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FLEXO Magazine : January 2013
is the customer. Despite the improvements we have made as flexographers, some projects that have a seemingly good match to the proof are rejected. Furthermore, when the alter- native customer representative is presented with the press match at the second run, it’s not uncommon to hear “I would have signed off on the first press match.” From a pragmatic standpoint, if you showed the press to proof match to 10 individuals; with some accepting the match, some rejecting, who would be correct? The answer: Color is strictly a personal perception. THEORY & EDUCATION So, the challenge is in educating and working with the customer representatives to try to develop an understanding of color theory—at least a general one. We all know that the brain is good at comparing color however bad at remember- ing color. In our daily lives, we encounter situations where we observe differences in color. For example: have you ever noticed when buying a televi- sion set that the units on display often have different color? Which one displays the right or most accurate color? (Of course it’s the one you purchase and view at home!) In the world of flexography, we can’t tell which of the packages on the store shelf did not match the proof, we only know there is a problem when the color on one package does not match the color on the package beside it. This realization is very difficult to address with our respec- tive customers, however, if we persevere, we may make life on press a little easier for us all. The biggest improvement we have made is to get on board with color management. Defining, measuring and storing color data has a hidden benefit when it comes to the customer — it takes away at least some of the subjectiveness of color which is sometimes abused. As part of the approach mentioned above—educat- ing the customer—we can use our scientific measurements of color to correlate the job to the customer and his or her expectations. This, however, is a slow and arduous process because some customers just don’t want to hear it! INNOVATION & ACCEPTANCE There are several color approval solutions available on- line. They all bring value and reduced overall costs in the packaging process to the customer. Unfortunately, just like many innovative technologies, they take time to gain accep- tance in an industry where subjectiveness is the rule. Color is not going to become any less complex in the near or distant future. The flexo industry continues the battle by becom- ing more disciplined with color definition and measurement on press, while utilizing the plethora of color solutions being offered. Unfortunately, flexography still has a big problem: its versatility. Because we have the ability to print on multiple substrates (film, pressure sensitive labels, board, corrugated liner, etc.) using multiple ink systems (water-based, solvent, UV), color is more difficult to manage. I am sure you have been given the challenge to match a customers’ target that was printed on a much different substrate, using a completely different ink system. With this versatility comes the lack of standardization for color and the ability to apply it across the various flexo segments of the packaging industry. We do have Flexographic Image Reproduction Specifica- tions and Tolerances (FIRST) and we are making headway. Litho, with fewer substrates and ink standards, has Specifica- tions for Web Offset Publications (SWOP), General Require- ments for Applications in Commercial Offset Lithography (GRACol), which were the early pioneers for introducing standards and accepting them industry wide. The common denominator that we have with litho and gravure is the complexity of color and how to manage or mini- mize its affect on the printing/converting process. By having our print process in control, with all specifica- tions and tolerances met, we can confidently predict our press to proof match. In addition, we can delicately address, with our customers the “gray area” of color with some strong points of reason. Hopefully they won’t hold the press down for too long! n About the Author: Greg Platt is regional sales manager, Southern Graphic Systems, Canada. He is based in Toronto. Platt is also the past president of GMF Flexo and current chairman of Flexographic Technical Associa- tion Board of Directors. He is recognized as an expert in prepress systems and proce- dures. Platt has also served as chair of FTA’s Excellence in Flexography Awards Commit- tee. He sits on FFTA’s Board of Trustees. www.flexography.org january 2013 FLEXO 59