According to Soma, it produced the first fixed pallet co-printed brand owner designs back in 2008 at drupa. The Expanded Gamut Printing (EGP) has also been a topic at Soma's annual conference in 2015, 2017 and 2018 – where various designs were printed live for the audience. The hot topics have always been gravure to flexo conversion and co-printed brand owner designs. In recent years Soma cooperated with Marvaco and Flint Group on HiQ EGP Project to perfect this technology. The first collaborative project was presented at drupa 2016 – a 250 lpi 7 color expanded gamut pet food design.
To master EGP flexo technology, printers need a perfect press and perfect flexo technology support. In terms of a printing press, the companies talk about several systems that guarantee consistent stable dot, mainly mechanical press properties. Soma's Advanced Bounce Control system promotes maximum speeds and eliminates bounces. But it also maintains dynamic stability during printing process resulting in perfect dot, giving constant shape and registration.
In terms of flexo technology, there are several challenges to make a simple line work on screen. The questions faced here are usually the same: how do you maintain the register in three colors in negative text, and will the brand color be consistent when made via color separation? To use HiQ EGP successfully, you need to control the details and tolerances, which means that the print process with its deviations must be controlled, and you need an experienced professional to make the prepress as well as a professional partner in terms of the ink.
To demonstrate all this, Soma, Marvaco and Flint Group completed a HiQ EGP project for Soma Flexo Challenge Conference 2018, held in the Czech Republic in May. The group collected 18 designs into a co-print where over 30 colors were printed with only 7+1 colors – in one pass. They collected various challenges into a single design and demonstrated how the colorful design could be printed with only CMYK+OGV+White on BOPP.
Smooth solids, small text, very fine details and elements with tight tolerances were all brought together in a single design. The live demo showcased designs like those that would have previously been printed with gravure printing. The line screen was 178 lpi (70 lpcm), which is considered to be the new standard in HiQ EGP flexo.