Omet, an Italian flexo press manufacturer, and Asahi Photoproducts, a supplier of photopolymer plates, have produced a series of controlled tests to “define all parameters that influence flexo printing”. At its Graphic Arts Center in Brussels, Asahi designed a test form incorporating full-color images that were retouched and separated specifically for flexo printing. Results were assessed using spectrophotometers and color management data rather than traditional densitometers. The information formed the basis for Asahi to produce a quantity of its latest AFP DSH 1.14 digital printing plates within a controlled environment.
The plates were shipped to Omet’s Lecco factory for use on a Varyflex narrow web press. The monitored trials also included Sun Chemical’s flexo inks and paper labelstocks from Burgo. An analysis of the printed samples was then undertaken at Asahi’s Graphic Arts Center to measure established print characteristics, such as dot gain curves, ink density and tonal contrasts. This generated a color profile of the Varyflex press, which according to Omet resulted in low dot gain, extremely fine highlights with first print dots at 4 percent, open screen reversals up to 96 percent, wide tonal range, high contrast and a broad color gamut. It was jointly concluded that flexo printing can be comparable to, if not better than, offset.