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FLEXO Magazine : February 2008
PLANTS & PROCESSES From a workflow standpoint, Rose noted an increased use in digital proof- ing solutions. "We are doing research to validate the credibility of digital proof- ing. Printers are used to working with an analogue proof, and digital proofers have some shortcomings, especially regarding flexo. There is a learning curve there. Even if you have digital proofing in your own facility, you have some development work to determine things like where the win- dow will fall and how the white shows up." "There are two other aspects of proof- ing that we do," added Robb Frimming, print services director at Schawk. "One is soft proofing, in which you have a calibrat- ed screen. Commercial has moved that way, but there are some challenges with packaging. We are looking into different options trying to determine whether or not this is viable. Another is sales samples and comping. We are doing a lot more of that digitally as well. We are also doing comps in house. This eliminates the need for plates and pressruns in most cases, as they are built within the color space for flexo." A likely response to all this reliance on electronic solutions might be to ask if the increased consumption of power counteracts the benefits of reducing waste. "I've always wondered about that too," admitted Frimming. "But we have these computers running anyway, and are using those to communicate. In addition, we are reducing travel by video conferencing and starting to eliminate printing paychecks as well." Rose stated, "Reduction of paper, in and of itself, isn't a 100-percent savings of the energy required to produce paper. The off-set of using computers more, though, is quite minimal when compared to the amount of energy needed to make paper. So, while there is a tradeoff, it's not sig- nificant at all. Overall there is a major net gain." HELPING HANDS Frimming explained that part of a sus- tainable prepress house's job is also to assist its clients in reaching their sustain- ability goals. "Our print services teams are being used to help reduce waste in our clients' operations. We are helping them to become more efficient, use less sub- strate, and set up systems that will create products that will not get rejected. These systems establish acceptable parameters so that printers can essentially proof a job themselves and reduce the chances of re- jection. It includes all the usual checks and sets up tolerances, quantifying the clients' acceptability in a way that printers can check themselves. We have not measured the impact on the environment just yet, but more efficiency and less waste has to have a positive impact." For printers/converters doing prepress in-house, the x-factors remain the same. "They have the same challenges as the rest of us," said Rose. "The majority of printers are not creating the prepress files, they are just burning plates. It will be the consumer products companies that will drive the soft proofing and other initiatives."