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FLEXO Magazine : May 2013
29. The late 1980s ushered in the era of the Macintosh FX comput- ers, creating original artwork with a keyboard and a mouse 30. Conventional cameras and typesetting were eliminated 31. Distortion devices were eliminated; replaced by Mac software 1990s 32. The first prepress software programs included Aldus Freehand, Aldus PageMaker, Adobe Illlustrator and Adobe Photoshop 33. Step and repeat machines were phased out 34. The Mac outputs were directed to paper and then incorporated into conventional artboards 35. Conventional artwork eventually diminished as the processing speed of computers increased and the software became more versatile and applicable to packaging. Electronic imaging departments were forced to expand 36. Mechanical prepress film strippers were replaced by Mac operators 37. In 1992, Agfa introduced Select Set 5000. This was a pivotal point in the digital evolution. Now a computer file could be elec- tronically transferred to film with an acceptable level of quality 38. Stripping functions, including four-color retouching, could now be performed on a Mac with the appropriate software. 39. Many of the negatives generated from Mac stripping and retouching required a second, analog generation as they became stripped or stepped into final plating films 40. As the Mac gained momentum, complementary systems became available. Rampage software allowed for the output of true round dots, as well as 7 1/2° flexo screen rotations 41. The Rampage RIP allowed for dot gain compensation curves and flexo distortions that could be applied on output of film instead of to the electronic file 42. Screen USA introduced the Taiga System, which more closely followed lithographic procedures and could be used for trap- ping, stepping and imposition 43. PCC employed its own unique trapping and screening tech- niques to better meet the needs of packaging and flexo 44. All three systems utilized 1-up Mac generated eps files, which after stepping, were sent to the Avantra 44 for output 45. The Avantra 44 permitted the output of files directly from the Mac through its own Agfa RIP 46. For large format films, the Barco Megasetter and Gigasetter were the output solutions 47. Throughout this evolution of electronic imaging, the output was still film, but digital was right around the corner 48. In regard to plating, magnesium etching machines with nitric acid were eliminated 49. Rubber plate molding presses had gradually been phased out 50. In the 1990s, photopolymer plates had become the predomi- nant choice of flexographic printers 51. In 1990, OEC Graphics had the opportunity to purchase the exclusive rights to a technology from Stork Screens America, where sheet photopolymer was modified to fit a base nickel sleeve, resulting in a continuous and seamless photopolymer sleeve. OEC named the product Seamex 52. Seamex became the first flexographic continuous printing sleeve available in North America 53. The image-ready Seamex sleeves were exposed in the round with films prepared on a copydot exposure unit 54. Seamex provided a variety of benefits to the user. Sleeves were essentially premounted and ready to ship. There was no aligning necessary, no edge-sealing and no makeready. Small adjustments on press resulted in registration of color. The bonding of the sleeve eliminated lifting or leaking of solvents 55. Seamex could be used for continuous or non-continuous de- signs. Many Seamex printed designs contained tightly packed or staggered and interlocking elements 56. The only downside to Seamex use was the need to image with film, an unstable source when accuracy and critical registra- tion were at issue 57. After the introduction of the yag laser, OEC discovered a CTP laser device that met the needs for imaging on Seamex cylinders 58. The Schepers Digilas, imported from Germany in 1996, was delivered to OEC Graphics and became the first flexo CTP device in North America 59. Benefits of digital were clear: tighter resolution, enhanced repeatability, cleaner highlights and sharper process color 60. Digitally imaged photopolymer now allowed the ability to work from creation in an art department through a workflow that places the image at the plate surface 61. OEC installed its second Schepers Digilas laser to keep up with demand in 1998 OEC GRAPHICS REACHES 100 YEARS OEC Graphics, Inc. is a full service, vertically integrat- ed premedia company and globally recognized expert in flexography. OEC has always been driven by technol- ogy and opportunity since its inception in 1912. Origi- nally a small shop in downtown Oshkosh, WI, known as the Oshkosh Engraving Company, it provided portrait engravings for school yearbooks and other commercial letterpress projects. In the 1950s and 1960s, as that work transitioned to lithography, Oshkosh Engraving sought ways to remain viable and utilize its expertise. In 1958, Carl Schloesser became the sole owner and found flexography to be a good fit. It was a developing industry and had strong de- mand within the Wisconsin packaging market. Oshkosh Engraving added molding capabilities and started on its new adventure, becoming a major supplier of prepress services within the region. Jack Schloesser has led the company to become a technological leader and innovator within the industry since taking over from his father Carl in 1967. In 1972, the company underwent a location and name change to OEC Graphics and has never looked back. OEC has always embraced changes in technology and has pio- neered the way that flexo prepress is executed. Through expansion both geographically and into related markets, OEC now services all of North America through five full service locations and five additional remote facilities. The company has grown its product portfolio to include brand services, design, custom asset and workflow management, sign and display. OEC is strongly positioned as a single source partner for all prepress needs. About the Author: Jennifer Navin is OEC Graphics’ vice president of marketing and communications, a posi- tion she has held for 15 years. She joins her brothers, Jeff and Jon Schloesser (president and vice president, management information systems and development) as the next generation to carry on the legacy of their family business, working alongside their father Jack. www.flexography.org may 2013 FLEXO 55