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FLEXO Magazine : November 2013
• Advanced screening technologies that further extend tonal range capability, particularly in the critical highlight zone • Micro surface texturization applications that lead to en- hanced ink transfer and higher solid ink densities There are even recently developed aqueous plate formula- tions on the market that have provided similar results without the application of digital flat top or surface texturization. While these combined technologies provided the capabil- ity to accomplish more with a 4-color process reproduction in flexo, that is not to suggest that gamut capabilities with a 4-color process can meet or exceed those of a 7-color ECG. At minimum, the application of the three additional process colors will consistently provide a gamut model at a minimum of 20 percent larger than any 4-color process ink set. “HoW muCH do You need?” This is the question a printer ultimately has to answer. The most effective path forward is very much situation dependent. The real value derived to the printer with either approach, however, lies in the recipe color simulation capability, leading to opportunities for “fixed color palette” creation. In commit- ting to this path, however, comes the associated challenges of predictability, consistency and repeatability in the end result. As the graphics production manager at one of the lead- ing consumer product companies so often states, “It doesn’t matter to me if you print it offset, gravure or flexo. I don’t care if you print it with 4, 7 or 12 colors. I don’t care if you do it with magic pixie dust or standing on your head. I just want product conformity and the same results every time.” While this remains as a very viable and understandable mandate, the truth remains that this objective is far easier said than done, particularly when considering that there exist, literally, hun- dreds of variables in the flexographic reproduction process. While the market has dictated that printing “in control” become a top priority for nearly every flexo printer today, the stakes become much higher when committing to the path of recipe color simulation through process print. Without a roadmapped and dedicated process control plan in place, a printer striving for the benefits of extended color gamut ap- plication will fail to find true success. PrePAring For eCg So, what are the key process control components that can contribute to a successful extended gamut implementation? It certainly begins with the determination of an appropriate print standard, establishing realistic tolerances to the stan- dard, and carries forward from there. And the establishment of “realistic” tolerances is a key point. Through either internal evaluation or customer consul- tation, achievable and repeatable tolerance specifications for print registration and L*a*b* Delta E error must be estab- lished as a path toward accurately predicting and repeating recipe color simulation print results. Once a standard and tolerances has been established, the path forward involves the commitment to a stringent process control plan—from prepress and proofing, through platemak- ing and on to print reproduction. It is impossible to control what is not measured. Control targets that capture the data from all optimization, fingerprint and characterization trials must be included on “live” jobs. Real-time control charting and comparison of the results to the average and control limits established from the fingerprint data, simplifies the process for press operators in determining when adjustments are necessary and, as importantly, when they are not neces- sary to maintain print quality and consistency. Part two of this series will dig a little deeper into the neces- sary process control steps required in obtaining ongoing success in optimizing the flexo color gamut. n About the Author: Paul Lancelle works in the Technical Solutions Group at All Printing Resources, Inc. He is a 35-year veteran of the printing industry with a focus on prepress, plate and print techni- cal applications. Paul is an active member of FTA/FFTA, having served as a past board member, supplier vice chair and chairman of the FFTA Board of Trustees, as well as chairman of Forum in 2009. He remains active as a frequent contributor to FLEXO magazine, a speaker at various association events and a member of the Awards Committee. Ink-proofing systems that can most closely replicate actual print conditions provide the most effective process control functionality in any printing operation. real-time control charting and comparison of the results to the average and control limits established from the fingerprint data remain as critical components in process color control. C M Y CM MY CY CMY K Full_Page_FTA_Holliday_Wish_Final.pdf 1 2013-10-31 4:03 PM 52 FLeXO NOVEMbEr 2013 www.flexography.org