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FLEXO Magazine : January 2008
. ... .. . I ' I. . J .. . .1 I .... ... . 'F1IIII . ... .. . I ' I I. '" J . I .... as shear lunacy. However, with today's advancement in not only anilox engrav- ing technology but advancement across the board, it is possible to accomplish print fidelity at 17Slpi and 200lpi using high strength, water-based and UV inks. New engraving technologies bring about new benefits to the printing pro- cess, but also require adjustments in other areas. Proper anilox cleaning pro- cedures become more important at the higher engraving specifications. Also, at each step up in polymer lpi, possibility However, today's anilox engraving ad- vancements now make it possible to push the printing envelope and achieve unprecedented results. By hitting the solid ink density targets at a 9 to 1 ratio of the anilox to the polymer minimum dot, results are clean, with crisp tonal reproduction. This combination also en- ables a finer quality of four-color process printing. This is especially true when the graph- ic image is of a photographic quality with subtle, detailed tonal ranges. As alluded in most cases a person or persons will need to be assigned to that task. On press and off press practices will have to be adopted. Thankfully, there are a variety of anilox cleaning technologies available in today's industry. It is worth testing out which cleaning technology will work for your anilox and ink system. Once cleaning procedures have been es- tablished, along with the procedures for hitting solid ink density targets, protocols for bringing jobs to and from the press have to be defined and followed. Only for dot gain and for Udirty print" due to dot bridging becomes magnified. At this level of printing, defined procedures and protocols are imperative. After all, the diameter of the minimum polymer dots are considerably smaller. Not to mention, the diameter of the anilox cell opening has also shrunk. Polymer dots of 17Slpi for a I-percent dot should be 16 microns in diameter. The 2-percent dot diameter should be 22 microns and the 3-percent dots should be 28 microns. Comparatively, the anilox cell opening should be less than the diameter of the dot. At 1,600 cells per inch, the diameter of the cell opening is only 12 microns. Maintaining a smaller cell-opening diameter to the polymer diameter will help to minimize the print issue of dot bridging or Udirty print". The 1,600 cells per inch anilox engraving to the minimum I-percent dot polymer of 17Slpi is a ratio 9 to l. This ratio is well above what has tra- ditionally been used and in the past, and technologically was not possible. - FLEXO JANUARY FIGURE 3. to earlier, along with the benefits come adjustments. Due to the tighter anilox engraving specifications and the smaller cell openings at a specification of 1,600 cells per inch, on press and especially off press cleaning procedures must be part of the daily standard operating proce- dures. Reviewing the range of solid ink densities achieved with a variation of .2Sbcm, the importance of keeping the aniloxes clean becomes very apparent. Summarizing, if your goal is to pro- duce high-end, four-color process work, the anilox engraving technology is here, along with additional advancements in inks, polymer, stickyback and presses. Making this transition however, will require changes and adjustments on your part. Going to the edge and push- ing the envelope of any area is never a plug-and-play transition. Moving into high-end flexography with the new en- graving anilox technologies will require detailed protocols, disciplined procedures and consistent practices. A procedure for anilox maintenance will be required and 2008 www.flexography.org then will the results be great. This level of flexographic print reproduction is not for everybody and will require discipline and determination. Using the latest advancement in anilox engraving tech- nologies for high-end, four-color process printing can give you a competitive edge and enable the break through into a niche that will be to your benefit. . ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alexander James is a technical manager for Harper GraphicSolutions, a division of Harper Corporation of America, Charlotte, NC. He has a Master of Science degree in graphic communications from Clemson University and more than 16 years of experience in the graphics industry. James presented at major industry relatedforums and has had numerous articles published. He travels globally helping companies resolve their wide- and narrow-web flexographic work- flow challenges.