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FLEXO Magazine : October 2010
Technologies & Techniques Real UseR expeRience Marketing claims and virtual data are one thing. Proven evidence and user testimonials are quite another. User feedback has indicated that the combined benefits of these technolo- gies have provided cost savings in their operations that have accounted for: • Upward of 30 percent savings in prepress labor cost resulting from decreased color correction and file manipulation. • An estimated 15-30 percent aver- age reduction in makeready time and materials. • Two to five times more plate life and less plate remakes compared to traditional digital plates (digital LAMS). • Average 10 percent faster run speeds. • Reduction in the number of colors and printing units required per job—often reducing the previous requirement for seven or eight colors down to four to six. Even taken conservatively, the appli- cation of real numbers to these percent- ages will demonstrate a significant impact on variable cost reduction in the total manufacturing process. “ With our previous plates, we’d run a job of 150,000 to 200,000 feet and have to replace the set of process plates, says Niven Davis, plant manager at Label, Tags and Inserts, Burlington, NC. “ With this technology, we’ve run the same job three times on a single set of plates, and the plates are still good. And as long as we put the same anilox with that plate every time, we get the same color from run to run. ” Users have demonstrated a 20-40 percent savings in overall plate usage since converting from LAMS technology. competing with offset... at what cost? Maintaining the focus of gaining a competitive advantage versus offset printing often requires an “offset men- tality ” in the preparation of graphics for flexo reproduction. On this subject, there has been a great deal of recent discussion involving the need for flexo to image graphics at higher (4,000dpi) resolution output. This thought process begs the question, “If the vast majority of graphics for offset printing remain to be output at 2,400 or 2,540dpi, why is it necessary for flexo to output at 4,000dpi in order to play on the same field?” The real answer to this question is that it is far less of an issue of output resolution and much more an issue of addressability. One of the real benefits that offset has historically held over flexo has been in the difference in both ease of graphics reproduction and the capability to effectively reproduce the intent of the original file. Because of the inherent limitations of the flexo repro- duction process—largely related to the processes of image output and plate making—a great amount of retouch- ing and correction of process color images has been necessary. This color correction often leads to inherent loss of gray values and original file intent. In addition, it often involves a great deal of time and cost. This brings us back to the issue of resolution versus address- ability and how it all relates to variable cost reduction. By utilizing imaging and plate technology that enables the capability to reproduce graphics 1:1:1 with minimal sacrifice to original gray levels, users can develop the “offset mentality ” in preparation of graphics and begin to realize the associated cost savings gained. States Jose’ Guillermo Orduz, pre- press manager at Gilpa Impresores S.A, a wide web flexible packaging converter in Bogota, Colombia, “We have seen a productivity increase of 30 percent in the prepress department, due to less retouch, less colors and 1:1:1 reproduction. ” Imaging graphics 1:1 from file to mask requires the use of a lower power, focused square-shaped laser head that provides the capability to effectively image a 10.6 x 10.6 micron spot size. This imaging technology is the only cur- rent laser technology for flexo that can effectively reproduce all 255 gray levels existing in the original file, and is the same laser technology utilized for offset graphics reproduction. The higher-power Gaussian laser more commonly utilized for flexo graph- ics reproduction, regardless of resolu- tion output, is incapable of addressing the intricate pixel details that exist in the original file. Even the application of some of the “advanced screening tech- nologies” available in the market today fail to address true addressability of original tone value range from original file to the mask to the plate. Of course, the capability to image the original intent of the file to a mask is not meaningful unless that same capabil- Flat-top dots (right), compared with the round top dots of traditional digital lAMs plates (left). www.flexography.org october 2010 FLeXO 17 Over 40 years of experience in the flexographic industry, design and production of the highest quality systems. innovation is the key to our success. COMPUTER CONTROLLED VISCOSITY CONTROL SYSTEM IN THE ROUND SLEEVEMAKING SYSTEMS IN THE ROUND SLEEVEMAKING Head Office AV Flexologic B.V. H. K . Onnesweg 2 P.O. Box 252 NL-2400 AG Alphen aan den Rijn The Netherlands Tel +31 (0)172 434221 Fax +31 (0)172 437919 Mail firstname.lastname@example.org Toll Free number from the UK 0800-3892121 (only accessible in the UK) PHOTOPOLYMER PLATEMAKING EQUIPMENT FULLY AUTOMATIC MOUNTING MACHINE for flexo printing plates (for the flexible packaging and corrugated industry) Advanced MOUNTING & PROOFING EQUIPMENT (for the flexible packaging, corrugated and label industry) www.flexologic.nl PRE-PRESS EQUIPMENT FROM MODEST SYSTEMS TO THE MOST ADVANCED HIGH-TECH SOLUTIONS FLX_Oct10_mech.indd 17 10/15/10 9:27 AM
Sustainable Fall 2010