The Forum 2018 Session’s Co-Chairs Lead Off an Article Series Focused on Its Print Project & Adherence to FIRST
To some in the flexographic industry, Flexographic Image Reproduction Specifications & Tolerances (FIRST) is known as 404 pages of theoretical principles with little or no use in the pressroom.
It might be useful as a marketing tool to assure customers you are a leader in manufacturing best practices, but as a printer, you have jobs to get out the door and you know that taking the time to work through the FIRST methodology will only slow you down. Understanding that so many in our industry feel this way, it was obvious that we needed to demonstrate the value of FIRST in the pressroom; as a result, the Forum 2018 session titled “FIRST in Motion” was born.
This Is Not the First Time…
That is not to say the value of FIRST principles has not been demonstrated before. In fact, this has been a common theme in many of the technical sessions at FTA events for the past 20 years. Numerous “Cover Projects” have been done highlighting new technologies while following the FIRST methodology. Not to diminish the value of these past projects, but many were done in very tightly controlled settings, either at a university or in a demo center, and on narrow web presses. Consequently, our No. 1 objective with the project at the center of the “FIRST in Motion” session was to run on a wide web film press in a bona fide production environment.
The term “bona fide” comes from the Latin meaning “in good faith” and it stresses the absence of fraud or deception. This project had to be run like any other production job. There would be no adjusting data or re-running something that did not meet our preconceived notions. We all felt more information would be garnered from discussing issues that came up during production than by pretending there were no issues at all. While it is easy to make this type of statement, no one likes to admit—let alone discuss—areas that need improvement in their production, so getting a printer to agree to this could have been a real problem. Fortunately, Bob Coomes was the Forum 2018 chair and his company, Plastic Packaging Technologies LLC, understood that participating in this project would benefit it in the long run. We greatly appreciate the team at Plastic Packaging Technologies LLC; they did an extraordinary job.
Every job has three principal participants: the customer, the printer and the trade shop. In keeping with our guiding principle that this should be treated like any other job, we solicited the help of a trade shop that has worked with Plastic Packaging Technologies LLC—The ALC Group and its associates at VENN49 Creative Lab. It should be noted that while the “FIRST in Motion” team may have taken measurements and overseen production, it was The ALC Group that did the vast majority of the prepress work.
The last participant in the project was, of course, the customer. In this case, the customer was everyone involved: the “FIRST in Motion” team, Plastic Packaging Technologies LLC, The ALC Group, FTA and you, the Association’s membership who were to be at Forum 2018. What the “customer” wanted was quite straightforward: The package had to be printed to FIRST specifications using the FIRST methodology. A simple statement, but exactly what does it mean to print to FIRST specifications? As a team, we decided the three main criteria were as follows:
- The inks would match ISO 12647-6 specifications
- The proof would be generated to match ISO 15339; CRPC 6
- Spot colors would be measured and controlled using ISO 20654