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Flexo Magazine : November 2012
Plants & Processes Taking Tinkering to Task! FIrst: Printing’s Five s’s—sort, set in order, shine, standardize & sustain By sean teufler and Johnny Dye One of the most pressing problems that hinders the flexographic process is tinkering—a blend of unde- fined print processes and uncontrolled press inputs, held together by a print culture that sustains it. Issues that develop from this concoction often force a press operator to compensate for shortcomings in hopes of achieving an ac- ceptable quality outcome; but alas, the fruits of this labor can be rejected product, unsatisfied customers and lost opportu- nities. If tinkering is so obvious, then why does it happen? Two reasons: 1. Necessity, because the operator doesn’t have a choice but to try to make it right 2. Print culture, which develops over time So, what can be done? First, we must get the print process under control. We must define the press inputs and decide on simple checks and balances, while understanding the limita- tions of the operator with each input. Lastly, we must address how to change the print culture. In order to have a good grasp on consistency, a process must be defined and standards must be upheld. While there FORM & FUNCTION • Optimization, Fingerprinting and Characterization improve communication among all parties and build a foundation of understanding for further process improvement • Get the print process under control • Define press inputs and decide on checks and balances • Understand limitations of the operator • Change the print culture. Utilize tools like pads, brushes and sponges for plate cleaning, both for the image surface to avoid print defects and the back of the plate to remove residue interfering with adhesion to the mounting tape. 38 FLEXO novemBer 2012 www.flexography.org