How Fusion Flexo Embraces HYBRID Software’s Workflow Suite & Its Workflow for an Actual Job

Assessing Job

Fusion Flexo’s customer service department is the first point of contact when receiving a new job. If the artwork is too complex, it might get reviewed before customer service even writes up the order. Prepress will study the job and then suggest changes to be communicated back to the client.

Orders and item specs are entered by customer service into the database. “We are currently in the process of moving to the HYBRID Software Facelift module. Facelift can create custom, web-based job tickets and integrates with CLOUDFLOW,” remarks Boyd. “We’re about 70 percent done; just going through the final changes and refinements.”

HYBRID Software Agness Original Artwork
The original artwork file delivered to Fusion Flexo

If there are changes or client alterations, all of this hand-written information is backfilled into the database when the job is closed. It’s a very manual process, but once the Facelift work is done, Fusion Flexo will be able to enter all changes directly into the job as the work is being done. Once the quote is approved, artwork is sent.

Improving Artwork

“A job like this would be preflighted by our prepress department, using software and relying on our years of flexo expertise,” Boyd explains. “I’m sure everyone has faced the same issues at times. Sometimes fonts are missing and not sent to us. Line art is too thin. Images are not the right resolution. Other times, there are way too many colors.”

HYBRID Software Agness Original Artwork vs FF 1up
The original lines (left) were boosted (right) to make room for trapping. The screened, gray lines were also converted to solid black because each dash would have contained just a couple halftone dots.

Halftones were adjusted in Adobe Photoshop and relinked back into PACKZ. “We went back and forth with the customer to make sure we delivered exactly what it wanted,” remembers Boyd. Adobe Illustrator is used mostly just for making changes to the actual art—not required for this job.

As a quick note, another part of the job included a package that was a little less colorful—also containing a light gray screen in the background. Fusion Flexo had to do a lot of work on this because there was not enough contrast. It had 1 percent and 2 percent dots and would not have printed cleanly. The team adjusted the mask using curves in Photoshop to gain contrast and make the mask stand out from the background.

This job had a number of CMYK builds. Fusion Flexo converted some of them to spot colors to make it easier to print on Buckeye Packaging’s 8-color Nordmeccanica flexographic press.

Originally, the blue in this job was delivered as process—as was the flag. “We ended up spotting out the red and the blue (which includes the type), and then we did the same thing with the American flag. We used the existing red and blue from the package. There was no varnish; just white, CMYK, a Pantone 185 red, and Pantone 534 blue,” notes Boyd.

HYBRID Software Agness S&R
Shawn Andrus, Fusion Flexo lead plate maker, delaminates the Flexcel NX plate from the TIL.

Line Work

Then there was the line work. “We help the printer determine how it’s going to print a job. The printer will provide a spec sheet and we try to follow it—but for this job, for example, there was no way to make the trap asked for,” Boyd admits.

It is not possible to follow the client’s direction all the time. It would be difficult to trap the thin lines in the illustrations, so they were made thicker. “We just boosted them to make room to trap the yellow. It can be a little challenging at times,” he adds. “I also converted all the screened, gray lines to solid black because at 100 linescreen, each dash would have contained just a couple halftone dots.”

A number of prepress editing tasks were done, including remapping the colors, barcode creation, trapping and changing line weights. “We’ve got PACKZ down to a science. It’s a very good native PDF editor and it allows us to do things that we just couldn’t do before,” comments Boyd.

Getting to “Yes”

Typically, proofs go to the end customer: the brand or the agency. There are many people copied on these proofs. With this particular job, Fusion Flexo created a one-up PDF proof for customer approval. Once the PDF was approved, a color-managed hard-copy proof was generated using the on-site EFI system. This was sent directly to the brand owner for approval.

Fusion Flexo also uses a compare tool as a step in its internal QC process. “Before I send a file out for approval, I will take the one-up and compare it to the supplied artwork. Using the compare tool is easy. You just set the ruler to the same element in both PDF files. You can flash between them, just flipping between A and B,” explains Boyd. “This is great, because it is considerably easier than doing it on a light table using two prints. Comparing the two PDF files gives us peace of mind knowing that nothing shifted or dropped off the artwork.”