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FLEXO Magazine : July 2011
to discuss different facets of a job: the best ways to separate a job, placement and build of control targets and printer marks, web edge treatment, etc. EDUCATION COMES FIRST I’d wager that the least read section of the FIRST manual is the Design section. That should change. Those 42 pages con- tain an abundance of useful information and a general walk- through of the information that designers will need to know as they begin their work. Printers and prepress providers should be fluent in all of this information and encourage the designer and the CPCs to adopt FIRST as a means to standardize and improve communication. The Design section of FIRST includes many different con- siderations for designers. All can potentially cause problems or delay production timelines, if not handled correctly on the front end. Thorough descriptions of the advantages of work- ing in layers, considerations for drop shadows, problems with banding in vertical vignettes and gradients, proper file naming conventions, “picket fence” barcodes vs. “ ladder ” barcodes, etc., are offered. It also contains direction on one of the most fundamentally important aspects of the production workflow: an understanding of the template layout. A common problem I’ve seen from designers is this mis- understanding of the die drawing. All die-cut or slit package types—whether they be flexible pillow bags, stand-up pouch- es, fluted boxes or labels—require some sort of template file for graphics placement. These templates, at a minimum, should include dimensions and live print areas. The printer, prepress provider or CPC should provide them to the design- er as early as possible in the production process. Obviously, the more detail provided in the die drawing, the less chance that the designer will misinterpret the template and place print elements in inappropriate areas. For exam- ple, in a pillow bag for potato chips printing on wide web film, an effective die drawing would: • Indicate that no copy or print should fall in an eyemark lane. • Include the proper location for the weight mark. • Specify the top and bottom web edge treatment for the plate break. BEYOND FIRST FIRST is an incredibly useful resource for designers. There are, however, additional factors for designers to consider that go beyond the scope of the manual. I intend to devote the rest of this article to mentioning some of these, and I propose that printers and prepress providers educate designers and CPCs on why these matters can cause press problems. Section 7.5 of FIRST contains a paragraph devoted to fac- tors that influence hard edges and dirty print, but it’s a brief paragraph that does not provide a large amount of detail. I’ve seen a number of designs that contain shadows created with the Gaussian Blur filter or Drop Shadow effect in Illustrator. As presented, the shadows will fade into a white or another color that does not contain a minimum dot percentage of the shadow color. Onscreen, it looks fine. On press, it’s another 30 FLEXO july 2011 www.flexography.org Communications meeting is held before taking a job to press. It should involve the CPC, designer, prepress trade shop and printer.