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FLEXO Magazine : June 2014
Going HQ The Journey to Repeatable, High Quality Flexo Printing Katja van der Louw H igh quality—or HQ—printing is a com- mon refrain today. Whether it is a printer or supplier, HQ is considered the tip of the iceberg when it comes to maximum quality standards within flexo printing. DEFINING HQ There are several ways to define the term HQ printing. Maybe a print job can be called HQ when it is exactly reproducible. Or is it consid- ered HQ when a particular, very fine screen type is used? Does HQ flexo printing mean that a special mix of innovative technologies must be used? And if so, which ones? Is the flat top dot technology the right choice, or is full HD better? Or maybe something totally different? It seems that a single, short definition for HQ printing does not exist. Rather, HQ printing is a constantly evolving level that is driven by the constantly growing market demands of the design and appearance of packaging material. The function of packaging material is no longer only protection, the carrying of goods, information transmission and so on. Today, it is more and more seen as a marketing tool, used to encourage potential buyers to purchase a product. On the buyer’s side, packaging material has to be visually impressive to gain the attention of consumers. On the brand owner’s side, it needs to match the color demanded, not just in one country but all over the world, in order to conform to a corporate design and foster brand rec- ognition. And this is only possible when a printer can achieve results with very bright, deep colors and sharp contours. The printer needs to be able to print solids with very high density and at the same time, fine type, barcodes and lines, and the demanded graphics. But this is still not enough. Every spot color the customer demands has to be matched very precisely. How is achieving all of this possible? Only by having a perfect house standard that enables reproducible printing jobs with consistently good quality. HQ REQUIREMENTS There is no single “miracle” solution for achieving HQ printing results. It is nearly impossible for a printer to use a random mix of the Image 1: A consistency comparison of GTT rolls compared to conventional anilox rolls; three different orders, each with the same specs. 74 FLEXO | JUNE 2014 TECHNOLOGY & TECHNIQUES Anilox Roll, Doctor Blade, Ink Selection Guide