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FLEXO Magazine : January 2012
Shadle says. “I see variations across the board with other companies—and some that have contacted me; inquiring about how we got this done.” In addition to improved quality, the creative director also finds that he has more time for valued-added tasks now that the color control program is underway. Instead of fielding up to seven color-related complaints a week internally, he may only have to handle one color-matching issue a month. Shadle discovered that with a number of corrugators span- ning four states, using perhaps a dozen ink suppliers with dif- ferent formulations that, “There are a dozen different opinions on what PMS 186 red is.” PROGRAM PARTNERS To remove opinion from the process, he turned to X-Rite Inc. , a Grand Rapids, MI-based designer and manufacturer of color measurement equipment. On the technical side of formulations and printing processes, he found help through BCM Inks in Cincinnati, OH and CSW Inc. in Rochester, NY. When Shop-Vac contracted BCM to aid the color control program, BCM’s initial question was whether the air-moving equipment company was using X-Rite. Shadle replied, “No, we have some bright lights here and that’s about the best way we have to judge color for packaging.” BCM, which specializes in formulating high intensity, water-based flexographic inks for printing in the corrugated industry, recommended that Shop-Vac use an X-Rite spectro- photometer to precisely measure color of random samples of packaging shipments. Shop-Vac decided on spectropho- tometer that is well suited for ink room and quality control applications and can be calibrated over the Internet using set standards and special software. BCM then visited all of Shop-Vac’s corrugated vendors to get samples of their packaging liners and developed stan- dards that included formulas and information that any ink supplier would need to replicate specific colors. To make the color control process more robust, BCM suggested that the vendors also obtain spectrophotometers. “ We had to take the guesswork out and let the machines do the work for us,” Shadle recalled. “I told the vendors that I wasn’t going to force them to purchase color-gauging equip- ment, but if they didn’t have the equipment, it was going to be a crap shoot.” A majority of the dozen vendors now have some kind of color measurement equipment. Representatives from the manufacturer thoroughly explained and demonstrat- ed the color-gauging equipment, passing along the names of customers that were using the instruments and software for similar applications. Shop-Vac also has developed a close relationship with City Stamp Works (CSW), which provides polymer-printing plates and cutting dies for suppliers of corrugated packaging. “I’ve been dealing with CSW for almost 20 years as an essential C M Y CM MY CY CMY K LEC_Flexo_30th.pdf 1 3/10/11 4:59 PM www.flexography.org january 2012 FLEXO 13