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FLEXO Magazine : May 2013
Technologies & Techniques Expanded Gamut Printing & The Tipping Point Revisiting a study from FTA’s 2009 Annual Forum By Mark samworth The flexo community has been observing the growth of expanded color gamut (ECG) printing for a decade or more. For much of this period, the underlying question was if and when ECG would ever catch on. Answering this question was deemed to be of such importance, that for the 2009 FTA Annual Forum, session chair Mark Vanover requisi- tioned Al Bowers of RR Donnelley and myself to answer it. Vanover specifically asked Al and I to not perform a tech- nology show but instead, to address whether ECG printing had reached “The Tipping Point.” For those of you enthralled with fad but entertaining business literature, “The Tipping Point” was Malcolm Gladwell’s best seller on how certain trends make sudden shifts in magnitude with the assistance of a few “seemingly ” small events. Our conclusion in 2009 was that ECG had not tipped. We recalled that ECG had started in the 1990s and that by 2009, the number of printers using it in production was only slightly higher than in the late 1990s. We didn’t have market share numbers, but we couldn’t in any way make the case that the total volume for expanded gamut printing could be much higher than 1percent or 2 percent in 2009. Feedback—from the FTA audience and in our travels that year—indicated that our estimates were pretty close to the mark. But the feedback also indicated something else – that although the number of printers using ECG in 2009 had yet to significantly increase, the level of interest in ECG was at ECONOMICS & ECG • The number-one reason that Consumer Product Companies want to convert to ECG is economics • At the beginning of 2013, ECG encompassed 16 percent of the work at flexo premedia companies and 11 percent of the work at flexo converters • Improvements in flexo plates and imaging – often referred to as “high definition flexography,” has clearly played a major role in ECG reaching the tipping point • Three technologies have emerged to enable a much better match between the color specified by the CPC and the color achieved on press. 1. Press Characterization 2. Tint Build Logic 3. Dependent Standard Concept • Understanding the principle of synchronizing to a specification starts with understanding the principle of printing to a specification • Proofing systems have emerged which are capable of achieving an accurate match to ECG printing. This alone is largely responsible for ECG reaching the tipping point Malcolm Gladwell’s the “The Tipping Point” described many of the criteria by which trends came to be compared in the years since its publication. 30 FLeXO MAy 2013 www.flexography.org