How to narrow the gap between flexographic proofing and actual printing

Whether engaged in offset printing, digital printing or flexographic printing, printers are seeking various ways to improve and simplify production processes in order to cope with the ever-shrinking profit margins. One way is to ensure that the finished products obtained by customers can meet their expectations to avoid re-production and re-printing. This means that an accurate, high-quality contract proofing is critical.

Proofing has always been a headache in flexographic printing. Some people may say that the best way to show the finished product to customers is to print it directly. However, this method is not very easy to implement, not only the cost is higher, but the cycle is longer. When using other printing processes, you can usually use relatively simple inkjet proofing to simulate the actual printing effect. Flexographic printing is special. The dot expansion rule and screen angle are different from other printing methods. In addition, spot color and metallic printing technologies are widely used in flexographic printing.

Therefore, for flexographic printing, the required technical conditions are relatively high. Printers should have a RIP that can drive accurate and reliable output devices. The RIP of the professional flexographic printing proofing system can reproduce the flexographic printing effect involving many variables, and then output an image with the quality stipulated in the contract to the proofing machine. The quality of proofing is very important. The proofing quality of Epson equipment is unmatched, so it has the largest share in the proofing market. Epson recently launched four new 8-color printers, namely StylusPro 4880, 7880, 9880, and 11880. These four printers all use UltraChromeK3 technology with vivid magenta ink that can improve the image effect. The print head also uses the award-winning MicroPiezo (micro Piezoelectric) technology, which also ensures that high-quality proofs are printed at a relatively reasonable cost.

The problem often encountered when performing flexographic printing proofing is that the main printing material used in the proofing process is white paper, and this material is rarely used in the final products of the flexographic printing market. The only way to get real proofing on actual materials is to perform wet proofing, which is beyond the cost of many printers. The alternative technology is the use of specially developed technology, with high-standard inkjet proofing machine can accurately reproduce the true printing effect.

The FlexoProof system from GMG can reproduce the proofing effect of the actual printing materials, such as corrugated cardboard printing tools. In fact, any low-quality paper can be simulated by changing the image noise. GMG ’s products have always supported Epson StylusPro printers, taking full advantage of the transparency and density of the UltraChromeK3 ink system, and the accuracy of micro-piezo print head technology, which has ultra-fine ink dot (UltraMicroDot) inkjet Accuracy.

The StarProof system from ComposeSystem Company solved the complicated problem of dot structure by analyzing the shape and screen angle of CMYK dots. This analysis is provided by the ActualDot system, which can reproduce the original screening and dot shape printing tools with proof resolution. When sent to a high-resolution printer, such as Epson StylusPro4880, it can output high-quality proofs with sharp dots, clear images, accurate colors, and fine levels.

The screen dots of the flexographic version usually need to adjust the height or width of the dots slightly to compensate for the dot expansion during printing. The StarProof "DotDistortion" tool can generate the correct screening dots based on the deformation ratio or expansion ratio of the original under user control, and expand the deformed dots to the original correct size. StarProof can also compensate for the loss of small dot printing technology during flexographic transfer in the printing process. By entering the "Dot Lost" (DotLost) size value, the screen dots smaller than this size will be removed and will not appear on the proof sheet, which is in line with the actual situation of printing.

Most Rip processes spot colors in the same way, that is, through software analysis, the spot colors are converted to the closest CMYK value printing technology. The OpenRIPFlexo launched by Advanced Proofing of Xante Company can print composite color or specific color for printer proofing and customer proofing. It is also possible to change the spot color during Rip, which can reduce the amount of ink required for overprinting, and at the same time preview the effects of limited printing, overprinting and hollowing out. OpenRIP uses the KoolKolor inkjet proofing technology for ICC color management and the color management file of the target device to simulate the final printed product.

GMG's FlexoProof supports all standard spot color systems, such as Hexachrome or Pantone spot color libraries. These standard spot color systems provide printing technology with the product. An image can be divided into 64 colors at most, and the total color separation of a printing variety does not limit the printing technology. These colors are stored in the database, and users can add colors to the database as needed. With the FlexoProof solution, color opacity and related printing order can be specified as needed, and even the white base can be specified as a spot color.

The problems of early screening can also be solved through GMG's FlexProof. In addition to processing almost all industry-standard prepress data formats, FlexoProof can also process the final 1-bit data, such as the data obtained by CTPRIP. These data are the color information that was originally reserved for color management, not the information to go to the network. This allows early detection of discontinuous tones, moire, and trapping errors before exposure of the printing plate.

RIP can output high-quality effects is a problem, the final proofing effect may be another matter. If the color exceeds the color gamut, the proofs will be completely different from the imagination. The proofer needs to be able to output the changes made by the proofing system. Epson large format printers have a good reputation for color performance, thanks to the outstanding performance of UltraChromeK3 ink, this ink has a certain water resistance, can be dried quickly after printing and has excellent lightfast printing technology. Unlike the traditional use of a single black, Epson UltraChromeK3 ink uses three different concentrations of black ink to achieve a more stable and accurate grayscale balance, and uses less color ink to achieve more accurate color control. Coupled with a print resolution of up to 2880x1440dpi, it can perfectly match RIP's output effect printing tools.

Although professional Rip suppliers such as GMG, Xante and ComposeSystem have made great progress in technology, and the cooperation of Epson inkjet printers has made flexographic printing proofing technology a big step forward, but flexographic proofing has not yet Printing tools to a perfect degree. Through high-quality contract proofing, the gap between proofs and finished products is gradually narrowing the printing tools. The closer the proofs output by the proofing equipment and the final product, the happier the customer will be.

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