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FLEXO Magazine : July 2012
time consuming and costly process of collecting redundant data because of a small change to the job parameters. The system allows for ink rotation changes, ink substitution and dynamic profile re-calculation on the fly. In many cases, the relevant measurement data can be gathered from control patches included in actual production runs. Custom spec- tral ink libraries can be easily created and, from this library, unlimited combinations of press/ink/media combinations can be quickly modeled. Too good to be true? Easy, too? “Can someone get this elephant off of my back?” The scientific concept has been kicking around the color management world for more than 10 years, but the funda- mental research to develop the underlying mathematics was missing. Many organizations have invested research in the area, only to come up short of the objective. Many people working on this problem concluded that the task was impos- sible or too expensive to achieve. It now appears that this breakthrough technology is within grasp. What does this mean to the packaging industry? Globally, current press fingerprinting within flexo, offset and gravure packaging printing incurs millions of dollars of expenses every year. This high cost often yields poor re- sults, thus raising costs even further. If the price of customer satisfaction erosion and re-work is factored in, the actual bottom line impact of this elephant is many millions of dollars annually. The new technology improves the quality of the final result, while greatly reducing fingerprinting costs. As spectral ink databases are created, the process pays recurring dividends because new profiles are made from ex- isting measurement data. Measurement of actual production run patches improves the database further and the process becomes self correcting over time. It is even possible to have ‘dynamic’ profiles created from the named spot channels within a PDF file—on the fly! This technology could have a profound effect on the entire packaging supply chain. NEXT STEP—CUT SOME INK Once the ability to predict overprint behavior is available, the next step will be for producers of packag- ing to eliminate inks not needed, usually C, M, Y or K. This means they ’ll be achieving accept- able gamut through the use of mostly line colors on press. This will allow prepress companies and converters to eliminate colors within a job, without changing its ap- pearance, reducing the press stations needed, or compromising the line colors required. Although this is being done today, the creation of this type of artwork is very expensive and is often created with trial and error methods. As better ways of producing these separations evolve, the overall reduction of inks on press will further reduce costs across the entire supply chain. SEVEN COLOR GAMUT? Standardized extended gamut printing is included within this new technology, yet it is uncertain that this type of printing process will ever become widespread, due to the rigors of process control required. In the “hex” model, line colors are made from the existing seven process inks, not customer specific line colors. In this scenario, keeping the customers’ line colors within accept- able tolerances requires operating the entire seven color printing process under 3 Delta E average, which is very dif- ficult for flexo and almost impossible for offset. This type of process has been successfully demonstrated in wide web snack foods (sleeve based flexo), but these examples are the exception, rather than the rule. End users will likely opt for more line colors and less process colors to achieve optimal brand color accuracy while reducing total printing stations required. The elephant in the room is larger than most people understand. This elephant has been ignored, due to lack of core technology to address the problem. Packaging provid- ers struggle with this problem on a daily basis, burning profit margin in makeready and waste every day. The new technol- ogy will also help to identify various process control problems, including variability of the ink formulas, dot gain, trapping, squeeze, line screen, plate dot properties, etc. This will make the overall process more reliable, and new methods of pack- age design will become possible. Prepress will undergo significant re-tooling for proofing, as well as color separation. Decreased production costs and in- creased accuracy will drive adoption across the supply chain. CPCs are already engaged to use this technology to improve standardization across multiple prepress and converting vendors. As usual, standardization will likely drive costs down and, eventually, margins too. Those companies that assimilate this new technology quickly can improve margins and use these gains to improve their process control and company culture in preparation of the more streamlined supply chain of tomorrow. n About the Author: Marc Welch, director of strategic accounts at GMG Americas has been employed in graphic arts for more than 40 years—the first 20 years in print production and, since then, in technology sales and marketing for a number of graphic arts companies. Marc possesses a unique combination of the abilities to assimilate new technology and new ideas. GMG’s Open Color Proofing System incorporates many of the points made in this article in its list of features. Splash A visual communication company... Providing Premedia Services and FLEXCEL NX Plates Call us! We will help you take your print quality to the next level. 630.230.5777 Kodak SERVICES • Premedia Services • Packaging Expertise • Flexographic Plates • Brand Management • Digital Asset Management • File Distribution • Large Format Digital Printing • Creative Execution • Commercial Photography Spice up your Flexo! Revolutionary Plate Technology Quality Benefits • Print Gravure/Offset quality on your Flexo press -Brand consistency across various printing processes • Plate surface texturing -Significantly higher ink densities -Increased print gamut • Resolution up to 10,000 dpi • Enhanced detail VIA higher line screens • Take your highlights down to .4% -Print all 256 levels of grey -Smoother gradients/better fades Production Efficiencies • Run lengths up to 4X longer than NON-flat top dots • Consistency between multiple positions across the web • Quicker make-ready (Less waste) Flat tops reduce the dot gain related to inconsistent pressure. Splash Graphics, Inc. 7001 S. Adams St | Willowbrook, IL 60527 www. splash-graphics.com 630.230.5777 OUR DOTS END HERE ! WHERE DOES THIS DOT END? (DEPENDS ON PRESSURE) Splash’s prepress expertise coupled with award winning plate technology, will “spice up” your Flexo printing. 60 FLEXO july 2012 www.flexography.org