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FLEXO Magazine : August 2008
FTA TODAY they evolve to doing basic two-color jobs and learn how to put in the anilox rolls, put in the plate rolls and set a deck.” As the students advanced through the different courses, they face increasingly challenging jobs. “We go on to use a die and web turn. After that, they use metallic inks, scratch offs, etc. At the top, there are different levels of complexity. They might do a re- lam/delam where they are printing on the adhesive. Scratch-offs can be difficult too. We also test them with some tricky die-cuts. The students also make photopolymer plates that they will run on the press and mix inks to achieve a delta E of 4 or less. The second year press students finish off their education by taking the Level II certification exam, which truly tests their understanding of flexo functionality as it relates to press operations.” Rivard added, “They’ll also learn to print white opaque over clear film or foil with four- to six-color process. We also do some expanded gamut stuff on top of a film or foil. One of the more complex things is the Color Management course in the second year. Here, the job itself is not so challenging, but you’ve got a UV and water-based flexo press that have to match to a wide-format or digital machine. The students have to get those to match within a delta E of 4. They work with the designer and prepress person right there and look at the profile and decide how to in- voke it. They then measure what they print decide if they are too far from the target and how to get there.” While the students’ education is very hands-on, in the ad- vanced courses, the teachers take a strict hands-off approach. “In these situations, Pete and I do not touch the press. The students have to characterize the press and create their own profiles. And they all do it!” “In the fourth quarter, they take Quality Control for Graphics and that’s where we talk about the differences in FIRST (Flexographic Image Reproduction Specifi cations and Tolerances), SWOP, G7, etc.,” said Rivard. “They need to understand total ink coverage and dot shape—why use a round dot shape, when would you want to use an elliptical dot shape, etc.” Oetjen declared that nothing about Dunwoody education is “just theory.” He said, “They don’t just read about it, they actually do it. Every student mixes ink. They see how it all comes together.” The students are also trained in how to analyze and trouble- shoot problems. “We do a lot of science and math,” said Rivard. “It’s not just about running the device, but understanding the calibration, running them to a number and knowing what to do with those numbers. We get them out of the habit of blaming the equipment. The machine didn’t eat your file, and the press didn’t dump on your cyan. Look at the press and figure out what is oc- curring. Start prioritizing what could have happened. We make them chase down every possibility. This stuff isn’t slam dunk. We try to have them come out with an analytical mind.” Oetjen calculated the students averaged 10 to 12 hours per week on press for 12 weeks per quarter for three quarters. But some take jobs as student workers, or hang around after class, racking up even more press time. “Some people work like mules and others don’t give you one minute extra,” said Rivard. The teachers at Dunwoody tap numerous (and some not-so- local) resources to ensure that students graduate with sufficient exposure to the most current technologies. “This year I brought five students with me down to FFTA Forum,” said Oetjen. “That’s one way for them to stay abreast. During the course of their education, they are required to read FLEXO Magazine and write a one-page review of an article every month. And there are field trips. We have great industry partners. Kodak was just in here, and the students were talking to them. I took all the students out to Flint Group Narrow Web in May, where Mike Buystedt spoke to them about their most current products. In addition, I Dunwoody College of Technology printing faculty (left to right): Larry Meilleur, Shawn Oetjen, Kent Esby and Peter Rivard. 84 F LEXO AUGUS T 20 0 8 www. f l e x o g r a p h y. o r g
Flexo Sustainable Fall 2008