York Repro-Graphic Group on Forefront of Innovation with Limitless Packaging & Fixed Colour Palette Printing

fixed colour palette

About York Repro-Graphic Group

York Repro-Graphic Group (YRG) was founded in 1974 and, provides a full range of pre-press and reprographic services to retailers, brand owners and print clients, including a new concept-to-print-management service. With its significant growth, YRG has become the largest independent privately owned repro group in the UK, operating from five locations in the UK with additional operations in Ireland and Africa.

The company has assembled an equipment portfolio and employee skill set that enables it to offer what it calls “Limitless Packaging”—total control of a brand from concept and design to printed approval—to its retailer, brand owner and print clients. This includes 3D visuals and animations at the concept stage before going to digital or flexo mock-ups, providing their clients with brand control without any surprises at final print. And, they can produce real print mock-ups on their new Digicon flexo press.


YRG was seeking a way to help its printer customers improve the quality of fixed colour palette printing work as the demand for that process continues to grow. YRG believes fixed colour palette printing is the future of flexography due to its process and cost efficiencies as long as quality requirements can be met.


For fixed colour palette printing, YRG recommends that printers use Asahi AWPTM water washable plates with Pinning Technology for Clean Transfer. YRG has acquired two Asahi plate processors for production of these plates, including a large AWP 1116-PD plate system at the YRG Eclipse site in Cottingham in the UK. The company plans to use this technology to expand its on-site platemaking services for its printer customers.


For YRG, quality is a primary consideration in everything it does. The company is continuously assessing new technologies on the market and invests heavily in research and development to stay on the leading edge. YRG was the first reprographics house in the world to comply with the ISO-12647 colour standard and strongly believes in the ability of the fixed colour palette printing process to ensure the future viability of the flexographic printing process.

“Fixed colour palette printing offers a number of efficiencies that make flexo printing more competitive,” says Mark Gration, the company’s group managing director. “Using a fixed set of inks reduces ink inventories, speeds makeready, and reduces press stops and waste. It significantly reduces job changeover times since no wash-ups are required between jobs. But to achieve the quality that brand owners demand requires precise registration. That’s why we chose to use Asahi AWP water washable plates for those clients using fixed colour palette printing. The quality that can be achieved with these plates surpasses Flat Top Dot printing quality, making the AWP plate the best plate in the market for this purpose. More specifically, its print consistency, precise register, fewer press stops with less waste on press are the drivers of increased demand for use of a fixed set of inks, and the quality of the AWP plates keeps our customers coming back.” Gration also likes the fact that AWP plates have a small environmental footprint. “They are water washable,” he says, “eliminating solvents and the associated hazardous waste and VOCs, with waste water being able to be disposed of without environmental impact.”

Moving forward, YRG plans to further develop its in-plant platemaking services at customer printing sites. “This will enable us to help our clients further reduce turn times in the plate-to-press process to meet the needs of the changing market environment, which is increasingly demanding just-in-time production,” Gration states. “And the Asahi AWP system’s ease of use and environmental friendliness will be an important factor in moving this process closer to press operations.”

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RGB Printing Brings Spectacular Visual Possibilities to Packaging

Saueressig - RGB Printing

By Volker Hildering, Manager Sales and Customer Service Packaging – Special Applications, and Anna Zumbülte, Innovation Manager, Saueressig GmbH + Co. KG


Most people take color printing for granted. The limited gamut of colors available in the CMYK color model may seem to mimic all the possibilities of the real world—but that’s only because we’re so accustomed to seeing images reproduced in CMYK. In truth, there are so many more ways of seeing that have remained impossible to explore throughout the history of printing.

What if you could give shoppers a whole new way to see your brand? What if you could stop them in their tracks, thinking “That’s remarkable—I’ve never seen anything like it before”?

That’s the impact of RGB printing, the first completely new innovation in color printing technology in more than 100 years. Before, if you asked a supplier to print in RGB, you’d get a laugh and a lecture about why your request made no sense. Now, you can get a world of new visual effects that have never previously existed.

Substrates of the deepest black. A much broader color space. More vivid saturation. A surface sheen unlike anything you’ve ever seen. How is it possible? Let’s take a closer look.

CMYK and RGB: Looking Back

CMYK printing was first used in 1906,1 when the Eagle Printing Ink Company demonstrated that the colors cyan, magenta, yellow and black (key) could be layered over a white substrate to produce a practically unlimited range of colors.

The RGB color model is even older, although it only came into prominence with the rise of color TV. In 1861, James Clerk Maxwell experimented with taking photographs of the same scene through red, green and blue filters. Projecting the images through the same filters in a darkened room, these primary colors combined to reproduce the scene in full color.2

CMYK inks on a white background, or RGB lights on a dark screen: For well over 100 years, these have been the two principal ways to create full-color images. Both models are so ubiquitous—CMYK for print; RGB for screens—that most people hardly even think about the different ways they engage the eye.

RGB Printing: Seeing Things Differently

The idea for a new kind of vision grew from a 2014 brainstorming session between creative people and the Performance Materials unit of the Merck KGaA Darmstadt (the centuries-old German multinational chemical and pharmaceutical company). Their idea turned the standard color models upside down: Instead of illuminated pixels on a black screen, what if RGB inks were used to print on black paper?

That thought led to many months of testing and refinement. Now, Merck KGaA has created the first major color innovation in over a century: A process for RGB printing with international patent pending.

This new method uses highly reflective pearlescent red, blue and green inks, plus a silver-white ink. In CMYK printing, the black “K” ink provides a definitive black that the mixture of cyan, magenta and yellow can’t quite achieve. Similarly, the silver-white ink in RGB printing is used to provide the white “pop” that the combination RGB inks can’t quite achieve.

The effect is uncanny. The image seems to shimmer. It emerges from the black background as an ethereal possibility, not a prosaic reality.


RGB printing is done directly on a black substrate, as opposed to CMYK where a black background is achieved by printing all four colors at full saturation. So, for example, you can present your brand artwork directly on a black box or label for a deep, dramatic look that you couldn’t achieve using CMYK.

The pearlescent pigments create otherworldly images that seem to radiate a shimmer or glow from within. And the RGB technique offers a larger, more diverse color space than CMYK, giving designers a greater range of hues and saturations for the freedom to explore entirely new possibilities.

Luxury brands, fine wines and whiskies, cigars and other indulgences are natural candidates for the distinctive and sophisticated effects that can be achieved with RGB printing. Graphic designers will likely discover creative uses for this new method across many other product categories.

What We’ve Learned: Visualizing the Possibilities

Merck developed its RGB process using its proprietary pigments, applied by screen printing. When they were ready to move from concept to full production, Merck came to Saueressig for expertise in rotogravure printing—the ideal system for transferring pigments in the volume required for the RGB technique.

Our team has spent endless hours refining the technique and working with clients to bring their RGB printing projects to market. What we’ve learned is that clients want help visualizing how the process works and what they need to do to be successful with it. Here are a few key points to keep in view:

  • The cost for rotogravure cylinders is not more for RGB than for CMYK. That part of the process is the same; only the inks used differ.
  • The cost of inks may be marginally higher for RGB due to the special pigments required and the volume of ink applied during printing. This small difference is well worth it for clients who want the special effects that can only be achieved with RGB.
  • Color correction requires special expertise. You can’t proof your design on a CMYK printer and expect the results to match in production. This is where working with an RGB specialist with the necessary expertise and tools can make all the difference in the success of the final product.
  • An RGB-printed package or label, when photographed and reproduced in CMYK, will lose some of the vibrancy and sheen that makes RGB so special. That includes the images displayed with this article, and it’s due to the inherently restricted color space of CMYK compared to RGB. Again, this is an area where specialized expertise can help optimize the results—but you really need to see the RGB original to get the full effect.

At Saueressig, we’re delighted to be part of the first major innovation in printing to be developed in many generations. It’s still relatively new, and we expect to see further developments and refinements in the years to come. RGB will always be an additional option, never an alternative to CMYK, and will likely always be the choice of a few, select brands. But when you first encounter it on the shelf, you’ll know right away that you’ve found something special. So keep your eyes open while you shop.

About Saueressig

Saueressig is a renowned expert in premium rotogravure and special machinery solutions. The company supports customers along the entire prepress process and improves profitability by applying innovative solutions to the complex challenges faced by brand owners, printers and converters in the reproduction of brand assets. Saueressig owns more than 150 patents and has more than 60 years of experience. The internationally expanding company serves customers from ten production sites worldwide. Saueressig is part of the brand deployment group of SGK. SGK is a division of Matthews International Corporation (NASDAQ GSM: MATW). For more information visit: http://www.saueressig.com

Volker Hildering - RGB PrintingA recognized expert of the printing industry, Volker Hildering, Manager Sales and Customer Service Packaging – Special Applications, with Saueressig, has been deploying security and microprint technologies as anti-counterfeiting solutions for 16 years. Having completed his commercial education at Saueressig and complemented by a Media Business Administrator degree, he assisted in building the Security department, which he has led since 2008. Saueressig is part of SGK, a Division of Matthews International Corporation. http://saueressig.com

Dr. Anna Zumbulte - RGB PrintingHaving graduated from the University of Muenster in 2015 with a PhD in physics, Dr. Anna Zumbülte joined Saueressig as the Innovation Manager. In her role she drives innovations both in collaboration with customers and industry partners as well as internal developments to enhance the possibilities of printing and embossing. Saueressig is part of SGK, a Division of Matthews International Corporation. http://saueressig.com


  1. “The History of the CMYK Color Model,” Club Ink Blog, September 12, 2014. http://www.clubink.ca/blog/print/history-behind-cmyk-colour-model
  2. Robert Hirsch, “Exploring Colour Photography: A Complete Guide,” London: Laurence King Publishing, 2004

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3 Ways Flexographers can Win Over Brand Owners

Apex International Blog

by Doug Jones, Apex International

The only thing more difficult than earning the business of a new customer is keeping it.  Printers working with brand owners sometimes have a hard time differentiating themselves in the marketplace and demonstrating consistent value.  There are three areas in maintaining a brand owner relationships where your efforts will most certainly be rewarded!

1. Help brand owners reduce cost

Every brand owner is looking to spend less on materials and the “buy more, save more” approach that has resulted in longer and longer runs is not a viable solution.  Instead, brand owners want the flexibility of just in time without having to absorb a price increase.

The key to saving brand owners money while running a profitable business is volume and efficiency.  Your goal is to become their preferred printer because a) you have demonstrated your commitment to the partnership and b) you have a real, tangible success strategy that details exactly how your process is more efficient and more consistent than the competition.  Managing shorter runs profitably is only possible if you are still able to minimize machine down time in the process.  One tried and true way to accomplish this is by eliminating variables and increasing overall operational efficiency.  Reducing the color palette, for example, is one way to drive efficiency and reduce costs.  Taken a step further, an optimized fixed palette solution will certainly provide any printer with a competitive advantage.

Tip: Provide brand owners and retailers with the ability to have high print quality on a wide range of substrates. 

2. Help brand owners manage inventory

If you have the space, a vendor managed inventory (VMI) solution can help you demonstrate value by creating an efficient print management system in partnership with your customer.  With VMI, you’ll work with your customer to establish stock level minimums and maximums based on forecasting models.

The upside for the printer in this scenario can be enormous.  First, you will become very “sticky” with your customer in terms of the relationship.  Established VMI partnerships are difficult to break.  Second, you will be able to complete longer runs while still delivering just in time value.  You’ll have greater control over the planning process and more flexibility.  Third, printing in volume allows for greater overall print consistency.

3. Help brand owners manage their brand standards

Printers running the same job at multiple sites or even with multiple machines in the same site understand the common standard expectation brand owners have.  Generally, brand owners have little concern over where a job is printed or by whom so long as the common standard is met.

The key to successful brand standards management across multiple sites is consistent, predictable printing.  Optimized fixed palette is one means by which to ensure consistency across all stations.  In fact, many of the same cost reduction strategies you can use to win over brand owners will ultimately help you deliver more consistency.

Get the Flexo solutions guide now!

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UV Ink Metering: Eliminating Spitting, Blow-by and Inconsistencies on Anilox Presses

With today’s amazing innovations in plate design, ink technology, and faster press speeds, professional print shops have been able to provide more impressive end results than in years past.

UV inks continue to be a major contributor to these incredibly higher definition print results, however, whether you call it ink spitting, blow by, or any other term, ink that gets through our metering process and on to the image area can create a frustrating problem and outputs that customers reject.

UV Ink Metering

So, how can you avoid this challenge? It begins with understanding why it occurs in the first place.


In the early years of UV ink technology, viscosity was typically regarded as the primary contributor to this spitting issue. Obviously, UV inks run “thicker” than water-based and solvent inks, and may, in fact, run as much as five to seven times differently within the transfer zone of the press. Thus, the thicker UV ink builds up behind the doctor blade and begins, what many term, “hydrodynamic,” causing the blade to flex, or give, in some areas.

Once this phenomenon occurs, the ink pushes through, transferring to the plate and releasing unplanned ink tails, or streaks, from the plate on to the substrate in what will most likely result in some form of print defect.

Ink companies have been addressing this kind of viscosity challenge by diligently adjusting set-ups. However, even with years of fine tuning by these ink companies, UV ink spitting still seems to persist, especially at higher speeds and in the narrow web presses.


Thixotropic” refers to the process in which certain gels, or fluids, in this case ink, under agitated conditions will become thin and flow more readily, then after a certain amount of time return to a more viscous state. In the case of UV Inks, this means they can run thinner or thicker depending on how much they are in motion.

Because of this thixotropic property of UV inks, sometimes spitting is caused by the ink natural releasing itself fromthe anilox overtime. Obviously, this variance in characteristics makes UV ink even more of a challenge to control on press as speeds change, presses stop, and especially in plants where the climate conditions are not regulated.

When trying to approach this issue, many printers simply need to get the job done and out the door. So, they will adjust inks, anilox rolls, doctor blades, or manipulate all three to finish the job.

While each of the above can certainly contribute to the increased, or decreased, possibility of UV ink spitting, it is not an efficient or reliable solution.


Our initial research at Daetwyler, showed marked improvements on UV spitting simply by using a thicker doctor blade. Approaching the set-up much like a gravure press and “stiffening” up the majority of the blade while still providing a fine tip proved to help reduce the potential of any flex, or give, as is common with the hydrodynamic issue.

Much like metering coatings and adhesives, thicker blades are used because of the need to be able to resist the force, or heavy volume, of these fluids while still providing strong metering at the point of contact to the anilox roll. In many cases, using this thicker blade is an ideal solution. However, we must carefully watch for any potential unacceptable dot gain. This is because the thicker the contact point   at the anilox, the more ink passes through, which   is good for coatings and adhesives, but could cause problems for high-end process work.

This means that thicker blades are only part of a complete solution. Thicker blades will certainly resolve issues with UV coatings, but what can be done about high-screen process jobs? The answer may be simpler than you think – so start with the basics.

» Ask if you are using the same anilox from 15 years ago, say, when 800-900 lpi was considered process work?

» Are you using outdated plate technology, such as 80-100 line screen?

» When was the last time you re-calculated and/or recalibrated your ink mixtures?

In answering those questions, it should be clear that an outdated doctor blade would be just as inappropriate. If simply switching to a thicker blade solves your UV spitting issues, then you’re set. But for most, it means looking for new technology to address the needs of modern print customers and modern inks.

New Blade Technology is Here

UV Ink Metering

Concepts such as blade design and performance coatings are changing the way print set ups handle UV inks and coatings alike. In some cases, these blades have demonstrated proven results for high- end process work with UV and even LED inks. To demonstrate how this is achieved, we will discuss two of our own blades with such characteristics – The Multiflex and Pearlstar.

The concept of the Multiflex is much like a fine screen gravure type blade.   Initially designed to help hazing in gravure printing, the Multiflex provides greater stability, lower bending at high pressure with a narrow blade contact zone thus providing an optimal meter of challenging UV inks.

While the Multiflex provides an elongated blade using the thick base and narrow contact as its solution to UV ink spitting, the Pearlstar blade provides a completely different approach to help prevent ink build-up behind the blade. This new blade technology relies upon a revolutionary state-of-the-art coating that significantly reduces ink adherence to the doctor blade. This provides outstanding performance that reduces defects in the entire print run and increases performance.

Water, UV, solvent and most other fluids do not “stick” to the surface of the blade, thus there is no hydrodynamic force behind the blade and building up additional pressure at the tip. Because of this reduced adherence, the fluid simply flows back into the pan, or chamber, and constant flow is achieved.

The Daetwyler Advantage


As print shops are constantly pushed to provide customers with the most unique, eye-catching products on the market, printing   boundaries will consistently be pushed. The UV market has advanced in great strides this last decade and continues to provide some stunning artwork in the industry.

Despite the challenges that come with using UV ink, such as spitting, using the right anilox, monitored quality inks, and the proper doctor blade will allow the results businesses and clients both want… which is what sells to the consumer.

For more information, e-mail E-Mail infodpr-usnc@daetwyler.com or visit www.daetwyler-usa.com/pressroom

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Staying Current with Standards in Print and Packaging

X-Rite Pantone - Print & Packaging Standards


**Originally Published on the X-Rite Blog.


If you’re in the print and packaging industry, standards can help you set clear expectations for clients, solve problems in your workflow, and improve productivity. They can also bring an independent perspective to production.

The ISO and other standards organizations have been very busy trying to address the new technologies challenges that printers face. At X-Rite, we’re lucky to have Ray Cheydleur, our U.S. and international standards expert, to help us stay current.

Today Ray is providing some insight about what’s new in the world of graphic arts standards, so you can take advantage of them in your print and packaging workflow.

Controlled Lighting for OBAs

There are a lot of new standards coming out of ISO. Some of them have been around for a while, but are just being implemented. For instance, ISO 13655 and ISO 3664 – controlled lighting for OBAs – aren’t new, but they have had a significant impact on standards work this year. If you print to specifications, have brightened stocks, or do something other than on-press proofing, you have to be aware of them to deliver color consistency.

Staying Current with Standards in Print and Packaging 1

The Judge QC light booth offers UV illumination that allows for accurate visual evaluation of OBA-enhanced materials.

Optical brightening agents have made printing and proofing more difficult in the last five or so years. Here’s an explanation of the four M-Series of standards to help deal with OBAs.

To learn more about the impact of OBAs on the print and packaging industry, check out a whitepaper I co-wrote with Kevin O’Connor.

Printing from Digital Data Across Multiple Technologies
ISO/PAS 15339

ISO/PAS 15339 uses a gray balanced approach to describe standard practices for hybrid printing so printers can achieve the best reproduction across a range of substrates and technologies. It can also be used by brand owners and print specifiers to predict and specify the quality of requested work.

Part 1 provides better data exchange based on color quality and a colorimetric-based process control, plus provides a better way to achieve similar appearance results between printing processes with different color gamuts.

Part 2 provides seven different reference printing conditions, from small gamut to larger than standard analog printing gamut, to meet the criteria laid out in Part 1.
Implementing ISO/PAS 15339 shouldn’t be too hard if you already use a color-managed workflow, because these reference print conditions comply with GRACoL, SWOP, and ISO 12647-2. SWOP and GRACoL 2013 even use these exact characterized reference printing conditions.

Color Exchange Format

Staying Current with Standards in Print and Packaging 2Correct and accurate color communication is critical to an efficient workflow, which is why communicating color data electronically has become a hot topic for printers. The Color Exchange Format (CxF) helps communicate all aspects of color, even when the application and the color communication features required are unknown. CxF is able to extend the information set to the needs of a new application without affecting general usability.

CxF version 3, originally developed by X-Rite, has now become an international standard that can be used by throughout production to share color data. ISO CxF/X (ISO 17972-1:2015) with additional parts ensures an accurate and efficient exchange of digital standards, measurements and metadata by providing the framework to exchange everything from target data to spot color tone values.

Many companies and products have already benefited from CxF as a communication solution, and now that it’s an ISO standard, many more can, too.


Still in process, PQX is another one that helps with unambiguous exchange of print-related data. In this case, the goal is to find a common way to pass print quality data easily between disparate systems. PQX uses XML to send data reports across the print supply chain—between printers and brands, publishers and content creators. It incorporates CxF/X to carry measurement data with additional metadata that CxF/X does not directly support. 

Spot Color Tone Value Test Form

Spot Color Tone Value Test Form

Spot Color Tone Value

We’ve long had a reliable way to calculate tone value for process colors by using the Murray-Davies formula along with density values to calculate tone value. Spot Colors, which often don’t conveniently fit filters used for process colors, have always been a bigger challenge.

The most traditional way to address this has been to use narrow band density with the Murray-Davies Formula. Other proprietary forms have also been used successfully. Now ISO 20654 – Measurement and Calculation of Spot Color Tone Value – is being readied to provide a new calculation that relies on colorimetry or spectral data to get tone value percentages that have better agreement with our eye. This work has been the result of a worldwide collaboration of experts analyzing both theoretical models and print runs to come up with this solution. Expect this to finalized later this year or in early 2017.

This leads to a host of new PDF standards which are being directed to both to the packaging industry and printers as a whole, trying to create better, more automated workflows, so there’s less questions about what happens if you transfer a file from one part of the workflow to another.

Staying Current with Standards

Keeping current with standards is a tricky job because standards are always changing. It really becomes a question of how you get informed, and how you stay informed.

One way is to be part of the process. If you have expertise in a particular area, there’s probably a standards or specifications working group for it that could be improved with your expertise, as well as give you a lot of insight into the process.

Another way is to work with one of the specification groups. For example, if you are a flexo printer working in a packaging workflow, being part of the Flexographic Technical Association (FTA) would give you a lot of insight into applicable standards. If you’re in commercial printing, someone like Idealliance or Fogra can give you input into that process, and maybe even additional insight into how the standards are being implemented in your geography or within your brand users.

About the Author:

Ray Cheydleur is the Printing and Imaging Portfolio Manager at X-Rite Inc. In addition, he is chairman of ANSI CGATS (Committee for Graphic Arts Technology Standards in the US), Chairman of the USTAG to ISO/TC130 (the ISO Graphic Arts Technology Standards) and Vice Chairman of the ICC (International Color Consortium).

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Building Graphics Workflows Across Emerging Markets

Graphics Workflows

by Deane Shillito, Client Solutions APAC, SGK

Eighty-five percent of the world’s population lives in regions with emerging and developing economies. That’s 6 billion people. As these populations grow in size, they also grow in influence. Ten years ago, these emerging and developing economies accounted for less than half of global GDP. Today, that figure has increased to nearly 60 percent, with 80 percent of global growth since the 2008 crash occurring in these markets.1

As multinational companies continue to expand in emerging markets, they need to work from a solid foundation to protect their investments. But how do you implement and maintain a complex brand ecosystem in new markets, each that may have an entirely unique point of view?

Understanding the Market

To date, workflow solutions haven’t been entirely successful in emerging markets for one simple reason: An established solution that works in a market, like the United States, Europe, or Australia, doesn’t necessarily work in new markets. And getting package graphics right in emerging markets isn’t just a technical challenge; it’s a cultural challenge.

Businesses need to recognize the need for flexibility in workflow design to accommodate the unique needs and cultural characteristics of these markets. Graphics workflows must be empathetic into cultural nuances, multiple languages and contexts, social barriers, and the tyranny of distance, otherwise it may find that the workflow can act to block business.

When companies fail to do this, one of two things usually happen. 1. They don’t gain the benefits they expected to gain or 2. They hastily decide to turn over control of their global packaging workflows to local operations. And this they often learn, may have solved the initial challenges, but created new ones as well. It is nearly impossible to maintain consistency of a company’s brands globally when their packaging workflows are managed only at the local level.

So how do we overcome these challenges to build common workflows across various markets and take advantage of these new opportunities? Preparation and empathy are key.

Establishing the Right Workflow for the Right Team

Holistically, good process is good process regardless of location or language. This is definitely true for the graphics workflow. In order to build a robust process, time must be taken for an in-depth discovery into roles, inputs, tools, process management, handoffs, and vendor partners. A thorough understanding of current workings through discovery sessions greatly increase the probability of success.

One must also truly understand current costs. Often, fees are buried in agency retainer models or with print partners. These hidden costs can blur the true benefit of the new workflow initiative.

One size does not always fit all in emerging markets. Teams in these markets work well when key players are involved in both the development and implementation of the process. This must include local sponsors from each market to own the process and, if required, a local representative who can speak the language and with an understanding of cultural nuances.

With the right team in place, there needs to be collective agreement as to the deliverables of the project, which should be formally documented and distributed to all stakeholders for reference.

Simplifying the Complex Through Effective Communication

Even what appears to be the simplest and clearest direction can become muddled in context. For example, two different approaches may be regarded as acceptable options in established, developed markets. But in many developing countries, there may be an expectation to be given clear instructions for doing things the “right way,” and being presented with alternatives may appear confusing or overly complex.

Most issues in emerging markets are caused by miscommunication or misunderstanding between people. Of vital importance is defining roles and responsibilities, then communicating these in the most effective way. Verbal is not always best.

Such nuances require careful and clear direction for all projects. Again, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Take nothing for granted—always make sure you’re understanding and being understood.

Follow Up

Once the workflow has a period of time in operation, follow-up audits are recommended. The best, most effective workflow is worthless if it is not in place and in use. If gaps are identified, a review should be taken to determine whether the cause of the gap is simply a misunderstanding or a fundamental error in the developed process.

It Takes a Diverse Team

Ultimately, pushing through alone in an unfamiliar culture isn’t likely to be successful. Partnering with someone who’s worked there can save days and dollars. By focusing on regionally and culturally targeted strategies that improve communication and streamline workflows, your organization can gain local agility to drive performance.

Graphics workflows in emerging markets find clarity of purpose and effective engagement when you remove the noise associated with implementation, understand the region-specific problem, and work backward with an overarching knowledge of the whole process.

In an era when companies are being asked to do more with less to grow their business, graphics workflows offer an area of opportunity that must take greater priority.

About the Author:

Deane Shillito - Graphics WorkflowDeane Shillito, Client Solutions APAC, at SGK, brings 20+ years experience as a printing and packaging professional with extensive knowledge of the pharmaceutical packaging artwork and printing processes. He has successfully led numerous initiatives within APAC to identify and implement process improvement and workflow optimisation within organisations.  http://www.sgkinc.com Deane.Shillito@sgkinc.com



  1. Christine Lagarde, “The Role Of Emerging Markets In A New Global Partnership For Growth,” International Monetary Fund presentation at University of Maryland, February 4, 2016. https://www.imf.org/external/np/speeches/2016/020416.htm

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Filed under Artwork/Graphics Management, Prepress, Workflows

Big Value, Small Environmental Footprint

Asahi Photoproducts - Asahi Kasei



By Dr. Dieter Niederstadt – Technical Marketing Manager Asahi Photoproducts





This is what drove Nu-Maber, a leading Italian repro house, to choose Asahi AWP-DEF water-washable plates with Pinning Technology for Clean Transfer. The company is known for being innovative and forward-thinking, and has many firsts to its name. Being the first in Italy to adopt Asahi AWP-DEF plates adds another diamond to its crown.

Nu-Maber Blog Post with Livio Simionato“We wanted to stay current with the latest trends in flexography in order to deliver plates of the utmost quality to our customers, while also taking into consideration the environmental footprint of the platemaking operation,” said Livio Simionato, Nu-Maber’s CEO. “After reviewing the options available in the market, we chose to partner with Asahi, and we have been able to grow our business in both narrow web and wide web markets using Asahi AWP water-washable plates, for printing on paper and plastic substrates .

Simionato was also concerned about the environmental impact of platemaking, both in his operation and that of his customers. “One of the attractions of these water-washable plates,” he explains, “is the elimination of the solvents required for the production traditional flexo plates. But perhaps even more importantly, the Pinning Technology for Clean Transfer that is a hallmark of these plates results in a cleaner overall printing process with fewer press stops for plate cleaning, improving pressroom productivity for our customers and reducing waste.”

Simionato and his team are working hard to educate the Italian flexographic market about these benefits. “Asahi studies show significant improvements in overall equipment effectiveness,” he says, “which means much less waste and significant time savings. We’re seeing this in action with the customers who have adopted these plates, and we want to make sure that everyone in the Italian flexo community has access to these outstanding plate solutions that will drive their productivity and their profits while also improving quality.”

Pinning Technology for Clean Transfer is also ideally suited for Fixed Color Palette printing using a fixed set of 4 to 7 inks and requiring precise plate-to-plate registration, a printing process that is growing in popularity among packaging converters and brand owners alike. Some experts estimate that fixed color palette printing using seven colors can match as many as 90% or more of the 1,838 named Pantone spot colors, reducing ink inventories and improving efficiencies.

View Video – Asahi Photoproducts – NuMaber AWP Interview

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The Rise of Pantone Simulation in Flexography

The Rise of Pantone Simulation in FlexographyRecent studies and trials aimed at optimizing Pantone simulation suggest that the fixed palette approach is ready to revolutionize the flexography and label industries. The change is due specifically to advancements allowing for unprecedented process control and consistency as well as the development of new tools designed to pinpoint which process parameters are failing so they may be addressed before problems arise.

4C  No limits – No compromise!

According to Nick Harvey – Print Application Director of Apex International – 4 color fixed palette has many advantages over 7 color simulations in for particular for wide web Flexo. First you must understand and consider that existing wide web printers have:

  • Many existing designs that they hold plates in stock for (100,000’s Euro’s)
  • Many ink press returns in stores that require re-formulating for spot color printing (1000‘s Euro’s)
  • A number of customers that will not move old designs to Fixed Palette

When you understand and consider the above, printers require a transition solution to move over to Fixed Palette. Apex 4C using the GTT technology offers this smooth transition. Harvey states that an estimated 90% of printers only have 8 color presses and therefore 4 color Fixed palette plus White allows for printers to use the spare 3 units for:

  1. Spot colors that are not possible with 4C simulation and this gives the possibility to print 100% of the pantone book.
  2. Printing designs side by side saving set up costs, increasing run lengths, increasing profits
  3. Printing up to 800 colors at the same time (a designer’s dream)
  4. Printing added value combination lacquers, Gloss, Matt, Tactile
  5. Printing up to 800 Metallic colors at the same time just by backing simulations with silver
  6. You still have the possibility to increase to 5, 6 or 7 C as and when it suits your business needs and your production is comfortable and consistent with 4C.
  7. Finally the ability to print all existing designs in the current format without disturbing the 4C fixed process set.

Added to the above moving to Fixed Palette printing in the first instance is a matter of variable elimination in order for printers to make the transition into Fixed Palette Color simulation they need to optimize their internal process control which requires a mind set to remove / eliminate as many process variables as possible.

Therefore starting this journey into Fixed Palette is much smoother when you begin with the already familiar Y M C K process set. When it is understood that 4C brings a possibility of more than 800 colors within a delta e of 2 this is already a huge step forward, whilst at the same time allowing all existing designs to be printed and press return inks to be used away during the transition as stated above.

The demand for optimized fixed palette is only expected to grow as brand owners demand better color consistency with shorter run lengths and just-in-time production. Chief among these concerns is the ability to create color consistency across multiple markets ensuring that the same values and same Pantones can be printed on labels just as they can on films.

For more than a year, Apex International has been involved in a project to proof that Fixed palette printing with only 4 colors is the future of the Flexographic printing industry. At Drupa the results of the trials will be presented to the international Flexographic printing industry.

What is so special about this project?

Fixed palette optimization through advances in color management and process consistency has fundamentally changed flexographic printing in the 21st century. Brand owners around the world have taken notice. In fact, more and more brand owners are choosing printers with a proficiency in fixed palette. Two leading brand owners – Asda/Walmart and Morrisons – have contributed their participation to the project from the start. They have offered designs of some of their packages to be used and printed in the trials.

Secondly, the designs contain packages that were previously printed in various different types of printing techniques, going from Litho to Aluminium foil lidding, from Gravure to Surface Prints in Flexo and from UV Label to UV Shrink sleeves. All these designs are now printed in Reverse on OPP in Flexo!

Third, the number of different designs per printing plate are incredible, all printed with CMYK. For the Morrisons design more than 100 Pantone colors were matched and 28 (!) designs were printed. The Asda printing plate covered 17 designs and also here more than 100 Pantone colors were matched!

“Nothing is Impossible”

Apex International has proven that the impossible ís possible by presenting print results in UV label, OPP Polythene and Offset/Litho. Visitors to Drupa can come to the Apex booth and check the color results with their own eyes, as well as with the X-Rite Color management equipment Exact Scan & ColorCert Master. Since it is about matching the original proof that is signed off by the brand owner, the Apex stand will also provide this original proof.  And as if that weren’t enough proof, Apex also displays some of the original packaging the way they can be purchased in the supermarket nowadays.

The Morrisons Print Proof

The Morrisons Print Proof with 28 designs previously printed in different printing technologies, now all on OPP Reverse Print in Flexo.

The ‘role’ the Anilox played

“Achieving color consistency is probably the most difficult component of transitioning to a fixed palette process.” says Bas van der Poel, Technical Sales Director EMEA at Apex International. “Fixed palette is about control: control over variables, control over ink flow and so on. It is this control that has allowed us to hit the number of Pantones we have with these trials and do so while not having to make any changes to plate inventory. It requires a level of control that simply is not possible with conventional anilox rolls.

Apex holds globally recognized patents on the award-winning GTT technology that uses continuous lasers to engrave a slalom pattern onto the anilox. The continuous laser is responsible for creating an anilox product capable of the smooth, consistent and controlled laydown necessary to optimize fixed palette. The Fixed Palette 4C consists of 4 GTT rolls/sleeves and one calibration roll/sleeve for closed-loop control and a guaranteed process stability”.

Get Your Fixed Palette Sample Kit Now

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Color Accuracy and Consistency: A Balancing Act

X-Rite Pantone Logo


**Originally published on the X-Rite blog


When all of final production packaging comes together on the store shelf, it’s a brand’s moment of truth. Do the stand-up pouches, overwraps, and corrugated POP displays match? How close is the color to its standard?

We know you spend so much time and money designing, proofing, sampling, printing, and shipping… so where does the color go wrong? Is it an issue with color accuracy, consistency, or both?

Color Accuracy and Consistency: A Balancing Act 1

Package designs come together on the shelf. Here you see pouches, labels, cartons, and corrugated with visual inconsistencies—these are issues that can be overcome.

Today we’ll look at some of the key underlying issues in a color workflow so you can take corrective action with suppliers and get your brand color right, the first time.

1 –Substrates, printing processes and ink types all affect color.

Unique packaging helps products stand out, but the variety of printing processes, inks, and substrates required to make it happen creates a real challenge for brand owners and graphic designers to achieve consistent color. When designing layouts and approving colors, brands need to consider all of the variables that impact final color.

Many years ago, Flint Group put together a color quiz with the question: “Which swatches are printed with the same ink?”


Even though there was no attempt to match color on these substrates, you probably see two or three swatches appear close in color. The reason? Even though they were all printed with the same ink formula, they were on different substrates. It’s amazing how much the color varies.

Plastic, metal, glass, paperboard, and corrugated cardboard are vastly different substrates. Some, like paperboard and corrugated cardboard are more porous and will absorb ink, while metal will not absorb ink at all. Depending upon the amount of absorption, the substrate color will interact with the ink and change the appearance of the color. A color that is approved on a white substrate will look quite different – and probably be unachievable – when printed on brown corrugated.


Substrate isn’t the only variant in the quest for color consistency. Different printing processes also affect the printed color. Offset, flexo, gravure, letterpress, digital, and screen all use different types of inks and colorants; some are water-based, some are petroleum-based, and the curing methods and gloss levels can result in colors that vary substantially.

The key is to consider as many of the variables as possible during the design phase, and think through how they will affect final color. It’s also important to stay in close contact with your printer or packaging converter to ensure they understand, and can achieve, your expectations.

2 – Multiple packaging components can make or break the brand.

There’s more to a brand than just the package. Even if you have all the variables under control for one packaging component, the other components – such as the flexible plastic pouch, the folding carton, the printed labels, and the shelf trays – must all match when they come together at the point of sale.


This graphic shows how Pantone 3425 C will appear when printed on both white and brown cardboard.

As you can see from the coffee cup image, the printed color difference is quite noticeable. Is it OK if the green on the white cup doesn’t exactly match the green on the brown thermal cup holder? It’s a balancing act between what’s achievable and what’s acceptable.

3 – When you’re working across multiple sites, color is even harder to manage.

Multiple print suppliers are usually required to handle large volumes of brand packaging. But even when using the same substrates, inks, and printing processes, converters in different parts of the world simply do not produce the exact same color.

If a brand owner approves a slight variation from a printer in New York, and a slight – but different – variation from the printer in Madrid, when all of those components come together at the point of sale, those slight differences may be much more apparent.


This type of color difference can give the impression that the off-color products are damaged, old, or fake, and they will probably end up on a discount store shelf.

The only real way to ensure accurate color across multiple sites is through digital specification and evaluation – that is, using digital values for color in conjunction with physical references.

4 – Color communication can be ambiguous. And expensive.

Historically, physical standards have been the accepted way to specify and communicate brand colors. While they still play an important role in a color workflow, they can also pose potential issues for brand owners.

First, they’re subject to deterioration through age, wear and discoloration. Even if Pantone 306 is communicated as the standard, what looks like Pantone 306 in the designer’s new Pantone Guide might look different in the printer’s 10-year old version, leaving room for misinterpretation. It’s also wise to reference standards for multiple substrates, which aren’t always available or practical as physical references.

Lighting plays a role in visual evaluation. A color difference may be more obvious when viewed beside a window in the store than under fluorescent lighting in the lab.


Comparing a sample with a standard in a light booth allows you to view and approve color under consistent, known lighting conditions.

Physical standards can change. How do you know all of your designers and suppliers are using the most recent or most consistent ones?

There’s also the cost and efficiency impact of sending physical materials back and forth for review and approval, or sending stakeholders to each print shop to visually approve color on press.

5 – The Snowball Effect

Combine all of these variables and you get the dreaded “error stack.” Although each player in the supply chain, from designers to premedia to ink supplier to printer, may meet the physical standard within a specified tolerance, adding each of these small differences together can lead to bad color, and a negative brand impression at the point of sale.

What’s a brand owner to do?

One potential key to reducing inefficiencies is digital color specification, communication, and approval. Even if the color is specified in Paris, printed to the numbers in Ohio, and approved in New York, the digital version of Pantone 360 will always be the same when you use digital specifications across the workflow.

About the Author:

Cindy Cooperman is X-Rite Pantone’s Global Director of Sales for Packaging & Brand. In this role, she is responsible for leading a global sales team focused on delivering value and solutions to the packaging supply chain to include brand owners, designers, premedia partners, packaging converters and ink companies. She brings together companies, people and ideas to guide the relevant players in the packaging industry adopt new technologies in practical and profitable ways.

Cooperman joined X-Rite in 2012 from the Eastman Kodak Company, previously Creo Products, where she held a variety of sales and technical positions in the Packaging and Strategic Accounts teams of the Graphic Communications Group. She delivered exceptional performance levels during her 13-year tenure with the company. She is a graduate of Ryerson University with a Bachelor of Technology in Graphic Communications Management. She also completed the Project Management Program and a Finance and Accounting program at the DuPree College of Management at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

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Lower Your Anilox Line Screen and Cell Volume for Better Performance!


by John Rastetter and John Bingham, Pamarco

It sounds counter-intuitive to lower your anilox line screen to improve performance but that’s exactly what we are proposing. Read on for a detailed review of the logic and the results.

For years anilox producers have been recommending that printers increase the anilox line screen to improve print reproduction. The thought is that by increasing the anilox line screen more support is given to the printing plate, producing cleaner print. Increasing line screen does insure that more cell walls contact the plate, but what it primarily does is reduce the percentage of cell volume that is transferred to the printing plate. The lower transfer efficiency creates a thinner ink film. A thinner ink film in turn produces cleaner print. However, there are negative side-effects of increased anilox line screen ; plugged cells, scoring, and pre-mature wear.

Lower Your Anilox Line Screen and Cell Volume for Better Performance
On the left is the EFlo cell technology and the right the HourGlass cell, note the clean sharp cell formation created by fiber-optic laser technology

Pamarco feels there is a better way to produce the same, or improved print result and at the same time increase ink transfer consistency and anilox durability. This is accomplished by decreasing the anilox cell count and reducing cell volume to produce anilox engraving that provide the correct ink film thickness, more consistent ink transfer and an engraving that is more durable.

Today’s anilox technology utilizes fiber-optic, multi-beam, Thermal engraving technology. To be more specific, Instead of using a blend of gases, mirrors, and tubes to produce a single laser beam, a crystal creates a short pulse-length beam that is so powerful a single beam is split into as many as four smaller ones. The splitting of the beam is what currently enables anilox cells to be “multi-pulsed” or “multi-cycled” creating cells that are “carved” with precision. The end result is a great deal of heat and energy directed into the cell of an anilox within a very short time-frame.

The benefit of fiber-optic technology is the ability to produce a wider range of line screens (35 lpi to over2000 lpi), increased cell depth and increased volume per line screen. This fiber-optic technology also allows us to create cell bottom that are flatter, shallower and smoother than a comparable CO2 laser engraving. Software advances in conjunction with this laser technology allow us to produce new cell shapes like EFlo and HourGlass, these new cell designs add additional performance benefits as well. However, If not implemented correctly the down-side of this technology can be a reduction in cell durability (resistance to scratching, scoring, and premature wear).

Older CO2 technology typically burned / engraved cells with a single pulse and at a pulse-length much longer than fiber-optic technology. CO2 technology does not vaporize as much of the ceramic that is burned away to form the cell, leaving a rim of melted ceramic on the cell walls referred to as re-cast. Melted and re-hardened ceramic is believed to be harder than the “as sprayed” ceramic on the surface of the anilox. This recast assists with durability of the engraving. Fiber-optic technology, because it burns at a shorter pulse length creates recast in a different way, it tends to accumulate in nodules or posts at the corners of the cell. If cell geometry is not correctly established by utilizing an acceptable depth to opening ratio, the multiple pulses inside each cell can over harden the nodules, causing them to become brittle. The end result can be chipping or breaking of these particles, creating pre-mature wear and/or tiny scratch or wide score lines on the anilox.

Since the anilox industries implementation of Thermal lasers, the focus has been to increase anilox line screen and cell volumes. Where a 4.0 bcm may have been utilized at a 400 line screen, today it is common to produce the same volume at a line screen of 600 and higher. The 600 line screen at a 4.0 bcm produces cleaner print than a 400 line screen at a 4.0 bcm because less of the 4.0 bcm volume transfers to the printing plate. This is caused by the fact that deeper cells have a lower transfer coefficient. The resulting transfer produces Print that is cleaner, but density is reduced and engraving life is compromised. Pamarco thinks a better approach, in most cases, is to decrease the anilox line screen and cell volume to reduce the ink film thickness transferred to the printing plate. This will produce cleaner print, targeted ink densities and anilox cells that are more resistant to wear and plugging.

Lower Your Anilox Line Screen and Cell Volume for Better Performance - engraving-testing
“Above are photographs of the 450 lpi – 3.4 bcm and 600 lpi – 4.0 bcm engravings tested on the banded roll. Cell depth on the 450 was 15.5 microns with a 53.4 micron opening (29% depth-to-opening ratio) versus a cell depth of 20.3 microns with a 40.3 micron depth (50% depth-to-opening ratio). Note the improved smoothness of the cell walls on the 450 lpi”.

An example of this can be illustrated by a recent banded roll test. A test was done to determine if a better alternative is available to a 600 lpi, 4.0 bcm, 60° cell used by a customer for combination process/line work/solids printing and a 900 lpi, 2.6 bcm, 60° cell used for process print. To enable us to utilize a more durable lower line screen engraving, without sacrificing print cleanliness, it was necessary to also decrease the cell volume as we decreased the line screen.

Eight engravings were tested – 600 lpi – 4.0 bcm, 550 lpi – 3.8 bcm, 500 lpi – 3.6 bcm and 450 lpi – 3.4 bcm for combination print and a 900 lpi – 2.6 bcm, 850 lpi – 2.5 bcm, 800 lpi – 2.4 bcm and a 750 lpi – 2.3 bcm for process print. The end result was, by reducing both line screen and volume, all four engravings in each category produced nearly identical density and dot gain results. The advantage of utilizing the lower line screen and volume engraving is the cell surface is much smoother and it will transfer its volume more consistently.

Lower Your Anilox Line Screen and Cell Volume for Better Performance - LPI
The table above shows the results of the highest and lowest LPI for each application, please note the LPI, BCM, density and dot gain results for each.

In addition, Pamarco believes engravings used with steel doctor blades should be diamond film polished after engraving using a precision mechanical process. This process removes the nodules and creates a flat, smooth surface that is resistant to wear. All of our engravings used with steel doctor blades receive this process. In addition by utilizing lower cell count and volume ratios this process can be done with much more successful and repeatable results. Cell walls are flatter, smoother, and narrower, allowing for greater durability while insuring consistency in ink transfer and print performance.

The anilox’s “job” is to transfer a precise, predictable, and consistent ink film to the printing plate. The ink film is determined by the cell volume, not the line screen. It may be time to re-think the specifications of this import tool for greater long-term printing performance, consistency and durability.

For more information about Pamarco or for help acquiring the correct specifications for your anilox rolls, please call us at 1-800-53Flexo.

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