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FLEXO Magazine : May 2012
• Solvents • Additives An ink company will provide a Certificate of Analysis on all materials. At a minimum the following information should be provided. • Percent Solids • Viscosity • Color Strength Color matching: In order to provide an effective color matching service, an ink supplier must have intimate knowl- edge of the customer’s printing process. An audit of the printer’s process will provide the ink supplier with the correla- tion required to provide predictable press proofs. A preferred or recommended method is an automated proofing system when possible to eliminate operator variability. Information an ink supplier needs in order to successfully color match include: • Anilox screen count and volume • Printing substrate • Lamination process and secondary substrate if appli- cable • Primer and OPV consideration • Color viewing conditions • Customer spectral data and alignment between measur- ing devices Process colors: Seven-color process printing has become predominant in the package printing and converting industry. This surge in popularity has led to a tighter color tolerance of process colors and conformance from the ink supplier. Process colors should always be single pigmented and transparent. Historically, the process set has been controlled by strength and/or print density. Many printers are now controlling process color with L*a*b certification out of the inkroom to a Delta E < 1.00 . Tolerances are built to provide a balanced set of process colors and repeatable gray balance. High-speed press technology has increased the need to understand the full printing range. Ink companies are now fo- cused on ink transfer and have built the analytical capability to study the transfer of ink from an individual dot to pinholing in the 100 percent solid. Continuous improvement and value added services: It is important to review the ink supplier’s quality philosophy. The quality program adopted by an ink supplier will be custom- ized to the respective manufacturing process and manufac- turing excellence. It is important that an ink company understand and have the resources to support all customer process improvement initiatives. A competent ink company will be familiar and be able to support and participate with the converter on many of the following: • Six Sigma • 5 S and the visual workplace • Rapid improvement or Kaizan events • Lean management • Statistical process control • Key process Improvement Indicators A great ink supplier will display customer focus and will bring to the converter many value added services. With the in- crease in raw material cost it is very important that a partner- ship be developed between the converter and ink supplier, so that common cost reduction goals can be established. Services that an ink supplier might offer in addition to the ink supply are: • Inkroom management • KPI tracking • Ink training to the customer’s employees • Application support and troubleshooting at the customer location • Reformulation and dispenser software • Color match database • VOC reporting • HSE documentation and support • Process improvement initiatives • Comprehensive analytical / technical support In all, an ink supplier should be a vested partner in your printing business every day. 28 FLEXO may 2012 www.flexography.org