Evolution of Flexo Printing Good for Industry
by Dave Miller
Anderson and Vreeland
Flexo printing continues to evolve, capitalizing on the mechanical advances in the presses themselves, improved materials and technological advantages.
Press manufacturers continue to improve in mechanical print quality and efficiencies. Makeready requires less time, there is less material waste and coming up to color is much quicker and more predictable. Quality is improving on every touch point to the press itself. We are just as excited to see these same attributes being applied to digital presses. These are all positive steps helping improve our industry as a whole.
We also see advances in plate materials, mounting tapes, sleeves, aniloxes, blades, curing, etc. Improved press performance allows plate manufacturers to refine plate attributes to specific applications. Theyre getting really good at identifying raw materials that provide better print quality for different substrates. Increased line screens, higher count anilox cylinders, mounting tape technologies and curing techniques are all contributing to great consumer products. We have never been more focused helping our customers choose combinations that yield better results, faster turnaround and reduce operating costs.
Key technological advantages improving flexo include advances in the process of exposing plate material with flat top dot technologies, either in the exposure process or integrated into the plate material itself. There are new screening technologies for high definition/high resolution allowing for 4000 to 5080dpi that have doubled the resolution. This improves type, drop shadows, highlight and shadow details that now print cleaner. For line work, everything looks sharper, positively effecting nutritional panels, micro printing and corrugated markets. There are CTP devices using higher wattage lasers and advanced optics to ablate the carbon masked plates. In the same pass, an LED exposure head now makes the face exposure process. LEDs used in exposing and curing are eco-friendly and last for thousands of hours while expanding our choice of substrates.
Plate manufacturers are satisfying the demand for higher resolution/line screen counts while reducing dot gain. With a firm understanding of process control, the right plate material and supporting products, makeready and uptime are optimized impacting profitability, labor and capacity.