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News from the prepress and platemaking scene.

Flexo results that rival gravure

Italian prepress service provider Flexograf is helping flexo printers compete with gravure and litho after investing in the Kodak Flexcel NX system.

“Using the Flexcel NX process for plate production has enabled us to make big strides forward in terms of efficiency and exceptional plate quality,” explains Alberto Bramanti, Flexograf’s CEO.

“Once the graphic design is finalised, Kodak’s technology ensures excellent repeatability and predictability of the printed result on any media,” he says.

A crucial aspect of the Flexcel NX system is the lamination step, where direct contact between the imaging layer and the plate prevents contact with the air and protects against oxidation. The result is stable, full-amplitude, flat-top dots on the plate.

Alberto Bramanti: “Jobs can be repeated with consistent print quality, from one print run to the next. The flat-top dots are more durable in printing and during cleaning.

He has also been impressed by the imaging system with Squarespot technology: “It ensures dot uniformity and tonal stability of the screens, giving us high line screens. Our customers particularly appreciate the reliability and consistency of the Flexcel NX plates’ quality, even on very long print runs.”

NX plates are said to offer a wider tone range than conventional digital plates, with higher density and brighter lights, and no shifts in tone. And the ability to have high density prints while preserving subtle gradations allows a wider colour gamut and simplifies prepress processing, it is claimed.

One Flexograf customer is print service provider Imball Center, which specialises in producing flexible packaging for the food and medical markets. Technical manager Gianluca Dattili attests: “The plates produced by Flexograf using the Flexcel NX system have helped us increase quality when printing thermal envelopes and films for food packaging. For example, we have printed images with screens up to 70 lines/cm, using only the four basic colours, plus white.

“Our customers are beginning to realise that flexo quality is fast approaching gravure printing, and can see that they’re now able to reduce the number of print colours while at the same time increasing image quality.

“The benefits for customers are clear – we’re helping them to reduce their start-up costs, save time and improve the quality of reprints.”

Alberto Bramanti summarises: “Our investment in the Flexcel NX system is paying off and has a key role to play in our future growth. Kodak’s technology will help flexo lose its reputation as a poor man’s printing technology, and could even make inroads into the gravure market.”

Proof of his confidence is the fact that Flexograf has now ordered the wide version of the Kodak system, which gives a maximum plate size of 1,067 x 1,524mm.

GWG approves : Apogee

The Ghent PDF Workgroup (GWG) has confirmed that the preflight module of :Apogee Prepress v7.1, from Agfa Graphics, is compliant with its 1v4 specifications.

The GWG 1v4 specifications describe what PDF files should contain so that they can be exchanged and processed reliably by graphic arts companies and workflows. GWG 1v4 compliant files are based on the industry standard PDF/X-1a file format. They have, however, passed a number of additional quality checks to avoid issues with low resolution images, white text overprinting, and high total ink coverage.

:Apogee Preflight v7.1 will ship with the 13 profiles of the GWG 1v4 standard, which allow users to check if incoming PDF files were made according to the GWG specifications. The profiles also enable :Apogee users to create high quality GWG 1v4 compliant files for archiving or exchange with other GWG 1v4 compliant RIPs or workflows.

Keeping cool

To consistently produce the highest quality imaging when using computer to plate (CTP) technology, various components of the platesetter, as well as the processing fluid, must be maintained at a constant temperature. With heat loads of 600-1,500W (at 20-21ºC setpoint), an external closed loop temperature control unit is required to recirculate chiller liquid to dissipate the excess heat.

Reliable, accurate temperature control is necessary to produce the highest image quality, extend the life of the thermal platesetter, and to operate efficiently. During the platesetter process, the printing plate’s temperature significantly increases due to laser ablation. Its subsequent immersion into the processing fluid increases the fluid temperature and, in order to maintain it at the correct temperature, a chiller, such as the Thermo Scientific ThermoFlex re-circulating chiller is required.

The configurable ThermoFlex is said to maintain consistent temperatures within the platesetter and processor, and it can operate with near-continuous run times to meet the high demands of CTP printing. Each chiller includes a full flow filter that can be changed within minutes while the unit is in operation, to minimize downtime.

More accurate brand colour proofing

UK-based specialist in packaging and brand colour management LNS Print has used X-Rite technology to develop what it believes to be the industry’s most accurate brand colour proofing system.

“Together with X-Rite, we have developed a system that provides total colour accuracy across all commercial printing processes,” comments LNS director Lee Harman. “By combining the latest in colour communications technology with the use of enhanced commercial ink and advanced technical colour reading equipment, we can now fingerprint the DNA of colour.

“Every colour carries a unique set of information called spectral data, which is akin to the colour’s digital fingerprint,” he explains. “Once we have measured the spectral values of a brand colour using an X-Rite SpectroEye spectrophotometer, we are able to take that data and use it in our own Blend Scheme process.

“Using X-Rite’s InkFormulation software, base pigments are mixed in-house to achieve exact, reproducible colour matches. These base pigments are exactly the same as the ink manufacturer uses to mix the colours for use on press, so we know that the prototypes we create for our clients are highly accurate.”

Using X-Rite’s Color iQC software, LNS is also able to check the quality of the colour on the press and ensure the faithful communication of the measurement data for complete end-to-end quality control.

HD approval

The Apex Group has gained HD-Flexo certification from EskoArtwork for its patented GTT (Genetic Transfer Technology) and metering rolls developed especially for the high definition printing. Apex is currently the only anilox roll manufacturer with this certification. ‘Spectacular printing results’ are said to have been achieved in numerous projects where Apex UniFlex S and XS metering rolls and the new HD-Flexo technology were combined.

Flexo trade shop Waldo is the first trade house in the UK to gain HD Flexo Certification from EskoArtwork. Waldo was the first in the UK to install HD Flexo, and is said to have achieved outstanding quality, improved efficiency and increased productivity.

Screening innovation

Hamillroad Software claims to have achieved the ‘Holy Grail’ of stochastic screening with its second generation ‘digitally modulated’ DM-II screening. According to Hamilroad, the patent-pending Auraia-II screening technology enables high-end violet and thermal platesetters to produce images that emulate the quality of a traditional 400-500lpi screen and produce rosette-free, moiré-free and noise-free flat tints that equal or better the smoothness of conventional screening.

Instant check on gravure print quality

RK Print Coat Instruments has introduced a compact benchtop device that enables users of press viscosity gravure ink to generate high quality proofs instantly on any flexible substrate. The GP100 incorporates a microprocessor controlled servodrive and employs the same electronically engraved printing plates used on the company’s Printing Proofer system.


Flexcel NX System’s lamination step prevents contact with the air and protects against oxidation. Kodak

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EskoArtwork
Apex
Hamillroad
RK Print Coat
LNS Print
Xrite
ThermoScientific
Agfa
GWG
Kodak