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FLEXO Magazine : June 2011
FTA TODAY Advancing Flexography with FIRST Perspectives on Specifications Presenters offered varying perspectives of Flexographic Image Reproduction Specifications and Tolerances (FIRST) and other guidelines at a FFTA’s Annual Fo- rum, where the FIRST Session was chaired by Lon Robinson of Tension Envelope Corp. and co-chaired by Eric Ferguson of MacDermid Printing Solutions. Jay Sperry of HAVI Global Solutions provided an overview of FIRST, emphasizing that the guidelines are specifications, not standards, yet they serve to unify the industry. “F IRST can help product consistency from printer to printer,” he said, noting that each printer has the freedom to implement the specifications according to its own needs. Sperry added that FIRST can help stabilize procedure within a print shop that has multiple global customers, and he encouraged attendees to use FIRST to “avoid completely different expectations from each customer.” Kim Madigan of Smyth Companies offered tips on main- taining commitment to FIRST and presented Smyth’s experi- ence as a case study. She noted that it is natural for employ- ees to want to revert to old, pre-FIRST habits, to question why they must document jobs according to the numbers and to inquire about who looks at the data and how they use it. According to Madigan, the answers lie in the ability to prove that the system works, both to internal stakeholders and to customers. “ When something goes wrong, we can use each data collection point to verify what went to press, make changes in the process by a measured number rather than several guesses and speak to customers and separa- tors about color using numbers from a run rather than talking about visual perceptions. ” Jessica Harkins of Anderson & Vreeland, Inc. addressed the question of whether printers should monitor density and dot area or L*a*b* standards. “ Density and dot area don’t charac- terize hue, but every color has L*a*b* coordinates,” she said. Yet L*a*b* standards are best used as one element of measurement, she said. “ L*a*b* should be used in process control as a third-line defense. If density and dot area are not in control, there is no way to begin to get the color data close. ” Brian Ashe of X-Rite, Inc. treated attendees to several visual experiments during his discussion of color communication. The experiments were designed to reveal the limitations of the human eye when seeing color, such as retinal fatigue, the per- ception of background effects, poor color memory and color deficiencies such as red-green color-blindness. Likewise, the lighting in which a color is viewed will have an impact on how that color is perceived. “Color is light, light is energy and light sources distribute energy differently,” he said. “ We must control the light to man- age our perception of color.” These limitations provide an impetus for digital color com- munication and for using measurements of color tolerance such as L*a*b* and L*C*h°, he said. Mark Samworth of EskoArtwork and FTA’s newest Hall of Fame member discussed the challenges of printing to the numbers when using non-standard materials, which can prevent an exact match to a specification. “ There are two questions to ask,” he said. “How does your proof match your desired specification, and how does your press match your desired specification?” He provided an overview of GRACoL7 and G7—“GRACol7 is a data set, G7 is a method” —with an eye toward scalability. He noted two paths flexographic printing could take going forward. “ We can make standard data sets for flexo printing conditions and we can scale standard data sets to specific flexo conditions,” he said. “ Provide logical rules as to when to use a standard data set or a scaled data set. ” n Sperry Madigan Harkins Ashe Samworth 24 FLEXO June 2011 www.flexography.org
Sustainable Spring 2011