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FLEXO Magazine : May 2013
Technologies & Techniques The Gold Standard Proofing for extended gamut Print By Kevin Bourquin As brand owners continue to face challenges in the marketplace to compete for shelf space and consum- er attention, they have created demand for packaging converters to deliver more affordable flexible packaging that pushes quality toward that of gravure. By implementing an expanded gamut program, many converters have delivered high quality flexo with shorter runs, reduced supply chain inventory, and given nimbleness to brand owners to meet their ever-changing customer demand. While the core separation technology for extended gamut has been around for many years, it has not been widely accepted by brand owners until recently. Over the last 10 years, the flexo market has gone through somewhat of a renaissance. Press technology has allowed tighter registration, faster setups, and less process variability. Anilox roll manufacturers have delivered improved ink meter- ing systems. Plate vendors have delivered more consistent and reliable plates. As these technologies merged in the marketplace, brand owners became steadily convinced that an expanded gamut system served their product portfolio well. There was how- ever, one missing piece to the puzzle — predictability of the proofing system. GENERATING THE PROOF When preparing a typical proof for conventional separations, prepress operators and converters often work together supply- ing an accurate proof for process color images and vector art PRESS TO PROOF PROTOCOL • Lack of predictability of extended gamut proofing systems has limited appeal to brand owners • Enhancements to the proofing system, like device link profiles and improved output device gamuts, have reduced time and cost for the color management system • Advancements, such as the option to proof on the actual substrate instead of paper, give the brand owner an even better idea of the look and feel of the finished package • New technological developments, like flat top dot plates, further reduce variability on press, while pushing the expanded gamut further with improved solid ink laydown Lowest tint in patch is 5% Lowest tint in ramp is 10% Typical software is created for litho and used for flexo. Highlights are smoothed to zero and are not represented on the proof accurately. 38 FLeXO may 2013 www.flexography.org