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FLEXO Magazine : June 2012
pable of producing, such as fine tonal elements, have moved to high quality flexo print. Equipment manufacturers, consumable suppliers, graphic houses and platemakers are now actively promoting HD advancements, particularly within HD plate technology. While better press technology, CTP, polymers and inks have all played their part, the heart of the press remains the anilox roll. Without its technical developments, all the other components would not see the real benefits within the printing process. SPECIFICATIONS & SCREENS For example, conventional and hybrid screens, and even a combination screen on the same plate; moving printers from 100 lpi to 150 lpi or even 200 lpi, doesn’t mean the quality will be better. As a matter of fact, it could actually cause more problems. Do printers today really understand the benefits and challenges that this superior plate and higher plate screen technology give them? Are the anilox choices of today correct for finer highlight dots that run with solids or in fact highlight dots that are less than 1 percent with no support? The anilox specification always needs to be considered be- fore moving to higher screens. There is no question that CTP technology has raised the bar in what is achievable today in terms of plate technology. However, independent market re- search tells us that 45 percent of the global marketplace has anilox rolls incorrectly specified for CTP plate technology of plates higher than 120 lpi. And incredibly, as we push harder with HD printing, 98 percent of the global market have anilox technology incorrectly specified for printing this technology of 150 lpi and higher. In 2011, Pamarco linked the global investment of 500W multi-hit laser technology with new screening software. This allowed the company to improve on the already successful EFloTM design, not only from a shape wall perspective cell, but more importantly change the inner dimensions of the con- struction of the cell. This is called Bitmap Cell Technology. Basically, it entails taking the shape of the cell and apply a unique bitmap file to the cell shape. This bitmap file is made up of 255 shades from white to black, in a process similar to what prepress companies use when making their digital prepress files. Each pixel deter- mines the laser spot size and how that laser engraves the inner profiles of the cell shape. It required considerable investment in research and development, given the need for evaluating the inner workings of the cell, the ink release, optimum angle and how clean the cell stays open. PRINTEd ON F&K 10 COlOR uSINg SAmE INK mIx 800lpi 2.4 BCM Traditional 60 Degree Anilox 1200 lpi 2.2 BCM EFlo-HDTM Anilox C 1.2 1.5 M 1.15 1.45 Y 0.9 1.2 K 1.35 1.7 All of these variables are important key factors to a printer who is looking to print by the numbers, or in other words, the correct density number; for example 1.70 black running down the gray scale to zero producing offset and gravure quality. Each bitmap file uses a different pixel per inch resolution for the highest quality profile and inner dynamics of the cell. HD Flexo has taken problematic designs (such as flesh tones) and raised the bar in tonal reproduction using new screening techniques and finer dots on the printing plates. Bitmap cell technology applied in manufacturing the anilox roll employ a similar process to that used by prepress technicians in constructing digital files. Each pixel determines the laser spot size and how the inner profile of the cell shape is engraved. 62 FLEXO junE 2012 www.flexography.org