Find all the new updates of the Flexographic Industry
Tips for your sleeves
A printing sleeve plays an important role in influencing the quality of the print. Tech Sleeves published a newsletter last week stating some tips to ensure that the sleeves stay in perfect condition and to improve the life of a sleeve. A few tips are shared below:
1: Storing the sleeves
Storing the sleeve in an upright position prevents them from deforming with time. Storing them at a consistent temperature and humidity prevents early aging of the sleeves.
2: Avoid silicon spray
Using silicon spray in the pre-press department can prevent the tape from sticking properly to the sleeve. This can result in low quality printing.
The sleeves should be cleaned before and after use. Wiping it with a dry cloth before use, removes any dust and particles that can prevent tape from sticking properly. The sleeves should be cleaned immediately after use to avoid traces of ink residue.
4: Cutting knife
The cutting knife should be at a slight angle while cutting tape to ensure a tight fit. This reduces the chance of the knife slipping and damaging the sleeve.
Spread force equally along the width of the plate or tape while demounting it. Excessive pressure on the edges of the plate or tape can lead to plate as well as sleeve damage.
For more details, you can check out their newsletter.
If you have any more tips or interesting informative news to share with the industry, let us know and get a chance of being featured in our next article.
Common printing problems
There are a lot of problems when it comes to print jobs. Sometimes we do not even know how they happen or why. Here, you can find some of the most common printing problems; hoping that it will help you identifying the problems and to understand why they happen.
Problem 1: Printing defects
Printing defects are caused by a lack of ink in some parts of the image due to insufficient printing pressure or anilox pressure. This results in an uncomplete image, having white spaces within the printed area. Another reason could be that the ink is running out in the ink fountain or the substrate is not even, therefore resulting in a defect print.
Problem 2: Register variations
This happens when the colour of the ink varies during the print. It is due to the eccentricity in the plate cylinder or wear of the gears of the plate cylinder or excess of the tension caused by the pull of the web roll. The colour registration is wrong which leads to in incorrect colour overlay.
Problem 3: The ink wrenches off the paper fibre
It occurs a lot when printing on corrugated substrates and self-adhesive paper. Therefore, the ink acts like a glue and wrenches off the paper fibre. This is due to ink with a very high tack or when the sum of the inks in the area is very high (above 300% in the case of paper).
Problem 4: Missing dots
This is due to natural wear offs of the press in long press runs. The effect is more frequent in highlight areas, because the dots are more fragile. It could also be because of the use of an aggressive brush while cleaning the plate. Soft brushes are recommended when cleaning plates for protective measures.
Problem 5: Ghosting
Ghosting is a printing defect that has the appearance of a weak image over areas of thick lines and solid image areas. It often appears when printing text, whereas the text only appears as a “ghost” of the initial print with a very low visibility. It can be caused by the low volume of the anilox, very siccative ink or air on the anilox.
What further print effects did you face and how did you solve them? Please let us know and get a chance of being featured in our next week’s article.
What are photopolymer
"Flexography" go its name in 1951, after the president of the Mosstype Corporation conducted a poll to decide on a name for the printing method. After 200 names were submitted, a sub-committee eventually decided on a name: the "flexographic process". But what was the deciding factor which was responsible for the newly born concept? The revolutionary flexographic printing plates. Let us take a deeper look on the name-giving piece.
Flexographic printing plates used to be made of natural and synthetic rubber. Photopolymers have replaced those materials due to the high dimensional stability and uniform thickness. Depending on the job to be printed, different thicknesses of the photopolymers have to be chosen The flexographic plates have image areas in relief, so the images stand out in relief. This can be compared to a dot which is on top of a certain base height. The ink gets transferred to the top of the dot and then eventually onto the substrate.
Getting ink on the printing plate is as important as getting it off again. To do so, a solvent that was utilised in the printing ink should be used. After the printing process is finished, the plate should be cleaned soon afterwards. However, it should not rest in cleaning solvent for too long as the solvent can attack the plate. Therefore, soft brushes are recommended to be used. After the cleaning process is finished, the plate has to be dried properly. Various possibilities are available such as UV curing methods or by blowing air over the surface to evaporate residual water.
Photopolymer plates are, despite their robust structure, likely to be damaged if not stored properly. The plates should be thoroughly cleaned and stored without an excess of weight or tension pushing on them. Furthermore, they should be stored in a cool and well ventilated place belov 25 ° C. For wrapping the plates, paper instead of plastic substrates should be used. Photopolymer plates consist of multiple layers with different functions. This varies from plate to plate and from manufacturer to manufacturer. Toyobo' water washable plates, for instance, consist of six layers: a base polyester film, an adhesive and anti-halation layer, a photo-sensitive polymer layer, an oxygen inhibition layer, a laser ablation layer and a protective layer.
There is a multitude of possible defects which can occur if a poorly manufactured photopolymer printing plate has been chosen Therefore, selecting the right printing plate is incredibly important. It might be a good idea to curry out tests and comparisons, and to examine the results carefully.
What experiences have you made with photopolymer printing plates? Please share your experience in the comments or Contact us!
Flexography in comparison
is it the best printing method?
Flexography, like any other printing method, has been going through a lot of changes. Since its invention in the early 1900s, it has been revolutionized and innovated many times. But is flexography really the best choice when it comes to your printing needs? We are going to answer this question in the following lines.
First, let us go through the features of flexography. Certainly, the most advantageous is the versatility. After all, flexography covers the art of printing on any flexible material, including cellophane, metallic films and plastics. The inks used are not only more environmental friendly, but also more cost-efficient and no other specially manufactured or costlier substrates are needed to finalise the print. Moreover, flexography is by far the fastest printing technology: while digital and lithographic prints might take days to be finished, flexography provides an average of 300 meters per minute.
For large printing press companies, particularly, this advantage highlights all flexographic alternatives and combines with the speed and repeatability of jobs that low costs throughout the process, without diminishing the results.
Looking at all these benefits of flexographic printing, why would people still go for the alternative of digital printing for instance? Most probably, because they know their needs. Flexography is the best choice for medium to large print runs. However, not every printing company is producing in these quantities. Digital printing is ideal for short print runs, as it does not require a printing plates or mounting jobs, but is simply digitally sent to the printer; ideal if the demand is to obtain individual prints. Moreover, digital print runs can be set up far more quickly than alternative methods as there is no need for setting up additional equipment. The longer the print jobs get though, the least cost-efficient digital printing will be. High ink costs, click charges and other factors contribute to the fact that companies with high volumes should switch to flexographic printing.
Finally, we can say that flexography is still the leading technology in the printing industry. Nevertheless, both flexographic and digital printing have their very own advantages. If you have short print runs or a lot of variety of print jobs, digital printing might be a good option for you. In any other case, flexography is the way to go. That brings us to answering our question from the start: it depends on you. Whether flexography or digital printing, the best choice is to pursue a good advice and to get all information needed about what suits you best.
Do you know other advantages of flexography? Send us your comments and remarks! Let us share your experience and help others with finding their best printing solutions. Contact us!
How technology is changing in the
flexographic Printing industry?
The recent economic crisis has affected the entire world. The printing industry has suffered a great drop, the flexographic industry has been the less affected nevertheless the outstanding competition like digital printing is becoming a real threat. However, the flexographic industry is still growing, it represents more than the half of the printed packaging market and innovation is driving the industry through a lot of changes.
The flexographic printing industry has been improved by continuous developments. These include advancements in plate technology, improved methods to mount plates, print unit and press design, anilox rollers, inks and drying systems. The biggest piece of the cake will be taken by the one who innovates the most. These opportunities will open new possibilities for a lot of companies. But a new environment also bears new risks. Whether individuals will flourish or not will highly depend on their technological investment decisions and how it adapts to the changes.
Knowing in advance if deciding for an investment is a peculiar task not suitable to all. There are several practices which are said to take advantages of technology changes regardless. This includes improved plate materials and imaging, maximum developed process colour to minimise press downtime, the use of independent servo motors for a better press control and an optimized prepress workflow for an increase in quality and turnaround.
However, prepress has suffered the most changes since plate technology has been developed and the images now have a great quality with a lot more details. This means that the quality has improved while the time and cost of artwork production has reduced. Also the improvement on the quality of the ink has influenced the printing quality because now inks are more soluble and therefore it ensures better press stability and cleaner printing. Another major development has been UV curing methods, both Arc & LED which have served to significantly reduce downtime and energy costs.
In a nutshell, technology developments are a major influence in the flexographic industry. Companies are trying to adapt themselves to the new trends of the market. The industry itself is changing and these trends are driving the growth and prosperity to it.
How to explain flexographic industry
to an outsider?
Ever found yourself in a fix as to how to explain flexographic industry to an outsider? It’s easy to explain what a shoe manufacturer or a toymaker does, and people can already deduce what their job is. But when it comes to talk about the “Flexographic industry”, people just stare at you like it is the weirdest thing they’ve ever heard. Amongst the zillion industries of the world, flexography is not a well-known industry.
What is flexography?
The word flexography is derived from the Latin word “flexus” literally translated as “bending”. Flexographic industry lies under the umbrella of the printing industry with over 60% of the printed packaging industry comprising of flexographic printing. It all started in 1980 in Liverpool, when the first patented flexographic press was built by Bibby, Baron and Sons. To explain in layman’s terms, flexographic printing can be associated with a rubber stamp printing method.
Flexographic printing process
The typical flexo printing process starts with a substrate. A substrate is the base material on which printing is done. The substrate passes through multiple stations and each station prints a single color. Colors like Magenta, Cyan, Yellow and Black are overlaid to get the various shades.
The typical process is as follows:
Applications of the flexographic printing
Flexographic presses can produce good quality impressions on many different substrates and is the least expensive and simplest of the printing processes used for decorative and packaging printing. Therefore, it is arduous to imagine a day without crossing a flexographic product. Around you, you will find many products, be it grocery or office-supplies, which are printed with flexography. Packaging flexography is used for printing folding cartons, labels, foil and packaging materials for food and drinking materials, etc. Decorative flexography can be used to print envelopes, wallpaper, gift wrapping paper, etc. Some examples of publication flexography are in the production of business forms, newspapers, comics, directories, catalogs, etc. Flexographic printing has a wide application.
tesa tec day: Is tape a major influence
on the printing process?
On 21st March 2017, the tesa Tec Day was hosted by AV Flexologic, All Flexo and Tech Sleeves in Alphen aan den Rijn, the Netherlands. Together, the group of approximately 50 people discussed interesting topics such as problems faced by the customers, the importance of tape in the printing process and factors holding back the industry. The hosts were companies member of the Colour Control Group, managed by Piet Otten and Martijn Otten.
The tesa group not only exhibited most of their products, including new releases, from normal to double adhesive tapes. The importance of good quality tape in the printing process was also highlighted in a discussion about the most different problems faced by customer while mounting and demounting the tape -where the dependency is still on the operator- to issues faced while automatic mounting. In summary, the conclusion was that “A tape is not a simple detail in the prepress printing process but a very important factor to count on.”
After the presentations, all the participants made a guided visit to the construction hall of AV Flexologic, All Flexo and Tech Sleeves. Machines like the FAMM 2.0, the SAMM 2.0 were seen in action. They are the best mounting machines due to their innovative features; their fully automatic system allows presses to save time and costs as the operator can attend other tasks. Another machine demonstrated was the Sleeve Storage System, which allows easy access, storage and retrieval of sleeves with an optional semi-automatic feature. The Demounter which is plate friendly and it is very easy to use, saving a lot of time was also displayed. Cosmoline is a multifunctional machine that can dry and clean the plates in the same machine was showcased. The special feature of Cosmoline is that the plates are dried with UV light. Finally, the TAMM which is a tape applicator and which is still in R&D was also disclosed.
This event was a great opportunity to share valuable information that will improve the flexographic printing process and change the industry. The event ended with a nice dinner well deserved after a long day.
From italy to germany:
Actual flexo trends
This week two events occurred for the Flexographic Industry. One is the ProFlex conference which was located in Stuttgart, Germany on the 8th and 9th of March. The other one is Flexoday, located in Salerno, Italy on the 9th of March. A lot of different players are attending these annual events in which subjects like new technologies, innovations, opportunities and threats of the market are discussed.
The Flexographic Industry is steadily growing with new innovations on technology, software, materials and production methods. A lot of new players want to come into the market, while the experienced players who have been present for years in the industry are still competing in the pool, trying to get the biggest market share. Even if the market is still growing, new printing methods are coming up and represent a threat to flexographic printing. One is called digital printing which represent 4% of the overall number of prints worldwide with roughly 22 billion prints. The growth of this type of printing is mainly due to its numerous advantages, it’s a very fast and convenient method of printing. In such times of change, individualization and customization are two main factors which are becoming more and more important for the industry.
Despite the fact of digital printing emerging rapidly, the various demands on flexographic packaging is becoming a great opportunity. This was one of the most important topics discussed at ProFlex. The demand for labels is increasing exponentially, principally for pharmaceutical packaging, food packaging and tobacco packaging. For the pharmaceutical packaging, new legislations force pharmacies to label everything to show what is inside of the products; therefore, every label has to be customized for each company. Additionally, the rise of population has augmented the demand for food and tobacco packaging; it is not only seen as packaging itself anymore but as advertisement, therefore each company has to differentiate itself from the competition with its own customized packaging. Moreover, the demand for bio-diverse packaging is increasing because people want to be more sustainable.
A recent topic discussed during these events was the industry 4.0. Everything is connected to the Internet, known as Internet of things. This futuristic approach would state that if everything was automated, there will be less mistakes and all the processes will be faster. The industry is far from implementing it, however companies are innovating and starting to think of new ways of improving their businesses.
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