Miraclon, home of KODAK FLEXCEL Solutions, today hosted its first Miraclon Innovates virtual event to introduce PureFlexo™ Printing, which enables KODAK FLEXCEL NX System users to produce high-quality flexo print within a wider operating window on press by controlling unwanted ink spread in ways never seen before. Designed specifically for wide web solvent ink on film applications, PureFlexo Printing maximizes press efficiency, repeatability and overall performance while enabling printers and prepress providers to experience cleaner print, stable color and a better bottom line for their business.
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, 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 $700/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 Printing – 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 System, PureFlexo Printing gives unprecedented control over unwanted ink spread, increasing print latitude at all quality levels. This extension of Miraclon’s knowledge in Advanced Plate Surface Patterning Technology, which has had over two years of testing in the field on over 20,000 commercial jobs, proves to:
- Reduce unscheduled press stops due to dirty print
- Deliver more predictable color
- Decrease press-to-proof match issues
- Lower the impact of 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
The benefits of PureFlexo Printing are felt throughout the value chain:
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 Printing 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.
“The launch of our core FLEXCEL NX Technology in 2008 helped to elevate flexo printing to compete head-on with other printing processes and addressed the inconsistencies traditionally associated with flexo,” says Schlotthauer as she puts Miraclon’s rich heritage of innovation into perspective. “Since then, we have continued the journey; building our knowledge in mechanisms to control ink transfer with a range of award-winning technology; first with the introduction of KODAK DIGICAP NX Patterning in 2010, and the subsequent introduction of our Advanced DIGICAP NX Patterning (commonly referred to as NX Advantage) with Advanced Edge Definition technology in 2016. PureFlexo Printing is the next step in unlocking the full potential of the FLEXCEL NX System, enabling flexible packaging printers to lead the charge in pushing the boundaries of flexo printing within a controlled, sustainable manufacturing environment.”
PureFlexo Printing is available immediately to all FLEXCEL NX System users through the KODAK FLEXCEL NX Print Suite for Flexible Packaging.
PureFlexo™ Printing – Customer Quotes
|“PureFlexo Printing is allowing us to achieve better press latitude and efficiency. It has also made it easier to implement several complimentary process changes, for example the ability to use softer tape, to further raise our print consistency and capabilities to continue our growth in the flexible packaging printing market. All of this is enabling an even faster response to our clients and their needs, and already even earned us industry recognition for an FTA award entry that was produced at 133 line screen utilizing PureFlexo Printing.”
Reece Young, Prepress Manager, Perfection Packaging, Australia
|“We started working with Miraclon and their R&D team to address a specific customer issue with PureFlexo Printing, but once we had reprofiled, we saw improvements with consistency reducing the frequency of adjusting the color profiles. PureFlexo Printing quickly progressed to be our default solution for all flexible packaging customers. They’re achieving quality and consistency levels that have amazed and excited brand clients.
The use of PureFlexo Printing has improved the predictability of the print on press, with less unwanted ink spread and the associated defects traditionally accepted as part of flexo printing. This has allowed the Kirks team to focus on bringing additional capabilities and value to our brand and printer clients and spending less time addressing traditional flexo challenges.”
John Kapiniaris, General Manager, Kirk Group, Australia
|“With PureFlexo Printing, we can use softer tapes and a wider range of anilox volumes while achieving the same target densities and optimal solid ink laydown. This means that we have more forgiveness on press and can continue achieving brand owners’ expectations with less traditional flexo print defects.”
Flexible Packaging Printer & Miraclon customer, Latin America
|“With PureFlexo Printing, we consistently observe and measure on-press benefits with reduced unwanted ink spread on the final prints, resulting in lower gain and less unscheduled press stops for cleaning. This helps us in prepress for even greater predictability and stability of print to proof match, with less sensitivity to on-press actions, including lower levels of compensation and adjustments traditionally needed to suit flexo printing.”
Dennis Schenfisch, Research & Development/Technical Support, Flex-Punkt, Germany
| “Typically, flexographers have struggled to use softer tapes because of increased void formation in the print, and increased risk of customer issues or even rejection of jobs. PureFlexo Printing has provided us a tool to enable the use of softer tapes for better highlights without the traditional flexo issues, increasing the opportunities and ability to economically take on more challenging customer jobs from other print processes and exceed customer expectations.”
Flexible Packaging Printer & Miraclon customer, Eastern Europe
|“PureFlexo Printing is enabling increased accuracy in the print vs digital file – the superior proof to press match has enabled extremely reliable separations and color retouching. This is thanks to a more linear response and reduced ink spread on press, which is allowing for longer production runs and better color profile consistency. The need for onsite color assistance has also been reduced, giving our customers more confidence in the process.”
Scott Thompson, VP Technical Sales and Innovation, SGS, USA
|“PureFlexo Printing is a game-changer for flexo printing. We have experienced reduction in the need for file and image preparation prior to proof due to a more linear response on press.
Our customers are seeing up to 8% reduction in unwanted ink spread on press, and since jobs are coming up to color 20% faster, the press operators are not needing to over impress, giving broader press latitude and increasing plate life – by up to 25%. Spot colors are running cleaner and with fewer defects reducing make-ready times and material wastes. With all these benefits, users have experienced up to 40% increase in linear production between stoppages.”
Tristan Zafra, President, Trisoft Graphics, USA