Reprofl ex3 boosts quality of flexo

Project Blue aims to replicate gravure quality through prepress technology

Around the Western world, the gravure print process is currently being cannibalised by flexography.
We see this as short-lead production turnarounds become more frequent. Nobody wants inventory, either client side or manufacturing side. Also we see more reactive on-pack marketing and price points and decorated multipack wraps are very common especially for regional promotions.
Gravure simply cannot deliver the flexibility brands are demanding. Brands are looking to reduce their costs of packaging. With techniques and technologies such as fixed colour palette printing in seven or four colours, print efficiencies are becoming a prerequisite if you want to be a mass supplier.
We have seen tremendous advances in all flexo component technologies over the last 10 years to what we see now badged as HD flexo. But printing HD quality in flexo requires a huge focus on consistency of all components. If this occurs then a brand owner can expect gravure quality flexo print.
But that’s easier said than done. Since 2008 and the launch of the flat top dot by Kodak there has been many iterations of HD print components HD Inks, 5080dpi laser technology, hybrid screening, High-resolution anilox cell patterns and many more …. The printer/converter’s challenge is to choose the best in class of each, then optimise them on his press.
This is a complex task, needing not only a solid budget for hardware but the right team to ensure the right results. Get this wrong and the print results and production efficiencies can reproduce worse than conventional lower-definition flexo print.
In 2015 Reproflex3 started Project Blue to deliver “a true gravure replacement print quality through prepress techniques”. First the shelf impact had to be at least as good as gravure. Fixed palette printing was also a must to eliminate process complexities all the way through the artwork development process. Preferably it should be four colours. Also, there should be some added value in terms of consumer engagement so digital connectivity should be a requirement. Consideration to brand protection and anti-counterfeiting also needed development. The technology was developed and launched early 2016.
Project Blue delivers all the above together with features that deliver great production efficiencies to the printer converter. The print quality is quick and easy to setup on press once all the components are qualified. No need for HD inks, 100% tonal range meaning those soft fades to 0% and detailed shadow areas that have not been achievable in flexo before are now a reality. The definition can replicate 600ppi digital data and over 300lpi in print. This is achieved by a unique patent pending ink transfer system that has been developed in partnership with Sandon Global, an anilox supplier, known for its excellence in the engraving field.
The system is delivered by Reproflex3 supplying and calibrating the colour management around the specially developed anilox and cell surface patterned polymer plate. Once calibrated, the prepress can be carried out in fixed pallet delivering approximately 10% extra PMS colours
from a standard HD setup.
The feedback from the market has been very positive and many global brands are now using the technology in conjunction with the Reproflex3 print client base. Following successful implementation in six European printers, Reproflex3 is looking for packaging printer clients in the Middle East and Africa to implement Project Blue to help with fulfilling the requirements of brand owners in their quest of converting gravure to flexo.

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