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FLEXO Magazine : May 2008
TECHNOLOGIES & TECHNIQUES The Path to Flexo T he world-renowned print media fair, drupa, continues to grow every year with more and more representatives from each of the various print processes and market segments. Flexography, of particular note, has grown in its presence. The 2008 show (May 29 - June 11) will be the largest it's ever been- encompassing 19 halls and 1.8 million sq.ft. of exhibit space. This makes for a daunting task for attendees seeking to find suppliers to a specific print process (flexography, for example). Enter: Flex04all. This independent consortium of flexo indus- try material and machinery manufacturers took to the task of, literally, mapping out flexo at drupa. The result is inserted on the adjacent page, in a flexo-printed map-aptly named Flexo Paths-highlighting the booths of the Flex04all member com- panies. "We believe the Flex04all drupa map is a valuable tool to see some of the most advanced flexo technologies and meet many flexo specialists," stated Ray Bodwell, marketing manager, DuPont Packaging Graphics, whose company participates in the consortium. Friedrich Wolf of DuPont Packaging Graphics GmbH during the press makeready stage. Bodwell noted that a map is not your aver- age flexo end-product. "Flex04all focuses on package printing, but a map is certainly not a typical flexo application." As such, he and his team had to carefully consider the properties of the ma- terials used to create the product. "A typical drupa visitor goes all the way to Düsseldorf to spend a number of days at the fairground. The map will - likely be carried around all day, and from time to time, rest in his shirt or pen pocket. Thus, the substrate had to have extra strength, durability and certainly long life." The material chosen was a Tyvek synthetic paper. This, too, is not frequently used in flexo printing. To make matters more inter- esting, the map required five colors-on both sides. It was an ex- periment the group heartily embraced. "The challenge of printing on such special substrate with a flexographic press, using five plus five colors on each side was an attractive exercise," said Bodwell. Keeping things local to the show in question, the group sought out Papier Mettler in Morbach, Germany. The company is one of the largest printers in Europe, with a history dating back to 1957. It is staffed by flexo experts and considered a European market leader in package printing. "Papier Mettler offered to help and we gladly accepted because of the firm's reputation and ability to manage the challenging requirements. Printing a map with five colors on each side simultaneously was something we had never done before." According to Bodwell, two-sided printing normally requires two days to print. This is because, under traditional circum- stances, 48 hours are needed for the ink to dry before printing the second side. "With flexo printing and the inks we used (supplied by Siegwerk) this was not required," he said. There were also some concerns regarding the printability of the substrate using flexo. "The substrate is very durable, stronger than paper and more versatile than fabric," explained Bodwell. "It is made from high-density polyethylene fibers. It is an extremely lightweight, flexible and smooth material, offering a balance of physical characteristics that combine the best properties of paper, film and cloth." A decision was made to run the map using a wide-web flex- ible packaging press to address the requirements of the substrate. "Printing the map on this type of press allowed us to process the material at low temperatures and tensions," said Bodwell. He stated that, for this substrate, the web temperature had to be kept MAY 2008 www.flexography.org FLEXO