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FLEXO Magazine : August 2008
PLANTS & PROCESSES FIRST EFFECTS Wong professed that the Prepress Organization’s big- picture focus is on avoiding “major catastrophes, avoid- ing rework, saving time and money.” She added, “The expectation I have of my team is to know enough about the printing process to advise de- sign on what can be printed. They have to think through the whole design.” As a result of working with An estimated 80 percent of all of General Mills’ flexible packaging is printed flexo. sure that designs are achievable before Marketing expectations are set.” “We have translated FIRST for our de- signers into Six Simple Rules,” said Kristin Savell, brand design senior prepress as- sociate. Rory Berg, another brand design senior prepress associate, elaborated, saying, “We have a portfolio that shows examples of do’s and don’ts. For example: don’t drop vignettes to zero, don’t build type out of multiple colors, don’t reverse type out of multiple colors, don’t put a solid and screen on the same plate, don’t use serif fonts, etc.” “Before the design fi le is turned over, we have a pre-production meeting with the design and prepress partners to under- stand expectations and reviewing print- ability, color breaks, and photography,” added Savell. “We also take it to the print- ers once we have fi nal approved artwork, to assure that there are no further con- cerns about how the job will reproduce.” To help keep flexo-printed pack- ages aligned with FIRST, the Prepress Organization relies on Schawk, a well- known prepress provider and brand man- agement company that has a history of expertise with fl exo and familiarity with the printers General Mills works with. “We have been working with Schawk for many years,” said Wong. “It manages a large portion of our packaging, and as fl exo has grown and evolved, their knowledge and expertise has pushed the boundaries of fl exo reproduction to a very high standard. It is a three-way partnership.” 70 F LEXO AUGUS T 20 0 8 www. f l e x o g r a p h y. o r g FIRST, she said that printers have commented that the fi les they are handed are easier to print than perhaps some other customers’ fi les. “They tell us they are getting up to color much quicker and have less makeready,” interjected Berg. In addition, the team has been im- pressed with results that they are getting from their printers. “I have been amazed,” said Wong. “We have some pretty sophis- ticated designs—food photography with subtle details—baked goods right from the oven with steam coming off them. We work hard to make sure that we have a good fi ngerprint on fi le from the printer and that we have discussed what plates they are running and that they are not going to change anything prior to putting this on press. When that sample comes back, we compare it to a duplicate proof here. It is exciting to see how close the print can match the proof!” Cherie Handberg-Davis, brand design technology and logistics manager said that the “wow factor” is fi nally achievable in fl exo. “We are a food company and our packages must have high appetite appeal. If the broccoli looks black, consumers won’t buy it. It must convey fresh! FIRST helps the Prepress team manage that. They are the last to look at a package before it goes to the printer and hits the shelves.” Wong declared that she and her team are no longer afraid to take on the chal- lenge of printing something fl exo. “We have come so far, and there have been advancements with digital plates and screening technologies that allow us to do a lot more than we used to and it gets bet- ter all the time,” she said. FIRST has also virtually eliminated press-side approvals for flexo. “When we have a proof that really predicts how it will print, we don’t need to attend a press ap- proval. We only go for very special reasons, such as a major redesign,” she said. Wong admitted she and her team still struggle with reducing dot gain, better solid ink densities and bringing down costs. “One of the things that drives cost up is the customization that we have to do for each printer,” she stated, asking if there would ever be a day that fl exographic printers/converters will be certifi ed as fully compliant with FIRST guidelines, allow- ing different shops in different states to produce virtually identical results using the same fi le, regardless of equipment and personnel. “Historically, that brand had always been printed roto because there was uncertainty in the reproduction quality of the Pillsbury Doughboy.” —Gail Wong, General Mills
Flexo Sustainable Fall 2008