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FLEXO Magazine : June 2014
test curing requirements with small tabletop curing units. Testing will provide a snapshot of potential challenges you may face before going to production if you are considering different run options. For example, on a tabletop proofing device it is rather easy to conduct a double hit of your ink using different an- ilox volumes and drying or curing settings. At this stage you can also conduct very cost effective experimentation with a variety of different substrates. In contrast, webbing and running an entire roll of material on press is wasteful, when a few passes on a proofer can achieve the same results. Proofers need to be simple to use. Some tabletop devices have quick anilox switch out options that make it rather easy to change out and test different anilox engravings and specifications. This can be important, especially with consider- ing the need for a double bump of the same material or multiple passes like a primer or opaque white. These various passes will like- ly use different types of anilox specifications in order to achieve your desired goal. Having it all there for proofing makes good economic sense. Once you have a good handle on what you want the effect to be, you can then be comfortable making any final tests of design at the press. The “pop” of any specialty ink can be enhanced further by how you include the effect in the design of the product. If you plan to utilize graphic options and not just print a solid, you may have to balance these requirements with the desired effects. You can use a banded roll that brackets the original volume and line requirements to enhance the printability. Pair a graphic design or designs you want to test with the banded roll and run them at the desired production speeds to test process requirements. FINAL CHECKS Other things to keep in mind as you transition from testing to a production setup are ways to maintain the inks, drying and curing options. Make sure you start with an ink that has just been thoroughly blended to get all particles in suspension. All glitter and pearlescent inks must be kept in suspension to create the desired effect and it is reasonable to think some settling will occur, so blend. You may also have to look at ways to keep the inks moving in the pan. Make sure the base system the particles are in is one that actually suspends them. Often we find using a pumping system instead of letting inks sit stati- cally in the tray is better for print consistency. Depending on your production equipment you may need to do some adjustments with your doctor blade. For example, in single blade setup when applying a thick layer of tactile ink, your goal is to allow the doctor blade to float or butter the coating—not shear it. This will increase the layer of ink that makes it to the polymer and then to the surface. You may need to adjust the web path as well to allow sufficient time for drying or curing. Confirm you have sufficient drying capacity or curing capacity (a minimum 400-w.) or that your curing lamps are well maintained and in good working order. It would 50 FLEXO | JUNE 2014