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FLEXO Magazine : December 2011
These continuous side-by-side slalom ink channels are engraved radially around the outside diameter of the roll. “At that point,” noted Harvey, “The similarity ends between conven- tional hexcell anilox surfaces and our new engraving. So, we decided to call it ‘Genetic Transfer Technology ’ because of the resemblance of our channels to the helical shape of DNA. ” In addition to this slalom ink channel development, Apex developed an extremely hard (in excess of 1500 Vickers) pro- prietary hybrid ceramic coating and engraved the channel using a constant laser beam—as opposed to a pulse laser. These innovations allowed for a smooth-wall channel depth that’s 40 percent-to- 60 percent shallower than hexcell anilox engravings. “ What we discovered in the finished roller was that we could use ‘thinner’ inks to achieve the same or improved density as hexcell anilox,” stated Hendricks. “ T he ink release to plate is much more consistent and complete because the ink is no longer ‘stressed.’ T he channel geometry and the very smooth ceramic allowed ink to transfer and replenish faster and more calmly.” UNEXPECTED BENEFITS During the research and initial rollout phase, it became evident that GTT was able to print solids and screens from the same roller, thus often eliminating the need for second and third ink stations to achieve combo results. “T his was a pleasant surprise,” Harvey explained. “One GTT roller could do the work of two or three hexcell roll- ers. ” What’s more, he discovered, GTT sometimes printed “too dense” making it possible to use less pigment or more extender in the ink formulation. “ We initially thought we were printing ‘dirty,’ but discovered GTT was simply laying down clean—but incredibly dense—dots. So, we adjusted the inks and plate pressure accordingly.” “In other words, GTT often achieved better print results in our tests on fewer ink stations and with less actual ink,” observed Harvey. “ This was the direct result of a more complete and calmer ink-to-plate transfer. ” The product development team realized that these GTT characteristics required only a few en- graving variations in the width of the ink channels to achieve the total range of conventional hexcell volume/BCM possibilities. Less ink, higher quality, faster runs: what’s next? “Consider- ing the current market shift toward HD (high definition) plate technologies that deliver both crispness and density,” Harvey proclaimed, “It’s critical that ink-delivery tolerances be pre- dictable and reliable. Printers can now say, ‘Don’t manage the anilox variables, remove them.’” EskoArtwork agreed, award- ing GTT its first “Esko HD Flexo Certification” for ink-to-plate transfer surfaces. Advances in “high quality, high definition” printing plate materials and laser engravings enable printers to reach quality heights of offset and gravure. Still, without efficient and precise ink-to-plate transfer, predictability and reduced ink consump- tion are rare outcomes over long printruns. Without cost reduc- tion and long-term predictability in the production process, high definition flexo may be relegated to the upper echelons of high-end customers. With open slalom ink-channel technology, results demonstrate that next-generation ink-to-plate transfer can enable better price, quality, and turnaround. n FOOTNOTES 1. Sun Chemicals controlled and calculated the ink savings dur- ing the 100,000 -meter trial. 2. Environmental Project Management (EPM) of Leeds, UK, measured VOC emissions utilizing industry-standard equipment and methods. About the Author: Jack Fountain is the technical marketing di- rector of Apex Group of Companies. With more than 15 years of marketing consulting experience in the anilox and graphics industry, he now manages flexo trial results for Apex. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Comparison between Conventional anilox “high definition” line screens vs. GTT Size “XS ” Put the power of Pitman to work for you. Packaging that packs a punch. Innovative packaging solutions from Pitman help keep you running at top performance. Pitman represents world-class manufacturers including Dupont, EskoArtwork, 3M and Toray. We provide nationwide coverage and experienced local technical packaging experts to help: • Integrate your systems and optimize production processes by reducing waste, turnaround time and inventory • Deliver higher quality, eye-catching packaging by using industry leading products and technologies • Increase productivity and efficiency by providing training and introducing innovative solutions From workflow, CtP platesetters, photopolymer plates, mounting tapes, anilox rolls, and print sleeves to ink and pressroom supplies, Pitman’s broad portfolio combined with outstanding support and technical expertise, will differentiate your company from the competition while growing your bottom line. Produce more powerful packaging messages. That’s what you get from Pitman. Contact us at: 800 526-5441 x2473 www.pitman.com • www.agfa.com 36 FLEXO deCember 2011 www.flexography.org Slalom Ink Channel GTT Size “XS” AniloX/GTT hiGh definTion line Screen rAnGe compAriSon conventional 60° hexcell Anilox < 900 lpi ———————————————————— 1600 lpi > < 350 L/CM —————————————————— 630 L/CM > Comparison between Conventional anilox “high definition” line sC reens vs. gtt s ize “xs”