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FLEXO Magazine : January 2013
One product that has had an impact on all areas of the flexo industry is inkjet printing. Watch for the growth of inkjet in the following four categories: Proofing and Color Management: Inkjet, as we know, has made huge leaps and bounds in the proofing and color management arenas; becoming the most popular, consistent, and predictable way to generate color-managed and imposition proofs. Watch for more companies to add an affordable inkjet solution to their portfolio. Inkjet manufacturers have also added silver and white inks in some devices, so proofs can be made with full color range and special inks. Film Negatives & Positives: Inkjet has also been able to help those segments of our market that rely heavily on film solutions. The liquid corrugated platemaking, metal engraving, and screen-printing markets have adopted inkjet film to replace their costly imagesetter film. Making inkjet films allow those companies to remove the large equipment and chemicals associated with conventional film, and repurpose dark rooms as more usable workspaces. High Speed Digital Printing: Currently available for small format digital printing, and soon to be available for wide format, a new head and engine technology has come to market containing a stationary inkjet head. Because the head of the unit does not move, these units allow for incredible output speed—12 inches per second! These units also provide all the best features of digital print including variable data and roll-to-roll operation. Digital Platemaking: Standard digital platemaking requires an ablation laser and plate material that comes complete with a mask applied to the surface of the plate material. A new approach, brought to North America this year, is the ability to inkjet a negative directly onto the surface of an analog plate material. The plate material is first laminated with a primer sheet—when specialty ink hits the primed plate material, the ink freezes into a solid and produces a negative on the surface of the plate. Other noteworthy technologies to watch in 2013: Direct UV lasers: Secure an image onto an analog plate directly with a UV curing laser. No ablation, no digital mask—just instant cure from a direct UV laser source. Today ’s available UV exposure materials include dry offset, metal decorating, and other specialty Lüscher’s Multi DX combines its CTP and CTS technology to create what it has termed Computer-to-Exposure, or CTX. The flatbed machine, available with UV and/or thermal laser diodes, can image plates or screens up to a maximum size of 800 x 600 mm and can also image plates based on rigid materials, such as steel and aluminium, up to 50 mm thick. 42 FLEXO janUary 2013 www.flexography.org Injet proofers, including these models from roland and Epson, are considered essential color management and prototyping tools.