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FLEXO Magazine : July 2010
Technologies & Techniques shapes), usually offer 3D export, and can provide some simple interactive predistortion. With the software, designers can see precisely where and how a graphic design will suffer from the distortion of the shrink label. This allows the designer to either make design decisions to avoid the problems, or use state-of-the-art tech- nology to compensate for the design. The software is sophis- ticated enough to work for shrink sleeve production for both singular liquid containers or for multi-packs. Compensating Complex Distortions While existing tools have allowed designers to take a sim- ple 3D model, rotate it, and make a very good guess of the 3D shape, it’s a lot different with unusual shapes—for example bleach bottles with handles and olive oil bottles. Recently, however, a new solution has become available to make the process much easier. It compensates for the complex combination of horizontal and vertical distortions that come with irregular shapes. It is a CAD application that is able to de- sign a shrink label around a 3D model, regardless of whether it is a simple revolved profile or quite irregular complex shape, or even multi-packs. The behavior of the substrate in the shrink tunnel is virtually simulated in the application. It fits into existing design and prepress workflows and can save hours of operator time and weeks of lead time in the design process—although it still requires some amount of decision-making on the part of the designer and prepress operator. The new component automates the design and prepress in Adobe® Illustrator®. The software helps designers quickly test, analyze and communi- cate with 3D visuals, eliminating the need for expensive, time- consuming physical test runs. The new software solution accommodates asymmetrical shapes and multi-packs, and works in 3D from start to finish through these workflow steps: Virtual Shrink Tunnel: The process starts in what could be described as a virtual shrink tunnel. First, the contour or profile of the bottle or product that needs warped graphics is imported into the software. The converter creates, scans or imports the container shape (which is almost always avail- able in a CAD file format) into the software, enters the shrink film characteristics, and the software digitally shrinks the sleeve around the container. Once the characteristics of the shrink sleeve are defined, a digital shrink sleeve file is saved and the artwork design process can begin. 3D Design: The digital shrink sleeve file is used in Adobe® Illustrator® to design directly on the sleeved shape. Artwork elements are selected, one by one, and the type of warp that is most appropriate for the graphic elements and the shape are chosen. Collaboration: To enhance communication and collabora- tion, the artwork designer can export 3D models to a PDF file, high-resolution package images, or QuickTime movies. In the 3D visuals, the artwork will shrink and distort in the same way as it would in the shrink tunnel. These features make shrink sleeve design a predictable process; basically what you see is what you get. When the pre-distorted design is printed and applied to the container, the result will be much more repre- sentative of what the designer and brand owner intended. A structural CAD drawing of the product and wrap virtually estimates the physical effects of heat on the shrink wrap. 38 FLeXO july 2010 www.flexography.org FLXO_July10_v2.indd 38 7/16/10 9:36 AM
Sustainable Summer 2010