on them. There we can do foil stamping and die cutting in-line, with metallic ink or glitter varnish. So a digital label can get the same sort of sophistication as a flexo label. "Of course, on a flexo press we can do all that in one pass. That's not the case with digital. The large majority of our wine labels are done digitally. They are shorter runs with multiple SKUs. Some of our high-end beauty products require a foil stamp or metallic emblem on them as well. We can also achieve an embossed look through varnish on some digitally produced labels." MEASURE AND MANAGE Joralemon said that, even on the digital press, color manage- ment is essential, and is done in much the same way as on the flexo press. "We use spectrophotometers just like we do on the flexo presses to make sure we are reading the color correctly," she said. "The digital presses that HP offers can do CMYK or CMYK plus orange and violet, which will reproduce more than 90 percent of the Pantone colors. But we mea- sure and control the process and get great results on both." In fact, she explained that the same label printed digitally and flexographi- cally could be placed side-by-side on the shelf and no one could tell the difference. As with all things, though, there are obstacles. "We pre- dominantly use clear film for digital and flexo. We consider ourselves experts on using white on digital and will use up to four whites to get the opacity we need." For the most part, any substrate Info Label can run flexo can be run on our HP Indigo digital presses. "The range is close but not identical. So far, we have not met a challenge we couldn't overcome."