Miraclon white paper on overcoming unwanted ink spread

Tackling flexo’s fundamental issue improves on-press efficiency

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New white paper from MIraclon on unwanted ink spread that its PureFlexo technology addresses Image Miraclon
New white paper from MIraclon on unwanted ink spread that its PureFlexo technology addresses Image Miraclon

Announced at the end of March 2022, a new white paper from Miraclon takes an in-depth look at how the company’s PureFlexo printing technology overcomes unwanted ink spread. It says unwanted ink spread has been a fundamental challenge for solvent-based flexible film printing for as long as flexo has been around.

Unwanted ink spread happens when ink spreads outside the (original raised) image areas of the print surface of the flexo plate, forming solids, halftones, lines, and or text (whether positive or negative) with worse feature definition and other common color management defects. Ironically, it has become more widespread as brands adopt flexo as a high-quality printing process capable of the most challenging work, with packaging designs commonly produced at 120 – 150 line screens.

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Until now, brands, printers and converters have lived with it as a stubborn by-product of the highly fluid inks, non-absorbent substrates, high compression forces, and high press speeds used in the process. The ‘dirty print’ it causes means presses have to run slower, and unscheduled stoppages to clean plates become more frequent — an average of six per press per day, according to Miraclon’s research — and press setup latitude is reduced.

PureFlexo Printing – How advanced multifunctional plate surface patterning controls unwanted ink spread explains the causes of ink spread, illustrates the symptoms, and how the corrective workarounds press operators commonly take — adjusting impression forces, using harder tapes, and lower-viscosity inks — only exchange the initial problem for others, such as ink starvation, pinholes, voids and loss of density.

It then analyses in detail how PureFlexo printing, the latest, most advanced iteration of Miraclon’s groundbreaking plate surface patterning technology, leverages advanced structures just a few microns in size to distribute the impression load, hold ink, and deliver it more precisely to the substrate surface.

Years of research and expertise in understanding ink transfer mechanisms have gone into the development of PureFlexo Printing,” says author of the paper, Dr John Anderson, director of Advanced Print Applications at Miraclon. “The result is a remarkably improved print latitude for flexible packaging and a critical tool to break the corrective action cycle. This innovation offers substantial cost savings through greater press uptime, with further cost savings and positive environmental impact through reduced material and energy waste. It also allows for increased scheduling effectiveness post-press in the lamination and conversion processes.”

Copies of the paper are available to download at https://www2.miraclon.com/unwanted-ink-spread.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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