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FLEXO Magazine : October 2013
• Only 13 percent always check incoming raw material for gauge accuracy, 40 percent check it rarely and 47 percent never check it • While 73 percent record finished plate data, only 13 per- cent of those analyze it for any reason • Perhaps most surprisingly, 93 percent felt that their QC procedures were very effective and only 7 percent felt that while effective, they should be doing a bit more But of greater interest were the commonalities between these successful shops. What were the practices that rose to the top? • 100 percent check gauge and relief of finished plates • 87 percent warm up bulbs before exposures • 87 percent monitor exposure bulb output or hours • 87 percent have a preventative maintenance (PM) pro- gram for their equipment • 73 percent use a control strip file with target elements Of course, each of these practices varies in detail from shop to shop. For instance, different internal control strips are used that give each shop the information it specifically finds useful. Some include a control strip on each sheet and some make one per day. Some operations measure gauge numer- ous times on the same plate and some only measure special areas on the control strip. The point is that each shop has a system in place to do these things and in doing them, believes it is the key to success. ACTIONS & ACCOUNTABILITY A closer look at these five practices reveals why each con- tributes so significantly to plate consistency. A well-designed control strip can have multiple uses from dot size verification to relief and gauge measurements, while also being quite unobtrusive, lending itself to become a normal part of the platemaking process on every sheet. Furthermore, through proper implementation and train- ing, platemakers are empowered to participate, see the consistency of their work and become accountable for their contributions. The strip itself can be stored and referenced should the need arise to crosscheck the platemaking of any plate or job. Checking finished plate gauge and relief is probably the biggest "bang for the buck" of all measurements. A simple check of these features can reveal so much of what is hap- pening in the back exposure, washout and drying steps, and indicate any potential issues present. It also offers continual monitoring of these steps with very little effort. Warming up the bulbs prior to main exposure is critical to ensuring consistent dot size from plate to plate. Figure 1 shows the change in temperature at the plate surface and UVA output over the course of eight 10-minute main expo- sures starting with completely cold bulbs. Neglecting to warm the bulbs yields considerably bigger dots on plate one compared to plate four, where the ending plate surface tem- perature had risen 5 degrees Celsius. This is because as the temperature increases, more oxygen diffuses into the plate, thereby increasing the effect of oxygen inhibition and leading to smaller dots. The smart solution for Flat Top Dots and Surface Screening • • • • • • nyloﬂex® NExT is a high-performance exposure technology for precise image reproduction and the highest print quality with excellent ink laydown. High-intensity UV-LEDs ensure consistent long-term UV emission and reproduction of even the ﬁnest detail. The new and innovative exposure units, nyloﬂex® NExT Exposure FIII and nyloﬂex® NExT Exposure FV – available now. Flint Group Flexographic Products T +1 704 504 2626 info.ﬂexo@ﬂintgrp.com nyloﬂex® NExT equipment video – www.ﬂintgrp.com innovative efﬁcient reliable precise NEW All names marked with ® are registered trademarks and Rely on us.SM is a service mark of Flint Group. nyloﬂex® NExT exposure technology Radically new LED exposure for ﬂexo plates