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FLEXO Magazine : May 2010
Technologies & Techniques 24 FLeXO may 2010 www.flexography.org there are other features that could have been incorporated into the design as well—e.g. microtext for security, raised coatings, textured varnishes, foils and other types of specialty effects that are available and producible in-line in the flexo process.” PrePress Pointers Segueing from design to prepress, Abray indicates, “Our role in this project was to help work with the suppliers of all the different components and help get the optimized results from them; then create the separations that are needed for the pressroom at Cenveo, using the right aniloxes, the right inks, the right sleeves, the right substrate selections and the printing plates as well. “In order to accomplish the resolution of stochastic screen- ing on the first four process color layers on the project, we had to use very fine anilox selection; therefore we had to make sure we were getting the right densities and dot gains, as well as the right tape selection, during our press profile. With respect to the two white layers, the screened white which has the detail and the glow around all of the objects, has a little bit coarser screen because we must utilize the finest anilox that Cenveo can run and still have enough volume to get a decent opacity in the white.” Taking note of the fact that the job requires producing a four- fold magazine cover, Abray admits, “The front cover graphics do present us with some alignment issues. We must make sure all the images, when they flip, line up with the back. That goes for the white that is causing the opacity as well. We had to build the white separation heavy enough to get some white detail, but have transparency as it bleeds off into the background. We had to work the screening against the availability of aniloxes, so we are using 20 micron stochastic on the first four-color pass. We are using a coarser screen on the white because we need more volume of ink there. Then we are running a high line screen conventional screening on the second four process colors. “ Print Perfection “ We’re a hybrid shop. My press may be based on flexo, but in reality, it is a hybrid press,” Marziali explains. “I can do rotary screen. I can do cold foiling. Ten or 15 years ago, most flexo printers wouldn’t think of mixing things together and do- ing that kind of stuff. Nowadays, we mix and match, change it up a bit, make ourselves more and more versatile. Flexogra- phers are the first printers to do that!” Elaborating, to a degree, on Marziali’s point, Andre Blais of Gallus, interjects, “We are taking more and more of the exPanding caPabilities It’s no secret that the cornerstone of the FLEXO cover project is Kodak Flexcel NX plates. One given hold: no limita- tions. Marcelo Marziali, Cenveo flexo supervisor, made it clear from the beginning that no special considerations had to be taken for this job to be a success. “ There are no design restrictions for this job—no special design or limitations because it is flexo—and I think that says a lot,” declared Emma Schlotthauer, global marketing, flexo plate products, Eastman Kodak Co. “ The job uses 20 micron stochastic screening. That’s really been unheard of before in flexo. But it also brings great freedom to both the designer and the printer.” The technology is the recipient of the 2009 FTA Technical Innovation Award. It had been introduced to the market a year earlier, quickly building a buzz off its ability to create flat-topped, analog-style dots in a digital environment. The purpose, according to Schlotthauer, to “address the major dis-satisfiers with traditional digital flexo, and to remove the barriers so that customers could go anywhere they wanted.” That is certainly the case here. “To accomplish a design like this a few years ago using the flexo print process, we would have had to give up some of what the designer was looking for,” says Ben Abray, president, Autumn Graphics. “It may have been a challenge to get all of the inks to lay down with the double passes of process and the white in between. The fade off in the white and the process images would have been a challenge. There may have been some give and take there”. Marziali adds, “If I had been asked to produce this cover three or four years ago, it would have been very difficult. I would have had to involve silk screen to create the white. That was one of the challenges of this job, to double hit a white but create a screen itself and make it look really smooth with no hard edges, and not be blotchy or bridging in any way. ” By itself, the technology could be considered an accomplishment. But Kodak has gone further, and continued to build and improve on the supporting systems, and open doors for new applications. “Image re- production, on-press stability, prepress simplicity and consistency were all key areas that we addressed with the Flexcel NX System —and for narrow web that was enough,” says Schlot- thauer. “But when it came to wide web, we knew that there was another industry issue that needed to be addressed to truly elevate flexo: ink transfer.” To tackle that, Kodak recently released DigiCap NX Screening software that uses the high resolution capability of the Flexcel NX System to apply a micro fine texturization pattern to the plate surface. “ It means smoother ink coverage, higher densities and expanded color gamut—all achieved with no increase in ink usage. Density has a huge effect on visual im- pact and the results from our customers have been stunning,” said Schlotthauer. Also on the wide web front, Kodak is announcing the Flexcel NX Wide System, which will make plates up to 42in. by 60in. Furthermore, Kodak is poised to unveil the Flexcel Direct Sys- tem, a complete direct engraving solution comprising imager, workflow and media, designed to remove the current barriers for a more rapid adoption of in-the-round platemaking. “Kodak is investing heavily in flexo and growth in packaging is a company strategic initia- tive,” says Schlotthauer. a Kodak Flexcel nX plate mounted to a Flint group/ Rotec sleeve. FLX_May10_sec1.indd 24 4/17/10 11:05 PM