AUBURN, WA—Ampac, a flexible packaging converter and long-time Flexographic Technical Association member, serving the Seattle area, recently became the first EskoArtwork-certified HD Flexo user in the U.S. The facility specializes in surface-printed polyethylene printing. It handles a wide range of products, including film extrusion, bag conversion and shrink-wrap.
Ampac chose to move into HD flexography following the request of a customer looking to "take graphics to the next level," says Joe Lydic, Ampac's art director. "The client wanted more consistent color management, tighter detail in the screening, and a 150-line screen." Today, high-resolution optics and advanced screening technologies deliver 150-line screening at 4000 dpi with a smaller dot size and imaging quality that rivals offset.
"We always considered ourselves a very good printer with the auto blend hybrid dot," says Lydic."We don't use an extended gamut--we print very well with four-color process. The hybrid dot worked well for us”
Installation in June of 2010, included the existing CDI imager upgrade to the new optics and implementation of HD Flexo software, went smoothly. The rest of the workflow remains the same, including the anilox rollers and flexographic inks and solvents.
"We see a lot of positive attributes happening with solids and ink density," says Lydic. "A good 2400-dpi printer has a highlight dot from 9 percent-12percent. HD Flexo brings that range down to 3 percent-6 percent. When talking flexo, expanding highlights 6 percent is huge. When you image a fade or vignette with one-to-two colors with the hybrid dot in 2400 dpi, you have a rainbow effect or build-up—that’s not an issue with HD Flexo. You get a broader gamut range, sharper image, 150 lpi and tighter halftone dots. You get better ink transfer. From the testing we've done, imaging at 2400 dpi and imaging at 4000 dpi in, with all the same standards and gains, HD Flexo gives you more ink saturation."
Jobs once reserved for 150 line gravure can now move to 150 line flexo, eliminating the increased costs associated with gravure prepress. Customers now have the option of using lower-cost prepress for those shorter run packages with surface printed flexo poly or reverse printed flexo laminates, versus gravure printed packages, without quality loss. Make ready and time to market are also reduced by avoiding long gravure prepress backlogs, a benefit for both Ampac and its customers.