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FLEXO Magazine : July 2011
Digital plate imaging technology, combined with advanced screening and exposure, has allowed flexo to challenge the quality of both offset and gravure printing. This is true, not only in narrow web applications, but also in wide web, preprint, and post-print. Most flexo print applications are now regularly exceeding 120 lpi and sometimes go as high as 200 lpi. The prepress provider plays an integral role in determining how these plate technologies can be used to achieve maxi- mum results at the converters within the client’s supply chain. In some cases, a prepress provider will supply files for image carriers to be produced at the converter. These files must con- tain all of the information necessary for the output device they will be sent to and the type of image carrier that is required. For example: the screening, compensation, and distortion must be contained within the supplied files and the file format and resolution must also be compatible. While many narrow web, wide web, or preprint plates are ready to ship after being produced, most post print corrugat- ed converters require that the prepress provider also mount the plates for their particular press. Once again, converter specifications are required. Mounting for corrugated requires specific knowledge of the press and generally the mounted set of plates will be produced exclusively for the converter and printing press des- ignated. Mounting specifications must be adhered to strictly to ensure a successful pressrun. The prepress provider can also play a role at the pressrun. The prepress provider again acts as the link between the de- signer ’s vision and the converter’s capabilities and standard specifications during the pressrun. Most prepress providers employ personnel that can provide technical support to the converter or client during the run. Generally, this is related to measuring and comparing the current print to the press characterization data that was collected at an earlier date. The converter is also measur- ing print data and printing to predetermined specifications. If print issues arise, the prepress provider can work with the converter to diagnose the issue and correct it. In the end, we would all prefer to avoid “crunch time.” Pre- press for flexographic applications is a very technical process and it requires that all the suppliers follow the various speci- fications provided to avoid wasted time and costly reworks. Proper planning, early collaboration with the designer, and strong teamwork throughout the production cycle can ensure that we all meet and exceed the client’s expectations. n About the Author: Bob Dauses is the business development manager for Mark/Trece Inc. Bob has 20-years experience in the flexo industry and is a graduate of Guilford College in Greensboro, NC He has served on the FTA Prepress Leader- ship Council and has also been an FTA Excellence in Flexog- raphy Awards competition judge. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Converters, like Bemis, insist on consistency and repeatability, making careful attention in prepress essential. 56 FLEXO july 2011 www.flexography.org