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FLEXO Magazine : October 2012
tains a differentially modulated screening capability which produces regularly spaced “support” dots in fine highlight areas to ensure optimum dot holding and reproduction. This component works better at higher screen rulings—150 LPI and above—and is best suited for use in a standard digital workflow where the natural dot sharpening compliments the differentially modulated screening. To improve solid ink density, both Esko and Kodak have reintroduced a process that has been around since the days of analog platemaking—screening of solids. The idea is to image a very fine screen-pattern across solids, so that the finished plates will have a gravure-like pattern of cells imaged into the surface, and therefore produce solid colors with greater density and reduced pinholing. In a standard digital workflow, the oxygen effect tends to neutralize the effect of screening, but in the newer “oxygen free” plate exposure workflows, the solid screening is main- tained and the desired result is achieved. The Kodak imple- mentation is called “DigiCap” and is compatible with the Flexcel workflow. The Esko version is called “Pixel +” and will work with DuPont DigiFlow, MacDermid LUX or Flint NExT. PLATE OPTIONS Many will recall that, within the world of analog plates, rub- ber plates were the reference standard for high ink transfer plates, until the introduction of modified surface photopolymer plates. These “capped” plates had a textured surface layer designed to carry more ink and produce solid ink densities similar to those achievable with rubber plates. DuPont PLS and EXL, as well as MacDermid EPIC, are a few examples of capped analog plates. When the industry went digital, modified surfaces fell out of favor somewhat. The oxygen effect associated with digital plates could diminish the effectiveness of capping layers and the random nature of the texture produced by the capping layer was somewhat inconsistent with the outcome and repeatability as- sociated with digital plates. For many years, MacDermid digital Epic was the only capped digital plate available. More recently, DuPont has introduced the Performance Series of digital plates—DSP for solvent process workflows and DFP for Cyrel® FAST workflows. These modified surface plates have a surface design that has been engineered to replicate the performance of traditional analog capping layers, while maintaining the high resolution and consistency long associ- ated with digital plates. Like digital Epic, DSP and DFP are designed for use in a standard digital workflow and should not require either customized screening programs or modified plate exposure conditions to achieve maximum performance. Which is best for your company? When you add up the different workflow, imaging and plate options that are avail- able today, you quickly realize that there is an unmanageably large number of combinations. No trade shop/pre media services company can afford to invest in all of the different workflow options nor, can any printer afford to test every possibility on press to determine what works best. So which option is likely to work best for you? The chart at the bottom of page 34 will serve as a basic guideline for combinations that have been shown to perform well in different segments, and will provide you with a starting point for your tests. In addition, you should also work closely with your prepress and manufacturing partners to make sure that you’re getting the latest information. Flexography ’s great advantage is its very flexibility. The wide variety of available press types, substrates, inks and ink meter- ing systems, and plates means that flexographers can satisfy virtually any customer need. However, we must be careful not to lose sight of the fact that flexography is a printing system. The extensive array of new digital options discussed in this ar- ticle may help you to achieve higher print quality, but they may also have an impact on your printing system. Your objective should be to find the most simple and re- peatable digital prepress workflow that simultaneously allows you to satisfy your customer’s requirements around quality, service and price; while simultaneously satisfying your own needs around consistency and productivity. When that hap- pens, everybody wins. n About the Authors: Ray Bodwell has been active in flexogra- phy since the late 1970s, and is North American marketing manager for DuPont Packaging Graphics. Additional infor- mation regarding the technologies discussed in this article can be found at www.cyrel.com or feel free to contact Ray directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Mark Mazur has worked for DuPont for 30 years; joining the Cyrel® business in 1989. He is currently in the R & D organi- zation working on next generation printing plates. Mark is a frequent speaker at industry events, and in 2009 was inducted in the FTA Hall of Fame. Feel free to contact Mark directly at email@example.com. A visual inspection to confirm a uniform minimum dot size should be used whenever testing high-resolution screening programs, such as HD Flexo. 36 FLEXO october 2012 www.flexography.org The future of flexo is available today with the newest prepress equipment, materials and software from Anderson & Vreeland. The latest equipment includes: - EskoArtwork digital imagers equipped with HD Flexo. - Direct engraving systems for flexo and dry-offset from Stork Prints. - DigiFlex inkjet computer-to-plate systems. - Luscher direct expose UV laser devices. - Multi-function water-wash & eco-friendly solvent wash plate processors. Advanced new materials from industry leaders including 3M, Flint Group and Toyobo, as well as AVCE direct engraving material, are all available from Anderson & Vreeland. Equipment and materials are complemented by the newest prepress software from EskoArtwork and color management solutions from EskoArtwork, GMG and EFI that marry well with proofing and prototyping devices from Epson and Roland. For the past 50 years we have introduced new products and technologies that have continually improved flexo plate quality and efficiency while improving sustainability. In the early days it was matrix and rubber. Today it is in-the-round technology and direct laser engraving. Stay tuned for what the future holds. The Future of Flexo. Today. theDiffe rence! Experience 866.282.7697 | fax 800.223.6869 | www.AndersonVreeland.com | info@AndVre.com