Uncertainty, edge of the seat anticipation, shattered dreams—these feelings should be restricted to NCAA tournament brackets and be far removed from package printing. That was the overall theme put forth by the nine speakers who covered topics like optimized ink delivery, modern plate technologies, UV LED curing and cleaning aniloxes with lasers at the APR March Madness Open House, March 16 at the company’s Glendale Heights, IL headquarters.
Approximately 60 attendees—a mix of printers and prepress professionals—listened to eight presentations at FTA member All Printing Resources, and got demonstrations from numerous pieces of equipment, including APR’s Bobst M5 Digital Flexo Press (a 2015 Technical Innovation Award winner).
Pam Dorough from 3M began the day with a discussion of mounting tape and its critical role in achieving optimal print quality. She explained why 3M continues to produce new tapes: As the industry continues to change and evolve, customers bring new problems to the company, which then looks for solutions by developing new options.
Pam then spoke about how increasing plate durometer and press speed, without accounting for these changes in tape selection, affects print quality. Increasing either durometer or speed leads to a decrease in ink density; the solution is to choose a tape that is firmer. “Whether its round top or flat top, conventional or hybrid screening, mounting tape continues to be a key variable affecting print quality,” she said. “It is more important than ever to understand your process and work closely with your supplier partner.”
Joel O’Leary from AMS SPECTRAL UV – A Baldwin Technology Co. spoke second, on UV LED curing. He gave an overview of what LED curing is, likening it to “hunting with a sniper’s rifle” and offering some of its most enticing features—chips that last up to 40,000 hours of use, zero ozone generated, no warmup time and less energy usage. Using LED, Joel explained, can both increase profits and reduce expenses through a combination of running the press with fewer bottlenecks and using fewer resources to do so. Notably, utility companies may subsidize the cost of LED equipment, in the name of reducing energy consumption.
APR’s own Dan Muthig, part of the company’s Technical Solutions Group, preceded the day’s first coffee break with a presentation on ink delivery. He opened with a look at doctor blade selection, explaining there are steel, coated steel, composite and Mylar options; the important thing is to find what works in your press. Similarly, a shop’s choice in blade tips—square, rounded, bevel and lamella—should be based on ink type and formulation, print application, press type and performance expectations.
Once the proper blade has been chosen, a corresponding end seal needs to be selected. An improper pairing, Dan explained, can result in ink leak. “High quality, accurate and consistent end seals are critical to minimize ink leaking, optimize blade life and smooth ink laydown,” he noted. “Customization is key to meet specific customer requirements.”
Post coffee break, Catherine Haynes, also from APR’s Technical Solutions Group, gave a review of plate technologies new to the industry. She began with an overview of offerings from MacDermid Graphics Solutions and Dantex before recommending a series of best practices for quality control in the plate making process. Two and three dimensional analysis, Catherine explained, enable the capture of fine details like dot percentages and plate wear.
Next, Esko’s Larry Moore asked two questions of the audience: Who is a converter (a majority of the crowd) and who makes money from premedia services (nobody in the crowd). He then gave a look at his company’s products and services offerings designed to turn prepress into a revenue source.
Larry’s coworker Julian Fernandez demonstrated a workflow handled by Esko’s Device Manager for CDI and Automation Engine and finished with a look at expanded gamut (EG) printing, highlighting its effects on cost (reducing the use of spot colors and less time spent on makeready), quality (enhancing CMYK images to seven colors) and matching digital and flexo (“most digital presses have a wider gamut than flexo presses”).