Initially released in 1997, Flexographic Image Reproduction Specifications & Tolerances (FIRST) 6.0 is the sixth major revision to what is the ultimate flexography resource. Designed to provide all members of the flexographic supply chain with the technical information needed to produce high-quality and consistent print results, this publication assists in successful printing, pressrun after pressrun.
What Is FIRST?
FIRST seeks to understand customers’ graphic requirements for reproduction and translates those aesthetic requirements into specifications for each phase of the flexographic printing process, including: customers, designers, prepress providers, raw material and equipment suppliers, and printers. Its intention is to provide all participants in the flexographic reproduction process with a common set of guidelines, tutorials and data that can be used as communication and production tools.
FIRST is a set of specifications, not standards. When followed, these specifications facilitate producing a predictable, consistent result. The process and specifications supported intend:
- To outline key flexographic procedures and guidelines to be used from the beginning of the process to the end, including the implementation, design, prepress and print processes
- To improve quality and consistency through improved communication and measurement procedures
- To reduce cycle time and minimize rework through improved process control methodology
- To control production costs through streamlined raw materials and process improvement methodology
- To enable consumer product companies (CPCs) to obtain optimal flexographic print quality, which equals or exceeds offset lithography and gravure printing
- To grow the overall flexographic printing industry through increased market share of an expanding market
What’s Inside FIRST 6.0?
Communication & Implementation
Communication is the foundation of FIRST. Using agreed upon terminology and a defined workflow, FIRST seeks to minimize miscommunication and promote the manufacture of consistent, conforming flexographic materials. To that end, the communication and implementation section of FIRST provides the reader with a solid understanding of what they will find throughout the rest of the FIRST Document. They will learn more about internal and external communication practices, while focusing heavily on FIRST Methodology—optimization, fingerprinting, process control, characterization and process improvement.
Graphic designers will find value in FIRST‘s design section, as it was assembled to assist in producing packaging graphics specific to the flexographic industry. This section teaches designers the basics of getting started and recognizing the attributes of flexographic printing. It also educates them on specific type and design elements, digital photography parameters, document structure and format, specific file formats and their usages, as well as preflighting tips for the final design prior to release to the printer. In addition, FIRST offers a free Design Guide, available to download and share with design partners.
The prepress section provides graphic artists with the tools necessary to perform their daily job functions at their absolute best. Throughout this section, prepress experts will find data, tutorials and common practices that will help enhance their daily workflows. These practices include electronic/digital file formats used, as well as job assembly practices to include image trapping, text and graphic elements, vignettes/gradations, bar code considerations and template layout. The prepress section also covers process color calibration techniques, file output parameters, color proofs and general printing plate specifications.
The printer is responsible for reproducing a design accurately and consistently, both throughout the pressrun and between pressruns. The ability of the printer to measure and control their process directly impacts the quality of the printed piece, the efficiency of the pressrun and the overall time-to-market of the new product. Throughout this section, the printer learns more about print evaluation and the measurement tools used to control process color print characteristics, and develops an understanding of press component print variables and job-specific print variables, including substrates, inks and other pressroom consumables. The printer will also determine the best operating parameters for its ink metering system, plate package and press settings, all while learning common testing procedures performed during the production process.
From “abnormal color vision” to “Zahn Cup,” FIRST 6.0 features an all-encompassing glossary section which includes concise definitions for more than 400 common industry terms, acronyms and other flexography jargon.
The appendix section includes vital contact information for other industry organizations, a completely revamped reference standards and specifications section, a quick-reference section for the control and test targets used throughout the book, as well as other useful information.
Want to suggest something for a future edition of FIRST, or make a comment on an existing portion of the latest edition? Visit the FIRST Comments page to voice your opinion.
Get copies of FIRST 6.0 with your company’s logo. They’re perfect for employees (to outfit your workforce with a vital resource), or current and prospective business partners.