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FLEXO Magazine : January 2010
42 FLEXO JANUARY 2010 www.flexography.org used, the printing ran better than ever. It's not just WKA that has been impressed with the results---the company is receiv- ing very encouraging feedback from its customers. "We've had customers call us up enthusiastically to tell us how smoothly everything is running during printing, and how well things are going with the high-resolution sleeves," said Linke. "The point is now more strongly developed. We can descend much further with the first printing point using high resolution. If the first printing point was conventionally around 40-45μ, we can now descend to a point with 25μ. With the high-resolution option, users are able to achieve a much finer focus point, which can open the black LAMS layer on the digital plate and digital sleeve with extreme precision." The WKA sleeve specialists discovered further advantages of high resolution. The in-the-round plates already provide more sharpness in printing in the four-color area because of more precise registration, and are complemented by the more exact high-resolution point, which fits them very well. And while the customer doesn't necessarily see this, print spe- cialists certainly do---they can clearly see that the results look cleaner and have a better quality over the entire tonal range, surface and object. So with the testing on the high-resolution optics completed, what conclusions can be drawn? What do sleeves lasered with high-resolution optics at high-resolution offer? And what do high-resolution optics mean for printing flexible packag- ing, branded articles and flexo-printing customers? "High resolution has a key role to play in manufacturing flexible packaging, as it helps reduce costs and generates excellent reproducible quality," stated Linke. "Essentially, high resolu- tion is the process of the future, a future with high-quality sleeves for a wide medium-packaging segment." For Volker Klos, company manager at WKA, the sleeves produced using high resolution are winning over the people that matter most: its customers: "We always strive to deliver top quality, reliable products to our customers. High-resolu- tion imaging allows us to do exactly that. Even critical and particularly price-conscious customers like those in the car- rier bag market have been convinced." CURRENT SCREEN RULINGS (& BEYOND) Today, WKA has many months' experience using the 4,000dpi imager, and was using it for approximately 15 per- cent of its output. However, following the Best Choice project, all three laser imagers were soon working with high resolu- tion. The test results were unequivocal, and it was only a short time before all imagers in the sleeves manufacturing unit were equipped with the high-resolution option, meaning 100 percent of WKA's sleeves manufacturing operation uses the high-resolution option. The productivity following the transition from standard to high-resolution optics has also stayed the same. And based on the WKA's experience, it can be assumed that this resolution optimization is feasible with all of the available sleeve materials. WKA's experience has made one thing clear: the high-resolution optics provide a raft of benefits with normal screen rulings and normal materials, without a change in the printing and with the normal anilox rolls. For WKA, delivering top quality is its primary focus---something that the high- resolution option has helped it achieve. The company's customers are enjoying brand- ed products supplied in even higher-quality, flexible packaging using the inexpensive flexo process. Now, if a customer demands a 54 (137lpi) printing screen, the company has a better-defined point, and can ensure greater reproducibility. In the future, WKA will use the high-reso- lution option to achieve even higher screen rulings. The great thing about the high resolution is that the marked increases in quality can be enjoyed not only with today's prevalent screen rulings, but also those used in the future. ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ian Hole, with more than 25 years' experience in packaging, began his career in England at Lawson Mardon. He subsequently joined Scitex Corp.---first in Belgium and then in Israel---with roles in product develop- ment and marketing. In 1989, Hole joined BARCO Graphics at its Belgium head- quarters as product manager. He came to North America in 1999 as vice president for market development with direct responsibility for the future growth and market penetration of Esko products. Hole has degrees in graphics and printing sci- ence from the London College of Print, in England. Addition- ally, Hole holds a Boston Business degree from the University of Brussels, in Belgium. Now based in Chicago, IL, Hole speaks frequently at indus- try seminars on topics ranging from technology, markets and business issues in the printing and prepress industry. He is a member of the board of the FPPA the FTA Latin America, and the FIRST technical committee. He is holder of the 2006 FTA President's award. The vastly improved quality of the dot is seen even more clearly from the midtones of 137lpi screens. On the left, quality of the dot with standard screens, and on the right, a beautifully rounded dot gener- ated from 4,000dpi. PLANTS & PROCESSES
Sustainable EOY 2009