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FLEXO Magazine : August 2012
printing press and the process are most important to increase overall competitiveness?" Converters' demands haven't changed. Their mindset has simply evolved as they 've come to view the process, not just the press, as critical to performance. Flexo printing now goes hand-in-hand with prepress to enhance the printing process. In order to support this argument, let's take a journey in the time machine, like Jules Verne, and see the interaction between flexo presses and prepress. DYNAMICS FOR CHANGE In the early years, plates were rubber and presses were stack type. Quality was totally fulfilled by spot colors (ready- mixed ink color to produce a particular tone), but it changed in 1960 when DuPont launched the photopolymer printing plate. Combining this technology with new improvements coming from the photographic industry, which began to copy images in cromogenia, gave way to the possibility of printing with CMYK combination, instead of spot color, to create the continuous tone. At this point, the mechanical requirements had to in- crease immensely to achieve the new quality. Between 1961and1966, machine manufacturers developed the Cen- tral Impression concept. It was not until the 1970s that color management struck again. CMYK and spot colors were linked. Six years later, Adobe created PostscCript, the first file to store graphic in- formation, so images could be printed with more details and colors. By 1984, eight-color flexo CI presses had arrived and they were fast becoming the norm. In ensuing years, the demand for more colorful packages was increasing, due to consumer product company calls for "differentiation of products on the shelf." What impact did CPCs persistence have on the press? Quick changeover. As we entered the 1990s, press manufacturers started to launch sleeve systems and prepress/plate companies were hard at work creating the digital photopolymer (CDI) plate, which was introduced in 1995. To respond to it, Adobe had to improve the PostScript to a new format, the Portable Docu- ment File (PDF). With the new century, a new color combination appeared: the heptacromie (CMYK+RGB). It was the first that pays at- tention to the decreasing colors on the jobs. Nowadays, the answer to the above mentioned question, "Which characteristics, on the printing press and process, are most important to increasing overall competitiveness?", is changing once again. The right features are those that position the converter as a forerunner in the market, using the right technology to achieve highest quality printing with no defects. In other words, customers expect the best combination between new prepress improvements and latest press technologies, taking into account that digital technology is the way to go. www.flexography.org AUGUST 2012 FLEXO 39