Miraclon, home of Kodak Flexcel Solutions, hosted its first Miraclon Innovates virtual event on 24 June to introduce its PureFlexo printing, a new process technique whereby print quality is improved with less fuss and less ink. PureFlexo enables Flexcel NX users to improve print quality within a wider operating window on press because it controls unwanted ink spread in ways never seen before in flexography.
According to Miraclon, the new process technique is an extension of its Advanced Plate Surface Patterning Technology, and has been tested over two years in the field on over 20,000 commercial jobs. It is designed specifically for wide web solvent ink on film applications, and by controlling ink spread maximizes press efficiency, repeatability and overall performance. The result is cleaner print, stable color and since it uses less ink, a more profitable operation. Controlling unwanted ink spread creates a wider operating window, reducing unscheduled press stops and maximizing efficiency for flexible packaging printers.
Emma Schlotthauer, chief marketing officer at Miraclon, comments, “For brands who rely more than ever on the power of packaging to connect with customers, brand consistency and eye-catching flexible packaging is increasingly important. Printers need solutions that help them meet the ever-expanding demands of graphic reproduction, without needing to operate at less than optimum production speeds or risking press downtime from continual adjustments and unscheduled stoppages. A wide print latitude is the key to profitable production. PureFlexo Printing addresses a core technical issue – unwanted ink spread – which helps to widen print latitude and reset the quality-efficiency balance.”
Print latitude, Miraclon unwanted ink spread and why printers should address it
Printers get the best out of their press machinery when they have the flexibility to run uninterrupted. They need wide latitude (also referred to as the operating window) and a robust process to manage production efficiently as a narrow latitude means small changes can push a print run out of acceptable quality or tolerances. By resisting unwanted ink spread, PureFlexo Printing gives printers the power to keep the press running with a low risk of getting to unacceptable print.
Dr John Anderson, director of Advanced Print Applications at Miraclon, explains how unwanted ink spread affects print latitude, “Ink that flows easily is a natural characteristic of printing with solvent flexo inks on film. When that ink flows in unwanted places it can fill in, cause bridging and build-up, creating ‘dirty print.’ It’s not always easy to manage and is often made worse by practices designed to address other print issues – such as the use of harder tapes, higher ink volumes and over-impression. PureFlexo Printing addresses the issue head-on by using sophisticated plate surface patterning to resist and control ink spread, and sets a new standard for clean, predictable print.”
Schlotthauer adds that PureFlexo Printing and the reduction of unwanted ink spread has major financial benefits for both printers and pre-press providers – “For example, if an unscheduled press stop to clean plates takes about 10 minutes, and with a typical billable press rate of around US$ 700 an hour you can easily start doing the math about the financial benefits in eliminating some of these stops. Add in the reduction of waste material and post-print capacity implications, and the need to address unwanted ink spread proves to be a particularly significant one.”
PureFlexo – resetting the quality-efficiency balance for flexo printers
Built on Miraclon’s expertise in highly controlled ink transfer mechanisms and further unlocking the core capabilities of the Flexcel NX plates and processing system, the PureFlexo technique allows better control over unwanted ink spread, increasing print latitude at all quality levels. An extension of Advanced Plate Surface Patterning Technology, two years of testing in the field on over 20,000 commercial jobs, show that it reduces unscheduled press stops due to dirty print and delivers more predictable color. The testing has demonstrated a decrease press-to-proof match issues and seems to have lowered the impact of the operator and other production changes.
“With lower dot gain and significantly reduced ink build-up during a run, PureFlexo Printing not only brings a more predictable match to a press color profile, it also reduces the need to stop the press to clean plates,” adds Dr Anderson. “This results in much greater production efficiencies while producing a high-quality result. The complete prepress and printing process becomes more efficient.”
Benefits for prepress providers, printers and brands
Printers report that greater resistance to common production issues means that challenging work can now be produced more consistently and with greater uptime. Notably, Flexcel NX plates with PureFlexo can typically use a softer mounting tape without compromising image reproduction. This helps reduce voids and the need to over-impress – further increasing plate life.
Prepress providers can break the cycle of chasing color, retouching and remaking plates. Trade shops that have tested the technology report a significant reduction in image retouching and file preparation prior to proof due to a more linear response, and a more accurate press to proof match – reducing the need for client press approvals.
PureFlexo Printing, utilizing newly patented Miraclon technology created by the same R&D team responsible for the invention of the original Flexcel NX System launched in 2008, builds on the innovation that Miraclon has brought to the market over the past 13 years. PureFlexo Printing is available immediately to all Flexcel NX System users through the Kodak Flexcel NX Print Suite for flexible packaging.