Miraclon & Zecher “Together for Golden Results” using Flexcel NX

Joint project to prove CYMK gold for flexo

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Miraclon & Zecher “Together for Golden Results” using Flexcel NX
The Miraclon Zecher case study print sample using Flexcel NX plates for flexo CMYK printing of gold on paper bags Photo Miraclon

Zecher the German manufacturer of anilox rollers for the printing and coating industry recently completed a project to demonstrate how consistent, high-quality results can be achieved with a variety of packaging applications that are produced on flexo using CMYK process colors and advanced technologies. The project, executed in cooperation with a range of partners, including Miraclon that provided the plates, aimed to prove that uniform color and image reproduction on a range of different substrates can be achieved using flexo. Repro quality and consistency of the packaging reinforce a brand’s identity and enhance consumers’ shopping experience.

An ambitious undertaking

To maximize the practical relevance, complex images typically found on packaging for foods, coffee, tobacco, cosmetics, and animal food were chosen. Subtle gradients in the highlights and fine details in the high tonal ranges were features shared by all the designs. A subject rich in contrast and showing a woman’s face completely covered in gold make-up proved to be a particular challenge for CMYK flexo printing. It was this subject that also inspired the motto for the project – ‘Together for Golden Results.’

Flexo gold using CMYK inks
Miraclon Zecher joint case study for reproduction of gold on BOPP film using Flexcel NX plates and Zecher SteppedHex anilox roller technology Photo Miraclon

Three applications were produced – flexible packaging (printed on BOPP film), corrugated preprint on 135 gsm paper fully coated on one side, and a paper carrier bag made from 100 GSM white-coated kraft paper.

Zecher anilox rollers equipped with Zecher’s SteppedHex engraving technology were used to print all three applications. This innovative engraving method is characterized by a unique, specially staggered cell geometry that helps optimize print quality.

Three applications, one Flexcel NX plate technology

All three applications were produced using Flexcel NX plates, made with Kodak Maxtone SX screening – which is optimized for the Flexcel NX system – and a 60 lines per centimeter (152 lpi) screen. “We selected Flexcel NX Plate technology based on its strong presence in the flexo market and the controlled ink transfer it delivers,” explains Jörg Rohde, head of Application Technology at Zecher.

The technical resources for producing the flexible packaging application were made available by machinery and systems manufacturer Windmöller & Hölscher (W&H) at its Printing Technology Center in Lengerich, Germany. And, as the facility houses a Flexcel NX Ultra Solution from Miraclon, the flexo plates could be made on the spot.

The corrugated preprint application was produced at Christiansen Print in Ilsenburg, Germany, using Flexcel NX plates from Schawk Goslar, while the paper carrier bag was printed at Stenqvist Austria with Flexcel NX Plates from Flex-Punkt Druckformen.

‘Golden results’ convince in every aspect

There were delays executing the project owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, there was no denying the brilliance of the results once it was completed. Everyone involved was excited – not only by the color consistency with remarkably close tolerances across all substrates but also by the outstanding image quality in the gradients and fine details. The striking reproduction of the golden face using just the capabilities of CMYK flexo printing with no additional spot colors was similarly impressive.

“We succeeded in demonstrating the high color consistency and comparable results that are achievable across a range of products and substrates with flexo printing today,” says Rohde. “The project confirmed that our Zecher SteppedHex anilox roller engraving technology facilitates the highest levels of color consistency in different flexo applications, and the Flexcel NX plate technology from Miraclon helped us do that. Provided all process parameters are precisely matched, ‘golden results’ like these are entirely feasible under real production conditions.”

“We are delighted to be part of a project that pushes the boundaries of flexo printing,” adds Nilgun Turan, marketing manager, Europe at Miraclon. “With their unmatched stability, optimized ink transfer and the wide tonal range it delivers, Flexcel NX plates enable the large color gamut that is a condition of applications like gold in CMYK – every time. The results of this project are clear evidence that innovation will continue driving flexo’s growing success in the market.”

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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– Naresh Khanna

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