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FLEXO Magazine : October 2013
• outstanding performance for high printing speeds • provides tight industry tolerances for TIR and OD • excellent results in high quality printing • consistent printing properties • wall thicknesses from 0.472” to 3.94” • sleeve length up to 150” • premium upgrade: rotec® Register Ring Go Premium ! Flint Group Flexographic Products T +1 877 768 3248 F +1 828 681 9595 info.ﬂexo@ﬂintgrp.com www.ﬂintgrp.com For additional information please contact rotec® Premium Sleeve for ﬂexo plate mounting High quality sleeve with superior dimensional stability All names market with ® are registered trademarks and Rely on Us. SM is a service mark of Flint Group. Neglecting bulb condition and using bulbs past 80 per- cent of their original output also leads to noticeably smaller dots on the plate. This difference in size cannot be made up by extending the main exposure time---only increasing the polymerization rate by increasing the UVA output of the bulbs will do the trick. Last but certainly not least, a good PM program is essen- tial for consistent plates. This makes sense considering all finished features of the plate are determined by the equip- ment used to create them, but it cannot be stressed enough. It is too often assumed that certain process variables are being controlled, but in reality they are changing (washout solvent balance or saturation) or possibly malfunctioning (a main ex- posure bulb out or dryer blower out). Routine checks of equip- ment and solvent, as well as maintenance or replacement of semi-consumable parts before failure occurs is essential. DEALING WITH DATA Regarding data, while measuring and logging features of finished plates is helpful for referencing purposes, of greater importance for ensuring plate consistency is keeping tabs on the status of the equipment and elements used to create those features. Measuring, counting and weighing the golden eggs are important, but the health of the goose is more so. The good news is that without a hefty portion of gross negli- gence, the modern platemaking process with state-of-the-art equipment is considerably robust and plates from a single platemaking operation can be repeated and remade over and over again with surprising precision. Of course, that is not to say the process today is foolproof. Certainly there are good habits and bad. Not all equipment is up to current standards or on good PM schedules. But imple- mentation of these five tried-and-true winning concepts is a step in the right direction. Above all, even if plate consistency today is at an all-time high, there is always room for improvement. It is easy to rest on our laurels and say, "a 50 percent dot +/-2 percent is good enough; any more accuracy isn't worth the effort and will get swallowed up in the variability of the process." On the flipside, there is nothing wrong with striving to do better and the cost, time and effort here is minimal. If every piece of the puzzle called "flexo printing" gets a little tighter, a little better, a little closer to true, then the whole process gets simpler and easier---and becomes less a strat- egy of hope (and probably results in a little less cursing). About the Author: PJ Fronczkiewicz is the North American product manager of Flint Group Flexographic Products and a 1997 graduate of Clemson University with a BS in Graphic Communications. During his 15 years of industry experience, he has also held positions as senior technical advisor for Flint Group as well as providing technical support for anilox rolls and formulating flexographic packaging inks.