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FLEXO Magazine : July 2014
Overprinting cyan allowed for additional observations of the behavior of other inks when printed on top of white ink backgrounds with different degrees of smoothness. The team wanted to see how well overprinted inks would keep or lose their solid ink density (SID) and saturation, based on the reflective qualities of white ink laydown achieved by each combination of print elements. Findings indicate that, although the overprinted ink density was not greatly affected by the quality of white ink laydown, its visual appearance suffered tremendously when the white background was mottled or pinholed. “Since the instrument measurement is not always in line with visual assessment, we strongly suggest to use the latter as an important part of ink laydown evaluation,” notes Recchia. “For example, when we compared samples of double printed white with a single layered ver- sion, the mottle numbers were very similar but the visual appearance of the ink laydown was much different." The team’s other findings were also revealing—and exciting. We managed to achieve smoother ink laydown and reduce ink consump- tion by moving from an anilox of 250 (7.2 bcm) to 360 (5 bcm) with about one point of opacity reduction. Considering the more than two bcm difference, the potential cost savings for the large volume printers could be substantial. Looking Forward The CSW/MacDermid joint R&D team would like to acknowledge their printing partners, anonymous by choice, who agreed to run and measure the test plates several times over the course of this research project. All who participated were intrigued by the quality of the re- sults and potential for cost savings in ink consumption and increased production speed. Both companies are planning to eventually commercialize this concept. First we plan to introduce it to solvent based flexo printers, but we will continue our research with water based and UV based sys- tems. There is still a lot to learn about our new ability to engineer sur- face properties of the printing plate and its effect on surface tension. By choosing the optimum combination of plate durometer, plate sur- face treatment, anilox volume and mounting tape density identified by this research, printers will gain better transfer of white ink, increase opacity and improve overall appearance of their product—in one pass and without loss of speed. This is a potential game changer for the entire flexo industry. n About the Author: Marek Skrzynski is director of graphics, R&D at CSW, Inc. His expertise in color management and flexographic press- room best practices spans at least 20 years and he shares this knowledge by advising and lecturing at universities, conferences, agencies and press side. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. JULY 2014 | FLEXO 55