FQC/SWG Updates: Wrapping Up 2017 with a Busy Fall & Looking to 2018

Flexo Quality Consortium FQC LogoThe Flexo Quality Consortium (FQC) Executive Committee met in St. Louis at Fall Conference 2017 for its monthly meeting. There has been a lot of activity recently and the momentum is building as we complete existing projects and transition to new ones.

High-Resolution Printing Project

The High-Resolution Printing – Wide Web project team has completed two press trials already and is planning eight more in the coming months. That will create a lot of good data. To facilitate collection and reporting, the team is working on reading the data on site to engage the supporting companies and facilitate collection and reporting for the project—hands-on learning for sure!

The team is planning on getting all trials done and the data analyzed in preparation for a final report at Forum 2018. If you are one of the member companies supporting the team, you’ll be contacted soon (if you haven’t been already).

Plate & Mounting Tape Optimization Project

The Flexographic Plate and Mounting Tape Optimization project team is working on bringing together its final report and recommendations. It is also planning on having a presentation ready for Forum 2018. Preliminary results (presented at Forum 2017) provided insight into plate durometer and tape density interactions.

CxF Characterization Project

The CxF Characterization Project work is also complete (again, presented at Forum 2017) and the project has been closed. The team believes work will continue in this area and will coordinate with the Standards Working Group (SWG) to keep membership apprised of future activity. The final report has been written and the team is adapting the content for future publication in FLEXO Magazine if you missed the presentation.

New Projects

There are two new projects that are just beginning. The first is going to investigate the effects of temperature and humidity on ink behavior. This project was initiated based on input from FTA membership. The team is being formed right now, so if you are interested please contact any Executive Committee member for details and to volunteer.

The second project is going to focus on opacity measurements and test methods. Retail and CPC brand clients are concerned with the opacity or hiding power for white film and for white ink on clear film. ISO standards and test methods do not exist specifically for application in the printing industry. In addition, the instrumentation used in the industry varies by geometry, leaving the measured results in a state that is difficult to compare and/or communicate. This team is also forming right now and is looking for interested members and leadership. Contact any Executive Committee member and get involved!

SWG Update

The fall of 2017 saw many of the standards reviewed at the spring meeting of ISO TC 130 Graphic Arts Standards committee held June 4-11 at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Several of the standards have interest for the flexographic printing community and are highlighted here.

The ISO TC 130 Graphic Arts standards committee met Dec. 4-9 in Surakarta (also known as Solo) in central Indonesia. Look for the results of that meeting in a future update.

Working Group 2

The prepress data exchange group saw updates to:

  • ISO 12641-1 Graphic technology – Prepress digital data exchange – Part 1: Color targets for input scanner calibration. This standard was approved by the ISO late in 2016 and has been submitted by CGATS for national adoption by ANSI. The ballot was distributed and the U.S., including FTA, voted to adopt this standard. It is identical in content to the U.S. ANSI IT8/7.1 and IT8/7.2 targets containing 264 color patches
  • ISO/NWI/CD 12641-2 Graphic technology – Prepress digital data exchange – Part 2: Advanced color targets for input scanner calibration. This standard has been re-balloted at the committee draft (CD) stage and the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG), including FTA, has voted to approve with comments (there were five pages of comments). It is not aimed to alter existing target designs in ISO 12641-1, but to allow additional designs including updated target layouts as well as different target sizes. Very dark patches (chromatic and achromatic) are virtually unrepresented by the target layout of ISO 12641-1. New target designs, like more patches for an enhanced sampling of saturated and pastel colors (especially for archiving applications) offer chances for improving the analysis of non-linear scanner performance
  • ISO/DTS 15311-1.2, Graphic technology – Requirements for printed matter for commercial and industrial production – Part 1: Measurement methods and reporting schema. This second draft technical specification was approved by the U.S. TAG with some comments. This part of ISO/TS 15311 defines print quality metrics, measurement methods and reporting requirements for printed sheets that are suitable for all classes of printed products. Guidance as to which of these metrics to apply to any given category of product, along with acceptable conformance criteria, is provided in subsequent parts of ISO/TS 15311. Although this part of ISO/TS 15311 is expected to be used primarily to measure prints from digital printing systems, the metrics are general and may be applied to other kinds of print
  • ISO/FDIS 17972-3 Graphic technology – Color data exchange format (CxF/X) – Part 3: Output target data (CxF/X-3). The final draft international standard (FDIS) ballot was approved by the U.S. TAG with no comments. This document covers the use of CxF3 when exchanging data from ISO 12642-1 and ISO 12642‑­2. This document is not designed to replace ISO 12642-2 but to define an updated and verifiable method of data exchange using CxF3, acting as a supplement to ISO 12642-2:2006, 4.3 and 4.4 and the explicit information provided on layout of the targets. This document also provides a framework for reporting data and additional definitions that dictate and determine the layout information of the target that is not specified in the ISO 12642 series. Provision has been made to extend the format beyond the ISO 12642 series targets, including those that have non-CMYK input values
  • ISO/FDIS 17972-4, Graphic technology – Color data exchange format (CxF/X) – Part 4: Spot color characterization data (CxF/X-4). The standard was approved at the FDIS stage, the resolution of comments was distributed and a new version prepared. The resolution of the comments was discussed in Toronto. The supplementary files had some errors in them, corrections were made and the main document was edited to be consistent with the examples. ISO TC 130 has voted to accept the changes and publication should occur by the end of the year. The theme and direction of the standard has not been changed and users who produce documents that conform will still be in conformance. But it will now be easier for new users to see how to adopt and utilize the standard
  • ISO/DIS 19593-1, Graphic technology – Use of PDF to associate processing steps and content data – Part 1: Processing steps for packaging and labels. The results of a 30-day review were approved with comments by the U.S. TAG. The comments were reviewed at the meeting in December to see if the document should move forward to FDIS or be held back for a second draft international standard (DIS) ballot. ISO 19593-1 defines standardized mechanisms to store graphics objects and metadata corresponding to such processing steps in a PDF file. These mechanisms are intended to be generic and applicable in other segments of the printing industry than packaging and label production. Beside metadata identifying processing steps, requirements are defined describing how objects related to a particular processing step may interact with content of other processing steps or regular print content, e.g. objects related to a cutting processing step should not knock out regular print objects. Additional requirements define what objects can reasonably be part of certain processing steps; e.g. for a cutting processing step, halftone images are not sensible
  • ISO/NWI/CD 20616-2, Graphic technology – File format for quality control data and metadata – Part 2: Print Quality eXchange (PQX). This standard passed its CD ballot and the comments were discussed and resolved at the meetings in Toronto. A DIS ballot should be released within the next few months. This is the complement to Part 1 and has the design for a container in which to report the quality of a print job in a standardized format
  • ISO/CD 20677, Image technology color management – Extensions to architecture, profile format, and data structure. This draft standard was balloted for a second DIS ballot because there were a lot of comments. This ballot closed on Dec. 1. FTA has an opportunity to vote with the U.S. TAG. This standard is the ISO equivalent of the new ICC specification for color management known as “ICC MAX.” It will introduce a revolutionary change to color reproduction in much the same way Apple ColorSync did

If you would like to review and comment on any of the upcoming ballots on these standards, please contact FTA Director of Education Joe Tuccitto.

About the Authors: Jean Engelke is the chair of FTA’s Flexo Quality Consortium and a member of FTA’s Board of Directors and FFTA’s Board of Trustees. She has earned an AAS in graphic and design technology, a B.A. in printing management, an MBA and an M.A. in industrial engineering management. Jean started her career teaching printing and paper science at Western Michigan University. She has held positions in R&D, engineering and global product marketing with Appleton Papers, Alcan Packaging and Kodak. Currently she is the business development manager – packaging group for RR Donnelley. In 2017, she received the FTA President’s Award.

Dr. Danny Rich obtained a master’s degree in physics in 1977 from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, VA. In 1998, he joined Sun Chemical Corp. to direct the Sun Chemical Color Research Laboratory in the Daniel J. Carlick Technical Center in Carlstadt, NJ. He has been awarded the Nickerson Service award from the Inter-Society Color Council in 1999, the National Printing Ink Manufacturers award for Technical Achievement in 2008, a Thomas Alva Edison award for innovation by the Research Council of New Jersey in 2008, the Robert F. Reed Medal from the Printing Industries of America in 2013 and the Mattiello Memorial Award from the American Coatings Association in 2015.