by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
FLEXO Magazine : February 2013
ogy in 2012, it seemed fitting that the evaluation look at true production jobs, rather than demo work. It had already been established that flexo could hold up well to the other process- es. Project FOG’D planners decided that we wanted printers to come to the FTA Forum in San Antonio and show work that they are paid for on a daily basis, and talk about how the pro- cesses compete in production. When it comes down to it, flexo has to be able to compete in quality and economics. So, we began the study for FOG’D 2012: Reality Flexo. The most obvious change was the inclusion of ‘D’, digital printing. FOG’D 2012: Reality Flexo looked to showcase real produc- tion jobs printed both flexo as well as offset, gravure, or digi- tal. Rather than focusing on ratings and winners and losers, we looked forward to an educational discussion based on the submitted print samples. We located six different printers throughout the Americas and Europe, who we considered high quality printers who — except for Ultra Flex, who offers gravure printing through a partner relationship — often print the same items (or similar items) in both flexo and another process. Participants supplied 1,000 samples of an item printed flexo and another 1,000 samples of the same item (or a similar item) printed offset, gravure, or digital. Samples were shared among all of the participants at the FTA Forum. And, we offered an objective viewpoint from each printer — in most cases personally presented by a representative of the company — as to what technologies allowed flexo to catch up to their other process(es), and what economic or business pressures also came into play. This was not a true A/B test of the real production print samples as much as it was a snapshot to learn how to move forward. It should be noted that each printer had no motiva- tion to present flexo print quality as either better or worse than the competing process. These printers make a living offer- ing exceptional printing, and the production runs should be considered best efforts. The samples and overview of each printer offered a very helpful, real world viewpoint of where flexo competes around the world. WHAT WAS LEARNED? Flexo has demonstrated in these real-world production situ- ations that it is the equivalent of offset, gravure, and digital. While we wanted to show quality, we did not feel the need to rate it, because printers have already made that decision by investing in flexo. Yet, the samples we have offered here certainly support the decision many of these printers have made that flexo can compete with just about any process (pages 62-69). This study proved that flexo looks as good or better from arm’s length than the other print technologies. Today, you now need a magnifying glass to see the difference. Indeed, many times printers considered flexo to be the superior technology. But a print method is not chosen on quality alone. Accord- ing to this group of printers, flexo’s inexpensive prepress — and press — costs make it a very competitive alternative to offset and gravure, even on long runs! To the one printer who compared flexo to offset and digital there is a very defined strategy. Digital prints the smaller jobs, flexo prints the mid- range jobs, and gravure is reserved for the longer runs. Yet, like any print process, flexo is not perfect and print- ers are always trying to improve on their work. Most of these printers have recently invested in HD Flexo to offer highlights down to substrate zero and open, smooth shadows, along with finer detail. Many are also experimenting with solutions for expanded gamut printing. Whether or not this results in greater use of economical multi-color process printing replac- ing brand inks, or if it is offered to deliver more striking graph- ics, the preliminary results are encouraging. Unlike 11 years ago, we can look at flexo as a much more accepted print process — with unquestioned quality and economic benefits. Future developments should only add to that perception. n About the Author: Mark Samworth, consultant, Color Excel- lence for Esko, began his career with DuPont, where he held numerous positions in the areas of flexographic plates and electronic imaging. Mark joined EskoArtwork in 1997 and is currently focused on consulting in screening, calibration, G7, color management, and expanded gamut. He holds 10 patents in digital imaging – includ- ing FlexoCal, Hybrid Screening, Plate Cell Patterning, Concentric Screening, Equinox expanded gamut technology, and PressSync. He has authored numerous articles in the industry ’s major trade publi- cations and presented many papers at the industry ’s major trade forums. In May of 2011, Mark was inducted as the 49th member of the FTA Hall of Fame. Mark received his Bachelor’s in Printing Science from RIT and his Master’s in Business Administration from the Univer- sity of Delaware. He lives in Wilmington, DE with his wife, two teenage daughters, and Chesapeake Bay Retriever. www.flexography.org february 2013 FLEXO 61 ultra flex