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FLEXO Magazine : July 2013
GCR Image Conversions, Laser Engraved Elastomer Sleeves & ECG Printing Achieve Heights Once Reserved for Gravure The rotogravure process has been known for its ability to deftly print fine art and photography, and for its unmatched durability in long printruns. But rotogravure continues to be among the most expensive printing processes in our industry today; requiring hundreds of thousands of impressions to be profitable. There is an alternative. You can now achieve the quality and nearly equal the run length of rotogravure for a fraction of the cost by using laser ablated elastomer sleeves. For shorter printruns that didn’t require quite the quality of rotogravure, flexographic plates became an alternative, but until recently, there was no clear cut alternative that rivaled high-end rotogravure for print quality and longevity. Flat top dot and high definition (HD) screening have helped bridge the gap for flat plates; but flat plates still fall short when it comes to longevity, registration ability, and razor sharp text. Now, flexographic printing using laser engraved elastomer sleeves offers all of these abilities. Laser engraved elastomer sleeves can be leveraged along with technologies like gray component replacement and expanded gamut to offer a high quality, reproducible printing product that is only rivaled by rotogravure. Elastomer sleeves approach the run lengths of rotogravure cylinders at a fraction of the cost. They are also extremely efficient for short runs because of ease of mounting and impeccable registration – leading to faster makereadies. For a printer, they can make the difference between profit and loss. For designers, this means you can change printing processes, but do not have to change your designs to convert them from rotogravure to flexography. Subsurface imaging allows control of graphics and text. Printers can now combine halftoning and line work into one print unit. Engraved flexographic sleeves can hold below 1 percent minimum dot: allowing fuller range throughout the highlight dot for vivid artwork and photorealistic images. This is done with minimal size highlight dots, microns below the surface. Only laser engraving allows control of the imaging of the dot—from the floor, to the shoulder, to the surface, to reduce surface tension and to control dot gain. EXPANDED GAMUT The traditional CMYK process limits today ’s “jump off- the-shelf ” graphics intended to attract consumers in a few What is Subsurface Engraving? The ability to three-dimensionally control the dot height, shape, surface size, shoulder width, angle and relief depth of both halftones and text. Taking the highlight dot subsurface controls dot gain, while allowing more pressure latitude on press. www.flexography.org JuLy 2013 FLEXO 43