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FLEXO Magazine : November 2010
Thinking Thermal? You Have Choices. MacDermid Printing Solutions is a leading supplier of thermal plates and processing tecnology. Our digital photopolymer sheet plates are unique in that they can be dual processed either in traditional solvents or using MacDermid’s LAVA thermal processing equipment, you choose. MacDermid also offers the only digital capped plate in the world, which can be dual processed. So before you take the next step in your plate processing work flow, take a look at what MacDermid has to offer. When you’re looking for the most flexible range of options in taking your operation thermal, count on the company that says “Yes We Can” . MacDermid. NotSoFastNotSoFast Think You Only Have ONE Choice? Photopolymer Plates Equipment 5210 Phillip Lee Drive, Atlanta, GA 30336, USA Telephone: +1 800.348.7201 www.macdermid.com/printing © 2010 MacDermid, Inc. All rights reserved HD Flexo: Just like offset Given the cost effectiveness of flexo, the Holy Grail has always been ‘prints just like offset’, making it a viable replace- ment for other print technologies. So, it’s not surprising that anyone who sells flexo technology would tout that it is a good substitute for offset. Since it was introduced nearly two years ago, hundreds of users can attest that plates created by HD Flexo truly ‘print like offset’. How? It’s a double-edge approach. HD Flexo gives them the ability to print like offset by combining 4,000 ppi high- resolution, 6-8μ laser spot imaging technology together with advanced hi-definition screening capabilities, specially tuned to the laser resolution. Higher Resolution Extends Tonal Range By decreasing the laser spot size and increasing the num- ber of pixels, we are increasing the surface data — and tripling the detail of the plate. Immediately, the results are sharper text and linework, and smaller dots than created by standard digi- tal flexo. At the same time, the higher resolution of HD Flexo produces a much smoother and more stable dot, resulting in decreased dot gain, extended tonal range and, ultimately, a wider color gamut. Transitional Screening With a Twist Unlike hybrid screening technologies (even Esko’s own screening for standard resolutions), HD Screening uses vari- able dot sizes on an AM (halftone) screening grid. Tiny-sized dots, too small to print, act as a base to hold up the plate for the printable highlight dots. This eliminates grainy highlights and ensures a smooth fade to zero. A side benefit is that with this ‘foundation’, plates also run longer on the press. Is there anything HD Flexo doesn’t do like offset? Accord- ing to our research, it produces a better tonal range, almost linear in the highlights and with lower gain than offset in the 1⁄4 through 3⁄4 tones! You can be the judge, according to these two HD Flexo trials, comparing 200 lpi HD Flexo, 300 lpi HD Flexo, and an offset ISO 12647 curve. Both HD Flexo trial curves are closer to linear than offset — lower in the quarter and mid-tones and comparable in the shadows. Beyond more accurate printing, this means a lot to flexo printers, who are accustomed to building dot gain or tone curves to their artwork. According to what we have seen from our customers, in many cases they are no longer applying any curves to their HD Flexo press runs. In some cases, where the shop prints very clean, they are applying a slight ‘push curve’ to bring the print closer to ISO or SWOP. In facilities using presses with high gain, curves are being applied, but less dramatically than with conventional plates. Flat-Top Dot: Available Technology that’s Segment Dependent A lot is made of flat dot technology and how it may help cer- tain industry segments of flexo printing. We see it as segment dependent and an issue of personal preference. For thick plates used to print corrugated, flat-top dot technology can add stability to the highlight dot. But, from what we have seen, there does not appear to be a significant advantage of flat-top dots in narrow web applications. In fact, flat-top dots can increase dot gain throughout the tonal range because of the technology’s inherent, broader shoulder. However, the technology is available. Esko digital imag- ers and HD Flexo can be used with all flat-top technologies available with ablative plates. Thus, you have the flexibility to output a standard digital dot, a flat-top digital dot, or a flat-top dot integrated with HD Flexo. HD Flexo: Plays Well With Others Currently, all industry-standard digital plate manufactur- ers support HD Flexo technology, along with all processing modes: solvent, thermal, or aqueous. And, both Esko digital imagers and HD Flexo technol- ogy are flexible and backed by considerable EskoArtwork ex- perience and expertise to adapt and grow with industry changes. As those who have added HD Flexo to their existing Esko digital imagers already know, there’s a solid upgrade path with EskoArtwork. fall conference edition FLX_Nov10_mech.indd 29 11/1/10 2:23 PM
Sustainable Fall 2010