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FLEXO Magazine : January 2014
JANUARY 2014 VOLUME 39, NO. 1 In This Issue (con’t.) 39 Process Control, Hybrid Equipment, Continuous Improvement Mary Sullivan Successful hybrid printing equipment is putting a new level of flexibility, configurability and ultimately more control in the hands of the converter. PLANTS & PROCESSES 42 PDFing For Packaging Gary Russell By using a Color Exchange Format file scheme, all of the relevant details to accurately produce a printed package can be saved to a single file, offering a range of benefits and streamlined efficiencies. TECHNOLOGIES & TECHNIQUES 44 New Look, New Applications: The Mid Web CI Press Wallace Nard With changes in demographics, order types and manufacturing environments, the mid web CI press has advanced to meet printers’ needs. 48 Digital Printing Bill Myers As the printing industry continues to evolve and change, flexography and digital printing are increasingly becoming intertwined. 52 Package Prototypes & The UV LED Boom UV inkjet printers offer a cost effective solution that can produce realistic prototypes faster, with less waste and the ability to print to nearly all substrates and films. 55 Optimizing The Flexo Color Gamut Paul Lancelle The second half of this two part article takes a look at standardization and optimization, steps to take and benefits to be realized. INDICATORS INDUSTRY Process Control, Hybrid Equipment, Continuous Improvement Automated Functions—From Prepress to Finishing—Are Critical to Success By Mary Sullivan POWERFUL, INTUITIVE CONTROLS AT CONVERTERS’ FINGERTIPS • Major global economic drivers have forced change in manufacturing principles and practices • Strong impact of digital printing technology opened up new opportunities for improvement • Machine designs revived the livelihood of converters, driving more profitability and redefining workflows and their impact on margin and cost control • Technology that reduces the total cost of production has become the priority • Press builders who deliver new and innovative printing platforms with automation, as well as quantitative and qualitative technology tools, are what converters are invested in • Suppliers must deliver solutions that drive process control, consistency and standardization, packaged together with adoptable workflows and lean solutions past few years. Two primary influences have impacted the future, namely: major global economic drivers that have forced change in manufacturing principles and practices, and digital printing technology in the label and package printing market segments. Their substantial impact has opened up new opportunities for improvement and growth. New machine designs have revived the livelihood of converters, driving more profitability through indepth analysis of technology and redefining traditional workflows and how they impact margin and cost control. Converters continue to improve their workflows, productivity measurements and regularly examine their business processes, now more than ever. Technology that reduces the total cost of production has become the priority for leading label and package printers. Press builders who deliver new and innovative printing platforms with automation as well as on board quantitative and qualitative technology tools are what converters are invested in. This has been the driving force behind Mark Andy’s—and F www. f le xography. org JANUARY 2014 FLEXO 39 rom the perspective of a press designer and manufacturer, the printing, packaging and converting industry has been experiencing a significant evolution over the PLANTS & PROCESSES PDFing For Packaging Include All Relevant Color Info in One File By Gary Russell package. This includes being able to make color accurate proofs and generate all necessary print tools without needing any supplementary documents. This is what is known as a “Blind File Transfer.” Although this capability is not practiced today, it may be in the future. Ghent Workgroup (GWG) is trying to make this a reali- I ty. The organization’s color management subcommittee is working on the standardization of attaching all necessary color information for a package inside a PDF using the Color Exchange Format (CxF). This is an XML-based schema developed by X-Rite to handle just about any color information needed. ONE FOR ALL In the past, especially in packaging, it was common to create multiple files for different uses. One may be set up for proofing, where the varnish is colored to show where it is going to print; another may have that setting turned off in order to make a color accurate proof. There are many other instances of this having to do with: • Dies • Language selection • Braille • Versioning It goes without saying that having multiple versions of a PDF file representing a package leaves numerous opportunities for errors, not to mention the logistics of having to handle extra files or remembering to update multiple files when a change is requested. By organizing content into groups and applying tags based on intended use, these groups can be turned on or off—as needed—for different applications, without having to make separate files. Because these tags are standardized, a person picking up a file (or an automated workflow) will know the purpose of each group and be able to handle them accordingly. This is the first step in being able to establish a single PDF file as being a complete representation of the package. Stan- BENEFITS OF ONE PDF SYSTEM • Keeping relevant information together • Save time by producing fewer files • Mitigate chance for errors • Avoid forgetting to include an update/fix in all PDFs • Increased efficiency 42 FLEXO JANUARY 2014 dardizing how these content groups are built, named and represented within a PDF allows vendors and users worldwide to seamlessly interact with one file for many different use cases. The consumers of these PDF files will be able to trust the content to a much greater extent. PDF COLOR MANAGEMENT The next step centers on color management. Historically, there has been no way of communicating within a PDF file the necessary details about colors that are not in the document color space. If a document contained a color called “Acme Logo Red,” the only thing that document tells someone is its name. How this color should look, how it will interact with other colors and how to mix the ink—this information would have to be communicated through separate means. These details could then be lost, changed or misinterpreted. It would also be difficult to incorporate this information into an automated workflow. In packaging, just about every job that comes through contains different inks being printed on different substrates using different print methods. There is no way a person could make color profiles for every possible combination of colors on all of the myriad substrates used for these packages, especially when colors are sometimes modified at the last minute to compensate for unforeseen influences. Imagine trying to make color profiles when there are different “flavored” colors used on each package. If you know enough about the print condition and ink being used, you can make a prediction about how the colors will reproduce without actually having to print them first. In the packaging sector of our industry, there has been an increase in the development of tools that model what will www. f le xography. org magine having one single PDF file representing a package, self contained and complete enough that, wherever it goes, it has all of the information needed to produce the Visual ID of problem 4 inks same substrate All using different ingredients. Using Lab and DE all are within 2.o, Packages do not match in multiple lighting conditions. ie:the store happen on press. Models are based on characteristics of the ink, substrate and print method. These modeling tools are in their relative infancy but have great promise in the near future. In order to take full advantage of these new capabilities, especially in an automated environment, there needs to be a standardized way of passing this color data within a PDF file. DEMYSTIFYING COLOR MANAGEMENT So, what are these magic software applications doing? By getting information about ink opacity, trapping characteristics and what happens when a color is screened, one can produce a model of how the inks will act in a given print method, substrate and ink sequence. This will allow the color development process to generate a realistic version of the color at the beginning, where a decision can be made based on final result. Color conversions and proofing can also be made more accurate, giving a final result that the printer has a better chance of executing. GWG ASSOCIATION PARTNERS BPIF CMBO DDPFF ERA Febelgra FESPA FTA IdeAlliance IDP Group Medibel+ IDEAlliance PDFX-ready Printing Industries of America Rotasion.no Taga Italia UNIC VIGC VSD United Kingdom The Netherlands Denmark Europe Belgium United Kingdom USA USA The Netherlands Belgium USA Switzerland USA Norway Italy France Belgium Switzerland ADVANCING WITH CXF By using the structure provided by CxF, color needs can be communicated right inside of the PDF file. As this process becomes more widely adopted, vendors will build tools that allow the automatic extraction and usage of this very precise color information. It may seem that this makes things more complicated, but the truth is, it has always been this complicated. With this technology, we now have the opportunity to be able to successfully manage and control the details. The challenge to the vendors is to develop tools that will handle the complexity while offering a clear usable interface not only for a novice, but also an expert, with a smooth transition between the two. Once the needed standards are in place, the GWG is comAssociation Members (1 mitted to working on best practice workflows, documentation and collaboration with vendors to make it a valuable tool for blindly exchanging PDF files worldwide. ABOUT GWG The minimum information needed for a given spot color is the spectral data of the solid. This, however, has limited use when put into the context of how the actual ink and color will behave when printed. If a solid color is being printed, then that is all that is necessary. If you want to know what the color will look like screened, then additional modeling based on some assumptions about the print conditions would need to be performed. It is recommended that, if a spot color will be screened, there should be a full tint ramp from 100 percent of the substrate (no ink) to 100 percent of the ink, in 10 percent increments. If the ink will interact with other inks, this same scale should also be done over black ink, so that the opacity can be calculated and used for modeling. This would also show the effect that changing the ink sequence or the hue of one of the inks would have on the overall color. Some of these concepts have been around for quite some time waiting for computer technology enhancements, instrumentation developments, file format capabilities, new modeling methods and some hard working industry volunteers to come together at just the right moment. That time is now. GWG is an international organization dedicated to building specifications and best practices for publishing and packaging workflows. The group is instrumental in identifying processes that need to be standardized and works with the appropriate standards organizations to bring them to fruition. GWG celebrated its first decade in existence in 2012. Members come from all sectors of the industry and all parts of the globe and are comprised of end users, graphic organizations, hardware and software vendors, consultants and members representing fields in education. Subcommittees are formed to address needs as they arise. GWG currently is comprised of the following subcommittees: • Color Management • Compliancy Testing • Cross Media • Documentation • Job Ticketing • Marketing & Education • Office Document Printing • Packaging • Process Control • Specifications • Variable Data For more information about the CxF format, go to www. colorexchangeformat.com. For more information and periodic updates on all GWG related activities, visit www.gwg.org n About the Author: Gary Russell has a BPA degree in photography and has been working in the graphic arts industry for 45 years. Most of this time has been spent developing new technology and processes. He holds patents for new halftone screening technology for the flexographic industry and has been actively involved in color reproduction since the beginning. He has also been a contributing member of the GWG for the last seven years. www. f le xography. org JANUARY 2014 FLEXO 43 TECHNOLOGIES & TECHNIQUES frequency of long run orders has decreased dramatically, while the number and frequency of many other types of orders have increased: • Private label • Innovation • Special event marketing • Low volume SKUs • End of life products The turret unwind/rewind are located back to back in the center of the press. The traditional packaging supply chain challenge has been to manage volume. The new challenge is to continue to manage volume, while at the same time managing shorter runs. Companies with an infrastructure tailored for volume typically have a difficult time handling shorter runs with flexibility and lower costs. This problem creates opportunities for companies that can more effectively manage the shorter runs, as well as produce the high volume orders profitably. Some companies are working to reengineer their businesses to better manage these shifts in order volume and frequency. An approach like that of KYMC’s mid web equals reduced capital equipment costs for a greater ROI. Remembering The Mid Web CI Press Changes in Supply Chain, Manufacturing Environment by Wallace Nard n North America, changing demographics are causing massive shifts in how packaging is developed, marketed and distributed. The baby boomer generation will be 76 million members strong by 2015 and is projected to control 53 percent of the $706 billion spent on groceries. Male boomers are now living to almost 75 years of age and female boomers are living to nearly 80. The growing aging population is an increasingly important consumer segment and is creating a demand for healthier foods and convenience packaging. I WHY MID WEB? • Closer Tolerances • Faster Job Changes • Reduced Material Waste • Lower Production Costs • Faster Ink Changes 44 FLEXO JANUARY 2014 This, combined with an “on the go” younger generation and a rise in the number of single person households, has created a demand for smaller portions and “ready to eat” foods. Taken together, this has all led to a change in consumer purchasing habits. PATTERN CHANGES Changes in consumer purchasing have caused a shift in how and even where brand owners produce their product. Historically, long run orders have driven programs designed at making this volume work as efficiently and profitably as possible. Flexo presses that can run at faster than 2,000 fpm have entered the market in recent years, but the real question is: How does this fact line up with the change in order patterns? This question can best be answered depending on the type of flexible packing converter. The total output of packaging produced has increased; however, the total number of orders, as well as the distribution of those orders, has changed significantly. The number and www. f le xography. org MANUFACTURING ENVIRONMENT There appears to also be a shift, for many companies that went offshore several years ago, toward moving manufacturing supplies closer to demand locations. The ability to meet their customers’ demands for unique packages, rapid delivery and response times, as well as maintaining low inventories, has caused this return of manufacturing to the U.S. In an Accenture study, 61 percent of respondents said they were considering more closely matching supply location with demand location by on or near shoring manufacturing and supply. As offshoring of manufacturing and packaging shifts back to local supply chains, the cost for retooling locally and ROI becomes a major challenge in today’s environment. Continuing structural changes in the packaging industry with consolidation among converters and increased material costs has significantly added pressure on prices and margins. The cost of capital equipment and financing is an important consideration, coupled with shorter runs in today’s environment. SHORT RUN & MID WEB Over the years, a number of flexo press manufacturers have entered the market with a mid web central impression (CI) press, but these attempts failed to penetrate the market. Their approach was a low cost, lower speed press, based on the theory speed should not be an issue for short runs. This concept did not remain viable for the constantly changing market. High speed flexo has become a trend but has had its challenges. Ink containment, slinging and ink misting together with proper ink release from anilox cells at higher speeds require special converter expertise. The wider and faster you go, the more plate and anilox sleeve accuracy becomes a problem, leading to critical print pressures and even bounce problems. Then there is the approach of a robotic press change that can pre store multiple jobs in a holding rack, ready for the next job change. This high speed press concept has met limited market acceptance, mainly with larger converters for longer runs which, as we have said, are decreasing each year. The high cost of this approach has also been a drawback for most converters. Then came the approach of going wider with a combination of SKUs across a web, but this was never met with widespread acceptance from a practical point of view, due to the scheduling situation it can pose. GAME CHANGING ADVANCES It has been a well known fact that flexo printing requires a light impression setting for highlights and vignettes, whereas solid areas need pressure to transfer the ink and achieve proper ink densities. Conversely, gravure and offset printing requires more impression to transfer the ink properly. Pressure affects ink transfer differently with each print process. On a flexo press, too much pressure increases the possibility of bounce with certain images or printed bars across the web. Researchers at the DFTA-TZ (Technology Center of German FTA) at the Hochschule der Medien (Media University) in Stuttgart have done a lot of work on what they call “Planoflex” shallow relief plates of 100 µm. depth and how they relate to printing pressures of the anilox to plate versus plate to substrate. They found that increasing pressure between the anilox and plate had the most negative effect on print quality. They proved that a defined lower impression between the anilox and plate contributes more to sharp print than pressure between the plate and impression roller with substrate. Anilox to plate impressions need only to transfer the ink to the entire surface of the print area evenly and then the plate to impression roll is not as critical. DFTA-TZ found that with 100 µm. relief plates and a pressure between anilox and plate of only 60 µm., the plate impression to substrate could be up to 140 µm. with no detrimental effect on print quality. DFTA-TZ has applied for a patent based on this concept. The basis of this approach is: You cannot print what you do not ink. In addition, thinner relief plates can also reduce the likelihood of bounce caused by the plate images. Taking this approach that a deep relief plate is not needed, plate thickness can also be reduced. By combining: • Plate relief • Advances in plate surface structuring to improve ink transfer of solids to gain higher density ranges together • Lowering the highlight dot structure The resulting combination is a game changer. By altering the surface tension of the plate, more ink can be transferred with less pressure, yet still hold the highlights dots. A NEW CASE Mid web flexo can be defined several ways, but for this article we define it as 27 in. (670 mm.), 34 in. (870 mm.) or 42 in. (1,070 mm.) web widths. A mid web press can contribute greatly to reduced print pressures. How does the TIR (total indicated run out) and printing pressure relate to a mid web press? If you have a printed area that is 42 in. wide and a print repeat of 28 in., this equals 1,176 sq. in. of printed area. A 62 in. wide press with the same 28 in. repeat equals 1,736 sq. in. It is logical that with a print area 32 percent larger there will be a greater TIR of the mounted plate on the sleeve to deal with and greater anilox TIR as well. Taking into consid- www. f le xography. org JANUARY 2014 FLEXO 45 TS & PRINTING IS CHANGING So why is printing changing? It’s really a combination of many reasons and we don’t have to look any further than a visit to the grocery store to see it in action. Manufacturers of food, beverages and consumer goods products are continually generating new flavors, colors, scents, varieties and sizes. The number of unique SKUs for a typical supermarket has increased over the last decade to nearly 40,000 individual items and the demand for innovative ways to differentiate products by their packaging and labels continues to grow in importance. Consumers have more choices today than ever before and grabbing and retaining customer mindshare is critical to the success of any brand. Some brand owners are using digital printing technology to connect with consumers by printing QR codes onto their product packaging, either for food safety track and trace purposes, or for marketing purposes to drive consumers to a Web page which provides information on that brands’ other products, or even promotional and gaming applications. “Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” ~ John F. Kennedy breakeven point. This, coupled with the demand from brand owners requiring more versions necessitating shorter run lengths, has caused makeready time to become a more critical factor, causing the supply chain to pause and think differently about digital printing. HYBRID TECHNOLOGY A hybrid solution (analog and digital) allows for adding variable data to flexo printed labels. Digital Printing Its Evolution & Impact on Flexo By Bill Myers TECHNOLOGIES & TECHNIQUES 48 Prototypes produced on substrates differing from those used in the final product—even if those differences are subtle—can cause problems when the job goes to production. UV LED inkjet printers deliver the precise color imaging of water based inkjets and the broad media support needed to effectively simulate on press results, at a fraction of the time and cost. Employing a UV printer can also enhance and expedite the prepress process when more than one facility is involved. Advanced color management software designed to interface with such a printer—including programs from GMG, CGS and EFI—dramatically improves color matching accuracy and simplifies the proofing/color verification process. Working with UV printers, this software makes it possible to hit the exact color needed while ensuring consistent results across prepress and production platforms when printing takes place at multiple locations. If you are hoping this article focuses on a historical look at digital printing and a timeline of events throughout the past HYBRID: BEST OF BOTH WORLDS • Ink optimization system • Automatic stitching of printheads • Automated printhead cleaning and capping • User selectable droplet sizes FLEXO JANUARY 2014 Today, music is not even a physical object. It’s something called a download from iTunes or streaming from Pandora— repositories that provide you with a greater selection. And it’s quicker and easier to obtain it there than running out to a music store to buy the latest hit single from your favorite band. Huh, what’s a music store? Technology evolves, and in the world of printing, it’s no different. W hether you grew up listening to music on 8 tracks, record albums, cassette tapes or CDs, it’s obvious that media is very different now. Technology evolves. several years, then you will be highly disappointed. Evolution and progress, especially in the world of technology and, more specifically, in printing, is all about looking forward. So what drives evolution in technology? Is it the human need for continuous advancement, for the sake of simply creating something new and different? Or is it to respond to a change in market demand that necessitates new products and services? It’s probably of little bit of both. Organizations design and engineer products and services based on one of two factors. Either they believe a new product or service is what the market wants and by building it, “they will come,” or a new product or service is what the market demands because customers are proactively asking for it. Or, again, a little bit of both. In either case, technology is changing at an amazingly rapid pace, and this is highly evident in the world of printing. Whether it’s printing on labels, tickets, tags, signs, direct mail or packaging, there is no question that the face of printing is changing—and changing fast. www. f le xography. org Some digital systems can print at speeds up to 250 fpm at 600 dpi. lamps generate very little heat, allowing them to print on a wide variety of films used in flexible packaging, including • Clear • Metallic • Colored • Shrink In addition to printing CMYK, some UV printers can also be equipped with white ink. The ability to print high opacity white ink is important for flexo printers, since many flexo jobs are printed on metallic, clear and shrink films. The cost of producing a proof on a UV LED device is UV BENEFITS Package designers and brand managers often wish to see a variety of packaging options that differentiate their products from competitors while capturing the look and feel of finished goods. UV printers and printer/cutters offer a variety of finishing options. Clear coat ink adds matte or gloss varnishing and embossing effects. Some machines also perform scoring, kiss cutting and die cutting functions in a single workflow. Conventional UV lamps can reach temperatures as high as 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit, virtually eliminating the possibility of printing on any heat sensitive material. Today’s UV LED often as low as a few cents per sample. Compare that to an estimated dollar per sample for the same proof generated on a water based inkjet or $50 to $500 per sample when outsourced. Running a press to produce proof samples is even more expensive. To learn how UV technology is revolutionizing prepress and proofing, it helps to take a look at some real world examples. PBM GRAPHICS Durham, NC based PBM Graphics, an A to Z printing and fulfillment company that employs a staff of nearly 600, has specialized in commercial printing for more than 30 years. PBM uses its UV printer to produce prototypes of gift card carriers for many of the most recognized retailers, overwraps for trading card clients and shrink wrap prototypes for bottle packagers and adhesive label packages. President Adam Geerts says that, while his company originally purchased a UV printer for its opaque white capabilities, The possibilities that digital printing offer are limitless. In parallel, brands and packaging buyers are adopting lean manufacturing and just in time manufacturing processes. They want quicker turnaround, reduced inventory and reduced waste. In order to accomplish this, the production of those products and everything associated with those products (labels, packaging and, yes, printing) has to be in sync. Historically, analog printing, such as flexographic, screen, gravure and offset lithographic technologies have dominated package printing. However, over the last 10 years, digital printing and finishing technology manufacturers have greatly improved performance of their equipment in terms of speed, reliability, quality and the capability to print on various substrates—all of which has now enabled the technology to become suitable for an even wider range of production jobs by offering a much improved job length While digital may be the direction that business efficiencies are driving toward, there is a stop along the way for those not ready to take the full plunge. In the evolution of digital printing and its impact on flexo, some have adopted the two technologies working in tandem to provide a complete printing solution. In fact, this combination offers a good first step for label printer/converters, flexible and rigid packaging manufacturers and consumer product companies (CPCs) who have in plant printing capabilities and want to introduce digital to their process. It is referred to as a “hybrid” approach—combining analog and digital. There are three reasons to consider the hybrid approach: • Variable data printing: For applications that require bar codes, two dimensional (2-D) codes, QR codes, sequential numbering or serialization, a digital printing system integrated on a flexographic label press is a great way to dip a toe in the digital water. Digital inkjet technology can support print resolutions of 600 dpi with print speeds up to 250 fpm. Even a resolution of 1200 dpi can be achieved at half that speed. And for those who are satisfied with 300 dpi, we are seeing speeds nearing 500 fpm. Additionally, digital technology can support smaller 2-D data matrix and QR codes, and alphanumeric type as small as 3 pt. This is especially relevant on labels where space is a premium • Reduce makeready, changeover time, material waste: By utilizing digital technology, multiple versions can be printed without stopping the press for changeover, ultimately saving time and material on each job printed. This translates to what may be significant cost savings based on the jobs run • Leverage existing assets: Integrating digital inkjet is like adding a “digital black plate” to existing flexo equipment, providing versatility to equipment already in place. By selecting a digital technology that can integrate into existing printing systems, a printer can take advantage of the infrastructure it already owns—including transports and systems like coating, die cutting and slitting, which add capacity to in line capability. In addition, integrating digital with existing flexo provides the capability to go after new business with print jobs previously undoable, specifically those that require variable data. The flexibili- www. f le xography. org JANUARY 2014 FLEXO 49 The UV LED Boom How Inkjet Tech Is Increasing Profits aving the ability to quickly create a realistic package prototype that impresses a potential client with its detail and accuracy can make all the difference when it comes to winning business in today’s competitive marketplace. Until recently, the problem has been how to easily and effectively achieve this level of realism—a prototype that matches the final product—cost effectively and within a short time frame. Today’s advanced UV inkjet printers and printer/cutters offer flexo printers a cost effective solution, capable of H WHAT FILMS CAN UV LED PRINT TO? • Clear • Metallic • Colored • Shrink 52 FLEXO JANUARY 2014 producing realistic package prototypes in hours instead of days or weeks, without the long setup time, waste and returns associated with traditional package prototyping methods. Additionally, they print on virtually any substrate: • Polyethylene terephthalate • Polypropylene • Shrink wrap • Other original press substrates This allows packaging firms, flexo printers and converters to create prototypes using the same materials used in the final printrun. In a flexo operation, even a single proof or comp requires creating plates, adding labor and material costs to the job. While many shops rely on water based inkjet proofing devices to curb costs and produce proofs, these platforms don’t always support the films and other substrates used for flexible packaging. www. f le xography. org www JANUARY 2014 FLEXO 53 TECHNOLOGIES & TECHNIQUES SECOND OF TWO PARTS Optimizing The Flexo Color Gamut Process Control Remains Key By Paul Lancelle I n outlining the process control parameters involved in optimizing the color gamut for flexo print reproduction, it was stated in Part 1 of this series that “the path forward involves the commitment to a stringent process control plan… from prepress and proofing, through platemaking and on to print reproduction.” In practice, however, the path is actually reversed. True success with process control implementation begins at the press and is applied downstream from there. The same methodology applies in the determination of the appropriate print standard or specification that a particular printer may choose to adhere to. Without a solid understanding of the capabilities achievable from a set of print conditions, the entire process can easily evolve into a “tail chasing the dog” scenario. STANDARDIZATION What makes the determination and application of a general “flexo print standard” so challenging is the wide and varying range of print conditions that exist within the market segment. Varying press formats, substrates and ink systems all contrib- WHAT CAN BE AUTOMATED? • Ink viscosity and pH • Impression and registration • Anilox cell depth and condition • Film surface treatment and tension • Color variance throughout a run YELLOW 14 RED O/P GREEN O/P RED 57:1 BLUE 15 BLUE O/P Ink pigment selection plays a critical role in determining achievable gamut volume under a given set of print conditions. This graph illustrates the printable color gamut achieved using FIRST recommended process ink pigments. (Photo credit: FIRST 4.1) ute significantly to achievable process print gamut capability. Therefore, the age old mantra of benchmarking and characterization from a given set of print conditions, with optimization as an ongoing goal, remains as the basis in laying the foundation for any successful process control program. Arguably, the most critical keys to establishing color conformity and consistency in flexo remain in the choice of ink system and choice/condition of anilox rolls. Determining the “best” choice of ink system in optimizing the process color gamut, whether through the use of a 4-color process or expanded color gamut (ECG), is not an arbitrary decision. It must primarily be based on properties required for end use application, followed by what produces the largest gamut volume under the given set of print conditions. Maintaining ink www. f le xography. org JANUARY 2014 FLEXO 55