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FTA offers free Design Guide built from FIRST 4.0

July 13, 2009

The downloadable document assists designers in producing flexo-friendly files.

The Flexographic Technical Association (FTA) has published a free Design Guide based on its newest publication, FIRST 4.0 (Flexographic Image Reproduction Specifications & Tolerances.) The educational text can be downloaded as a PDF from the FTA’s website.

The Design Guide boasts 35 pages that speak directly to the average graphics professional who may or may not have experience designing for flexography. It is based on the guidelines outlined in FIRST 4.0, but uses terms, definitions and language universal to artists and graphics firms, as well as all their industry partners – printers, prepress houses, brand owners, etc.

“The impetus for this project came about because, while the design section in FIRST 4.0 is robust, it is written with the printer and prepress provider in mind,” says Gary Hilliard, Hood Packaging, FFTA chairman, who helped spearhead the project.

“Our aim was to increase awareness of how-to design for flexographic printing and the packaging industry as a whole. There are an increasing number of companies bringing design functions in-house and hiring people just out of college with degrees in design. They have no concept of what the packaging field is all about, and package design may not have been their core competency. This new guide will serve as a good foundation for designing for flexo,” Hilliard adds.

Since the premier edition of FIRST (debuting in 1997), the book has become a valued technical resource for the flexographic industry. Its aim is to provide all participants in the flexographic reproduction process (i.e., customers, designers, prepress providers, raw material and equipment suppliers, and printers) with a common set of guidelines, tutorials, targets and tolerances that can be used as communication and production tools. When adhered to, these specifications improve quality, reduce cycle times, minimize rework and waste, and facilitate producing a predictable, consistent result, printrun after printrun.

FIRST 4.0 can be purchased at The rate for FTA members is $99.00 and for non-members, $198.00.