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FLEXO Magazine : June 2008
TECHNOLOGIES & TECHNIQUES D:: III :z: a. cC D:: ø o >< III .... ... D:: III Z Z - ø III III FIGURE 1. Images courtesy Breon Williams. Corrugated Design Disasters Helpful Hints for How to Avoid Them I n more than 30 years of teaching graphic communications at the col- lege/university level, I have observed many design mistakes that have led to dismal results on press. Many of those student design mistakes were made because of a lack of understanding on the entire print production process. "But it looked great on the screen" seems to be the unanimous defensive statement when staring at the disappointing final product and trying to decide what went wrong. Like most man-made disasters (plane crashes, automobile pileups, and industrial explosions), print disasters usually occur, not because of a single blunder, but due to a series of poor habits, misunderstand- ings, lapses of knowledge and diverted attention from over-confident designers who refuse to ask questions. These de- monic forces line up creating a sinister synergy that always results in a "crash and burn" scenario on press. It strikes me that maybe these disasters aren't just limited to fledgling university students, but perhaps can be found within the package printing industry on a regular basis. If so, maybe a review of the most common mistakes and providing a few helpful hints would be of value to all. - JUNE 2008 FLEXO By E. Dean Gilbert, Ed.D. As I contemplate the design disasters I've experienced over the years, they seem to fall within three separate categories: 1) structure problems, 2) graphic design problems, and 3) design problems that are caused by a lack of print process knowl- edge. Now, I realize that for each listed item, many readers will identify several problems that may seem just as important. I will concede that there is no limit to pos- sible mistakes and that I have only started a list in an attempt to generate thought and attention to the design mistakes that plague our industry. STRUCTURE DESIGN PROBLEMS Good structure designers must remem- ber each design must accommodate the die maker, converter, customer, and end user (buyer of the finished product). The design must be relatively easy to convert into a steel rule die without undue work or weakening the structure of the die. After the die is made and shipped to the con- verter' it must cut flawlessly without break- ing or causing production downtime. Once converted, the finished corrugated package must protect the customer's product, and most importantly, be attractive enough to entice the end user to purchase the prod- uct. Here are some hints to prevent those www.flexography.org problems that can rear their ugly heads and stand in the way of attaining these goals. 1. Slots. In die cutting, slots are a huge challenge. Small rectangular shapes (slots) create havoc for both the die manufacturer and the converter. As the above illustra- tion shows, dies with slots cause the die maker to cut two parallel lines very close together in the plywood base of the die. This results in a weakening of the die and may ultimately cause the blades to loosen or break out of the die. For the converter, the small slots cause problems in ejecting the cut material from the die. Material packed inside the slots can damage the die or cause production to stop while the ma- terial is removed. Straight slots cause more problems than tapered slots. It is much easier to strip the waste away from a tapered slot than a straight slot. The tapered slot pulls away without the drag of material on the side; straight slots must drag against the side pressure of the adjacent material to be removed. Some structure design techniques can be an alternative to slots. Figure 1 shows how a slot located near a fold can actually be eliminated by strategically placing cuts on the fold that will create a slot when the material is folded.