During FTA’s INFOFLEX 2021, members of the packaging value chain shared and discussed how they are addressing and adapting to the game-changing technologies now seen in the printing world.
As covered by different companies through the five-day exhibition, LED technology is gaining more space in this market and taking flexographic printing to a higher level of quality and consistency.
This article will touch on specific challenges faced in the flexographic plate making process when using the latest LED exposure equipment, compared to the conventional method known in the industry, and how this can be compared to the way you cook your steak. It will also touch on how flexographic plate suppliers are working to deliver an offering that allows printers and converters to get all the quality benefits these game-changing technologies afford.
Flexographic printing and plate making are on a constant journey to improve capabilities and performance to achieve higher and higher levels of quality and consistency. Photopolymer plates used for printing and the process of making these, are a deciding factor for the print quality that can be reached.
Flexographic plate makers can choose from a wide variety of UV exposure units that match their individual requirements. Let’s explain how optimized photopolymers can enable flexographic prepress companies and printers to achieve the best result, and what all this has to do with cooking the perfect steak. Why is finding the perfect fit between exposure settings and material important—and probably even more important than on conventional bank systems?
Conventional fluorescent tube systems (often referred to as “bank exposure”) are available in many sizes and with a variety of different features: double-sided exposure banks (as seen in Figure 1) with a glass table that allows back and main exposure without the need to flip plates, temperature-controlled exposure tables with dimmable fluorescent lamps for optimum consistency (as seen in Figure 2) as well as cost-efficient clamshell designs (as seen in Figure 3).
Recent developments in UV LED technology have opened the doors for LEDs to be used in curing inks and also in the flexographic plate making process. LED exposure systems are proving to bring many benefits to the plate making process, which are driving more flexographic prepress operations to invest in this exposure technology.
LED exposure systems promise several advantages over conventional systems:
- Standardized production and high consistency
- Less user interference and operator errors
- Use in combination with automation
- Day-to-day repeatability
- High quality
All of this can be achieved when selecting the optimal photopolymer and exposure parameter combination.