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FLEXO Magazine : June2010
“Mark has 16 years of experience with flexo platemaking, and knew that the presence of oxygen was preventing us from rendering the desired dot surface and shoulder angles that we were accustomed to seeing on our analog plates,” said Skrzyn- ski. During the next few months of experimenting with various digital plate materials and processing methods, CSW attracted the interest of MacDermid’s Technical Team, which at that time was already advancing the development of flat-tipped digital dots. MacDermid’s method ultimately included laminating a transparent membrane to the surface of ablated plate material during the exposure process. Preventing oxygen interaction with monomers in this way results in flat-tipped dots with great relief. “It just happened that CSW’s interests coincided with our existing R&D initiatives,” noted Steven Kenney, business director at MacDermid Printing Solutions. “The combination of our ‘dot engineering’ research program and CSW’s practical platemaking experience was remarkably productive. It drove us to leverage years of funda- mental investigation of digital plate behavior into a practi- cal and improved system,” explained Dr. Timothy Gotsick, director of innovation at MacDermid Printing Solutions. “C SW and MacDermid pushed one another hard to go beyond the current state of the art. Both teams were driven by what this new generation of digital plate making has to offer: accuracy, expanded gamut and predictable printing results. Ease of use and integration with existing systems was an added bonus. ” Armed with this new platemaking technology, CSW approached several customers who agreed to test it in a production environment. “ The initial results were stunning, but we did not want to jump to any quick conclusions,” said Skrzynski. “More testing at longer runs, faster speeds and on various substrates were required. We wanted to make sure that our results were repeatable, as well as achievable with- out any additional capital investment on the converter’s part. ” The picture that emerged from many postproduction evaluations was more than promising. “Not only did we run cleaner, longer, and with greater latitude, but we also reduced fluting, and almost doubled the resolution,” said John Lehtomaki, print production manager at New England Wooden Ware, one of CSW’s earliest test sites. “ It seems like digital platemaking technology finally has something to offer to corrugated printers.” Reduced fluting on corrugated board and improved print- ability of small copy and reverses were not the only benefits of this new technology. CSW worked together with Bemis’ Poly- ethylene Division in Terre Haute, IN and managed to impress some of the most demanding brand managers. The designs for a set of shrink-wrapped cases of bottled water were rich in details, with highly saturated colors and challenging gradients. CSW was able to output these as linear files, with no bump curve at 120 to 170lpi. HD -XM screening technol- ogy rendered vignettes down to 0 percent, without any hard edges, while keeping shadows open at 98 percent. According to Vic Corenflos, printing manager at Bemis, “We knew that CSW would do their best to image engineer this job, but the results have surpassed our expectations. This is one of the best flexo pieces we have seen yet on our shrinkable film.” By combining HD-XM screening, a state-of-the-art color management system, and MacDermid’s plate processing sys- tem, CSW developed a solution that can help users compete head-to-head with offset and gravure print quality. CSW is now in the process of removing all imagesetters from its Lud- low location and expanding its plate department to the area previously occupied by the darkroom. Skrzynski concluded, “This is an end of an era. It’s amazing that such a simple in- novation could be integrated with a proven workflow and lead to a total game change.” n ABOUT THE AUTHORS: For the past 11 years, Marek Skrzyn- ski has been working as a director of graphics and R&D at CSW Inc., headquartered in Ludlow, MA. Born and educated in Poland with additional study at Pratt Institute and Clem- son University, he has 20 years of hands-on experience in high-end color reproduction and flexography, as well as 15 years of managing experience across multiple prepress and graphic design functions. Skrzynski is often a speaker and lecturer at various academic and printing industry events. He occasionally writes technical articles for Corrugated Today, Package Printing and FLEXO Magazine, as well as contrib- utes to military history periodicals. Karen Leet is graphics and marketing communications manager at CSW Inc. After earning a BFA in Communication Design from Massachusetts College of Art, Karen worked for several corporations as a designer of consumer products, ex- hibits, print collateral, and packaging. She has been involved with production planning and marketing coordination at CSW for the past 12 years. This article references LUX digital platemaking technology developed by MacDermid Printing Solutions. Technologies & Techniques www.flexography.org june 2010 FLeXO 41 An example of 6pt. type produced on digital technology implemented at CsW inc., compared with traditional digital imaging devices. FLX_June2010_mech.indd 41 6/10/10 9:39 AM