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FLEXO Magazine : July 2014
requirements during the design phase instead of the production phase increases speed to market and decreases costs for the brand owners. Flexographic Image Reproduction Specifications & Tolerances (FIRST) addresses this concern in section 2.2 of the FIRST 4.0 Design Guide. Evaluating the package graphics in two dimensions, when the final product will be three dimensions, can make it challenging for a designer to understand how the die line will translate as a formed structure. It can be difficult to envision how graphics will fold across a gusset, panel or seal, which can have a significant influence on the perception of the package on the shelf. There are useful tools that take two dimensional graphics and form them around a specific package template in real time, so the creative team can identify graphic issues and protect the marketing intent. Technical Challenges Because of the quality improvements flexography has made over the last few years, more packages have transitioned from gravure to flexo. With this print process change comes more technical challenges, most notably the introduction of a plate break. When working with stand up pouches, what could once be hidden in a top or bottom seal is now seen on the edges of the principle display panel. Brand owners object to allowing the absence of print on their package, as it takes away from the original design. There are two late stage solutions to this problem, both of which can add unnecessary time and unplanned costs into the production of the package. Depending on the design, a plate break cover can be used to hide the gap, but this often adds extra separations to a job and a com- promise to the package’s visual appeal. To preserve the design more closely, the other option is the use of seamless media. Three dimensional tools help designers visualize how graphics will wrap around a package structure at an early phase of packaging development. JULY 2014 | FLEXO 29