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FLEXO Magazine : January 2013
trolled. The volume of ink isn’t important; it’s the production of a measurable, color-matching SID. With a more controlled SID offering smooth solids and good highlights, more than 75 percent of all Pantone colors can be created by a closely managed set of CMYK inks on the substrate, with an accu- racy below 3 ∆E. Adding O, G, and B inks to a pressrun, adds another 15 percent of the spot colors and delivers roughly 90 percent of the Pantone book. Many printers are finally understanding that we need to use restraint about how much ink we put on a job, determine the exact amount of plate screening and use the available imaging techniques that offer the optimum SID that is con- sistent and reliable. WHERE’S THE PROOF? Along with better screening and a wider gamut comes the burden of the proof to be more accurate. With a more sophis- ticated press result must come a more sophisticated proof. The proof is intended to represent—not exceed—what the press will deliver, because this unfairly forces the press opera- tor to jump through hoops trying to match an unrealistic proof. However, now with better flexo technology, the quality of the proof is the natural follow-up question. With more sophisticat- ed printing as a result of better screening and wider gamut, there could be a role reversal. People are talking about upgrading proofing to be able to match the press. We need to make certain that we can still send the customer a representative sample of the press. This means high-resolution inkjet printers, and transfers of better quality files. Print engine companies are working to extend the quality and gamut of their printers. At the same time, color experts must be able to offer print drivers to take advantage of all of these print devices. It is up to the industry to prioritize the quality of proofs. SOARING SLEEVE USE? Perhaps I am still more optimistic than others, but a notable increase in the use of sleeves is coming—in my opinion, soon- er rather than later. We continue to talk with printers about sleeves. Esko and other suppliers are developing and offering all the software, equipment, materials and tools needed for good sleeve making. The expanded use of sleeves has all to do with quality or cost. As long as sleeves cost prohibitively more than plates, their adoption will always struggle. If they are close to the cost of plates, their use will take over. It’s no surprise. They offer more print space on the substrate and better use of repeats. And, with a single cut, the press can run faster than with plates. So, between extending gamut with better screening, devel- oping proofing that is commensurate with this increased print quality, and keeping an eye on sleeves, that is enough to keep us all busy. n About the Author: Ian Hole is vice president/ market development of Esko. The proof is intended to represent what the press will deliver. www.flexography.org january 2013 FLEXO 49