Plugged Cells?


Cell plugging is a common issue associated with anilox rolls. It is a costly problem that can be controlled or eliminated from your process through the use of recent technological advancements and a preventative maintenance program. Instead of listing the many problems that cell plugging creates, I’ll get right to the real focus of this article: how to maintain consistent anilox volume control. We all know that there are an enormous amount of variables in the Flexo process. In order to stabilize those variables and maximize your investments, it is up to you to control the issues that are within your power. This article is intended to give you the tools to do just that.


The Anilox Roll

The anilox roll is the mechanical heartbeat of every Flexo process. With each beat of that anilox heart, there is either a sellable or a non-sellable product being created. Managing the variables of the anilox process is where the preventative maintenance program really comes into play. Controlling, tracking and performing scheduled preventative maintenance are the keys to ensuring the making of a consistently sellable product.

Press operators and their support team are the human heartbeat of preventative maintenance. Their cooperation and proper training will maximize your anilox investments and facilitate the production of consistently sellable product off the press. The process is as follows: the volume of each anilox correlates directly to the ink film thickness consistently being transferred to the plate; the ink that is being metered by the anilox must be maintained at optimum and recommended pH/viscosity levels to ensure precise and uniform ink release, as well as a decrease in plugging issues. Common practice by press operators is to add base to ink on press to compensate for inadequate printed ink density and this is costly. A individual anilox rolls unanticipated volume loss, creates the need to make ink adjustments or change anilox rolls. Due to the intricacy and importance of the anilox roll, operators need to; care for them, get to know them, and subsequently trust each roll in their mix to maintain the highest levels of productivity.

Technologically speaking, recent advancements have given rise to improved cell geometry and greater consistency of engravings. Pamarco’s EFlo engraving is a prime example of an advancement in anilox cell geometry. This new technology  provides the ability to improve both productivity and metering consistency.

EFlo engraving

The EFlo engraving is an extended cell that allows for 15% more ink release, while having the shallowest, flattest-bottomed cells. The shallow shape of the cells means longer running press times without the need for stopping to clean up. Longer press times means increased productivity. Cell-plugging issues are also reduced through the use of the shallow cell geometry, making it easier to thoroughly clean and maintain consistent ink films. These translate to an increased line screen of your anilox roll when converting from conventional → EFlo, due to the improved control of ink release.

Cell Plugging & Effective Anilox Care

Information compiled by Pamarco through anilox evaluations points to many converters struggling with both cell plugging and effective anilox care. Cell volume is one of the keys to understanding these problems. The cell volume is measured in Billion Cubic Microns or “BCM.” This is the volumetric capacity of ink or coating that an individual engraved anilox cell can carry. Maintaining uniform volumetric capacity throughout all of the engraved cells on an anilox roll is critical in effectively producing consistent, quality products. It only takes a 10 to 15% reduction in cell volume because of plugging to create consistency issues on press. Pamarco’s Cell Restore has been proven to be a solution to this difficulty throughout the industry, and was formulated specifically for breaking down cross-linked, water-based resins.

Cell plugging is caused by a build-up of dry ink or coating in the cell bottoms. Cell Restore was engineered with a focus on breaking down and swelling the dry ink, and that’s exactly what it does. It is a neutral pH, spray-on solution that fractures cross-linked resins on a micro emulsion layer, without jeopardizing the life span of the ceramic coating. It is also very user friendly. After applying the Cell Restore and letting it work for 5 minutes, a micro-fiber pad is used to remove the swelled and suspended resins from the cells. It is recommended to incorporate this cleaning solution into your regular Preventive Maintenance schedule to prolong the time period between major cleanings (I.E. Soda Blasting Units from Eaglewood Technologies Sanilox System).

In conclusion, incorporating a comprehensive program focused on maintaining the integrity of your anilox roll inventory will add value to your investment.  Your process will see a reduction in hidden costs, improved quality and greater consistency. The print nip for each unit of a Flexographic press should be looked at as a body, surrounding its mechanical heart (the anilox roll). It works to the favor of both the printers and the converters to collaborate with and draw upon the expertise of their vendors. When properly utilized, the relationship that you have with your anilox roll vendor can greatly benefit your business.

About Pamarco:

Committed to the market since 1946. From offering the most extensive portfolio of products on the market, to offering the best consultative advice, to delivering an overall superior customer service; all underpinned by their passionate corporate culture, Pamarco has been able to build enduring and meaningful relationships with converters and OEM suppliers all around the world. To find out what Pamarco can do for you, visit

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3 Tips to Prevent UV Ink Spitting


by Doug Jones, Apex International

UV inks are considered by many to be the most popular in the narrow-web space.  And for good reason.  Print results with UV inks are consistently better than those using water or solvent-based inks.  But the use of UV inks is not without its challenges.  Chief among those challenges is the issue of spitting.

There are several theories as to why spitting occurs with UV inks and not with water or solvent inks.  Generally, these revolve around the higher viscosity of UV inks comparied to water or solvent and the impact it has on the doctor blade.  Specifically, the higher viscosity can move the blade just enough to allow more ink than is intended to slip through.  Other theories suggest that anilox cell type, viscosity, press speed and doctor blade specifications all play a role.  Regardless, the results can be a disaster, particularly at high speeds.


While exactly why spitting occurs is a subject for debate, what is not in dispute is that the relationship between doctor blade and anilox is at the core.  If spitting is creating a challenge in your shop, try these tips for better print results:

1. A stiffer doctor blade may prevent excess ink from getting under and transfering to the plate and substrate.

Testing shows a thicker blade will minimize UV spitting because they resists hydroplaning and do not allow texcess ink to transfer to the anilox.

2. Try a 30° anilox cell with openings

The ink can move through the openings in the anilox cell walls preventing ink from being built up onto the back of the doctor blade.  (Situation 1a).


A word of caution: This solution is only temporary. Because the roll will wear over time, the openings will become smaller and eventually disappear. So over time you will get the same situation as with the regular anilox roll. Ink will built up at the back of the doctor blade (situation 1b).

3. Try GTT Channel engravings.  

There is no pressure built up at the doctor blade because the ink can move through the GTT channels. Therefore no ink builds up onto the back of the doctor blade and no ink drops from the doctor blade onto the flexographic plate or substrate.


Get the flexo solutions guide now!


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Color Evaluation Pitfalls in Flexo Applications


by Tim Mouw, Applications Engineering & Technical Support Manager, X-Rite Pantone

Lighting plays a huge role in how you perceive color, making a light booth a crucial part of any flexographic visual evaluation program. It can help you verify whether the color of your product is acceptable, plus ensure colors will remain accurate in every lighting condition at point of sale and after purchase.

Visual evaluation is especially important for packaging applications, which require consistent color across different substrates, inks and printing processes. You can spend hours getting brand colors right, but if packaging doesn’t match on the store shelf, the product will be seen as inadequate.

Always view your prints under lighting conditions that conform to ISO standards. In addition to D50 (daylight), you may need to view production samples under other lights that simulate store or household lighting to assure that different parts of the package, such as the label and the box, will continue to match on display shelves or in the consumer’s home.

X-Rite’s Spectralight QC

 X-Rite’s Spectralight QC is a holistic visual color assessment system with state-of-the-art light sources capable of meeting practically any brand owner specification.

However, just using a light booth isn’t enough. Today we’ll share a few common pitfalls our customers encounter when visually evaluating color.

  1. Light booths are painted Munsell gray, a neutral shade that does not distract your eyes from the colors you are evaluating. It’s important to keep everything else around you neutral, too. Wearing brightly colored clothes or storing objects in your light booth will distract your vision.
  1. Make sure your light booth is the only source of light in the room. If you set it up it in the print shop under bright fluorescent lighting, or place it near a window with sunlight pouring through, these light sources will interact with the standard source you have selected in your booth and skew your results.

X-Rite’sLight Booth

  1. Do you wear glasses or contacts? Make sure the lenses aren’t tinted, because even a little color can make a difference when you’re judging slight variations in color.
  1. When looking for color difference between two samples, they should be touching. Leaving even a little blank space between them can trick your eye into missing a slight shift in color.

Judge QC

With five light sources, X-Rite’s Judge QC will help you evaluate standard to samples and batch-to-batch color variation.

  1. Staring at a color for longer than a few seconds doesn’t improve your decision-making ability. In fact, our delicate eyes require frequent rest during critical color evaluation. Once they start to get tired, they’ll send incorrect information to your brain, so only look at a sample for a few seconds, then close your eyes and let them rest before looking again.

Want to learn more? Check out The Science Behind Visual Evaluation on X-Rite’s blog for a more technical explanation for making your visual evaluation program the best it can be.

Mouw_TimAbout the Author:

Tim Mouw is the manager of the Applications Engineering and Technical Support Team for X-Rite in the Americas. In his role, Tim oversees a team of 20 technical support specialists that help customers improve color quality control processes. Over the past two decades, Tim has tough over 300 courses on color science across North & South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

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Cut Print Production Cost & Improve Quality and Consistency


From the time Printing has been accepted as a means of communication, the effort has been to transfer ink from the tray to the substrate. There have been consistent developments and the target has been to improve the quality of fixed palette or expanded gamut print, for short or long run.


Different printing processes also developed to suit the printing of various substrates. All the printing processes have some common factors. These are:

  1. Transfer ink from a tray(container) to the substrate.
  2. Use the correct shade of ink to get the correct shade in print.
  3. Use the correct volume to get the correct depth.
  4. Distribute the ink uniformly to get even colour across the substrate and to get the correct tonal gradation.
  5. To use the best resolution possible on the press. This is not always true. As there are presses that can print higher resolution, but even than lower resolution is used:
    1. To suit the substrate being used
    2. To be safe with a lower resolution
  6. For multicolour printing to use CMYK + pantone inks of the correct hue and density for correct colour reproduction.

To achieve the above objective every effort has been directed towards improving the depth of the colour and range in print. In the process a higher volume of ink is being used that produces a thicker layer on the substrate and requires more energy to dry.

One look at the recent development that have taken place in the Flexo industry will show that all the photo polymer plate manufactures have tried to:

  • Target improved ink transfer in the solid areas to improve the ink transfer(increase the ink volume) to get a higher solid colour depth.
  • Trying hard to hold a finer dot(of 1% and below) of a finer screen ruling on plate, at a higher plate and equipment cost that add to the cost of processing the plates
  • This capability is limited to the use of special plates and software meant for use with these equipment.

All these require higher investments and add to the cost of production.

Almost all anilox roll manufacturers have tried to create a higher cell volume with finer screen rulings so as to provide the required depth of colour in the solids when using the finer screen on plate.

The time has come to look at the possibility of changing this by:

  1. Using standard lower density inks for most jobs, improving the printing of the highlights.
  2. Using a more uniform and thinner layer of ink, without losing the required print densities
  3. Improve press speed and production capacity
  4. Improve the colour gamut in print while eliminating the need to use pantone shade inks
  5. Black ink uses carbon as the main ingredient. The reduction or elimination of black ink in print makes printing more environment friendly and provides you with carbon credits. It makes packaging of food more healthy and less toxic.

That helps reduce the cost of printing, while producing a greater depth in colour, improving the print range and reducing the energy to dry the thinner layer of ink. When you do this change you:

  1. You eliminate the inventory of Pantone inks
  2. The make ready time required to match the colour in print, on the press. It also reduces the cost of wasted /unused Pantone shade inks in stock at the end of the year, every year.
  3. Reduce the anilox inventory and use the same anilox rolls for almost all jobs.
  4. Reduce the overhead costs, with reduced press down time, as you use the same anilox rolls for the same colour on the same station.

One notices that Gravure printing is able to achieve the highest print densities even though they use liquid inks, while in Offset printing the ink densities are the lowest. This is because the ink layer laid on the substrate, in offset, is the thinnest.

If we are to reduce the density of the inks we use in printing than the cost of the inks would come down. By reducing the ink density we are reducing the density of the highlight areas. This will reduce the effect of dot gain in the highlights, which is a major problem in flexo printing. This small change will enable us to print the fine highlight details easily and cleanly. It will also allow us to print the vignettes smoothly even when we use coarse screen with coarser screen anilox rolls. Even though the coarser screen anilox rolls use a higher cell volume and will provide a thicker layer of ink, the lower density in the highlights will reduce the effect of the dot gain to the eye and provide the required softness to the image.

Get the Flexo Solutions Guide Now!

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Making the Best of a Necessary Good: Marking, Identification & COOL


By Liz Churchill, Vice President for Sales & Marketing, and Lyndsey Farrow, Marketing Communications Specialist, Matthews Marking Systems

It’s easy to think of variable marking, coding and identification requirements as a necessary evil, but the truth is they’re a necessary good. Look at all the ways packaging codes and markings can benefit consumers, producers, retailers and the brand itself.

Documenting Origin and Freshness

Every smart shopper looks at the “best by” or “use by” code to make sure they’re getting a fresh product – and to judge whether items that have migrated to the back of the fridge need to be thrown out.

Country of origin labeling (COOL) for meats, fish, shellfish, nuts, fruits and vegetables can also benefit consumers by providing information to guide purchase decisions, and by helping packers, processors and retailers ensure the integrity and traceability of the food supply. COOL can be controversial, and the World Trade Organization recently ruled that mandatory COOL legislation in the U.S. for muscle-cut meats presents an unfair barrier to international trade.

However, companies and legislators who believe in the benefits are still pursuing options such as voluntary COOL – and mandatory COOL still applies to a wide range of consumable products. Most important, surveys have repeatedly shown that shoppers prefer to know where their foods come from, and the USDA has concluded that COOL benefits the consumer.

Shoppers usually get their way in the marketplace, and, whether mandatory or voluntary, labels identifying country of origin are likely to play a greater role in the decisions they make at the meat case and produce aisle.

Ensuring Authenticity and Safety

Far less controversial than COOL, but even more important to product safety, are the bar codes and other serialized markings used to identify individual lots, shipments and packages of drugs, cosmetics and other products for purposes of authentication and traceability.

Serialization codes are essential for supply-chain management and assurance. They provide the ability to track products from source to consumer, and to recall products quickly in the event of a problem. They support compliance with local regulations, such as varying tax codes or disclosure requirements in different jurisdictions. They can help ensure the supply chain is efficient and accountable. And they can help give consumers confidence that the products they consume are genuine and safe.

Delivering a Better Experience

Increasingly, variable marking is also being used to understand and respond to the preferences of individual shoppers. Serialized codes can be printed on loyalty cards, on promotional flyers and coupons, inside bottle caps, on product packages and more.

Variable codes and personalized graphics can engage shoppers and encourage them to take action – by participating in a contest, claiming a discount, earning a perk. And the data behind the markings can be used to help manage promotional programs and gain insight into each shopper’s behavior.

Serialization can also provide the data you need to determine whether goods are being purchased in-store or online, at which particular retailers, and even whether specific types of promotions are meeting their targets. Codes can even be used to help prevent a program from going viral and blowing through your promotional budget.

Strengthening and Protecting Brands

In the final analysis, all types of identification codes are about brand trust. The information printed on the package isn’t just data. It’s a story about where the item has been and how fresh it is. Reassurance that it’s safe to consume. Motivation to make the brand a part of the consumer’s everyday life.

That’s why most manufacturers will include codes such as “best by” dates even though there’s no regulatory requirement to do so. If the code isn’t present and trustworthy, shoppers won’t just abandon the purchase. They may abandon the brand.

Conversely, markings that are legible, helpful and reliable benefit everyone who touches the brand – from supply chain managers, to marketers, to retailers, to the shoppers who ultimately determine brand success.

Better Processes and Technologies for Better Marking, Coding and Identification

With all the good that variable marking and coding can do, why do brand owners, packaging engineers and production line managers regard it as a necessary evil? There are many reasons package and label markings can be costly, difficult to manage and error-prone. Here are the top three issues, and what you can do to address them.

  1. Print Quality. Poorly printed markings bring consequences. A juice bottle may be left on the shelf because the freshness date is illegible. A shopper may lose confidence in brand quality or authenticity if the label doesn’t “look right.” A recall may balloon to disastrous proportions if a defective bar code makes a bad lot of product untraceable.

A smudged “best by” date used to be regarded as acceptable, but that’s old thinking. There’s no reason today to accept anything less than the best possible print quality appropriate to the application. Labels and packages should be designed from the beginning to optimize marking requirements – from leaving a discrete space where state tax codes can be printed on a wine bottle label, all the way to printing logos and promotional information directly on the package in the same step as the variable code.

Brands that care about quality should also invest in the best available print technology. Big advancements in inkjet, thermal and laser printing have been made in just the past five years. In fact, the print quality, speed and control offered by today’s most advanced systems can rival the capabilities of traditional printing technologies – so variable markings can be designed as a seamless part of the preprinted package or label.

  1. Data Management. Regulations change. Different jurisdictions have different information and format requirements, even though the product in the package may be the same. Consider, for example, the sweeping changes to food labeling regulations that have come to the EU – or the new FDA regulations that will soon be changing the look and content of labels in the U.S.

To all that, add the complexity of managing multiple printing systems on multiple production lines – not only for primary packaging, but secondary and tertiary packaging as well. Brands need to centralize packaging design and printing control in order to respond quickly to content and format changes across all packaging types and minimize the risk of incorrectly coded packages.

An advanced, centralized print controller can be configured to draw product and supply chain information from official sources – such as product information databases, ERP systems and brand asset repositories. Based on this data, markings can be designed to meet the requirements of each regulation, label design and package type, with any changes propagated automatically to all printers of every type, anywhere.

3.Cost Control. Printing codes can affect production costs in several ways, especially when applying adhesive labels. For example, there’s the capital and maintenance costs for labeling equipment. There’s the cost of buying consumables such as print ribbons and adhesive labels, and of managing the waste they leave behind. There’s the cost of lost production and scrap when consumables need to be changed or when labeling creates a bottleneck on the production line. And there’s the cost of separately managing and storing preprinted boxes and labels.

While traditional preprinting and labeling methods will remain the preferred choice for many brands and marking applications, the speed, simplicity and quality of today’s direct-print systems can offer a cost-effective alternative in the right circumstances. Direct printing can help brands gain market flexibility while saving preprinting, warehousing and labeling costs. Depending on the package design, secondary and even primary packaging can be printed in a single step right on the production line – not just variable markings but also the brand logo, messaging, nutrition facts, promotions and more.

Turn a Necessary Good into an Opportunity

There are many other potential issues and strategies for addressing them. But the core takeaway is that variable marking and coding isn’t a necessary evil – it’s a positive good that benefits the consumer and the brand. More than that, it can be an opportunity to improve production processes while helping your brand stand apart in the marketplace.

With over 160 years of experience – leading up to today’s most advanced technologies – Matthews Marking Systems understands your marking and coding challenges, and how these challenges can be re-envisioned as opportunities for your brand. Visit our website for guidance on specific applications and a complete library of coding and marking resources.

Matthews Marking Systems is part of Matthews International Corporation, the parent company of SGK.

Liz Churchill_Matthews_headshotLiz Churchill, VP Sales and Marketing, Matthews Marking Systems has 30 years’ experience in the product identification area, identifying products through bar codes, text and graphics in industrial, CPG, pharmaceutical and medical device markets. With an Industrial and Systems Engineering degree from The Ohio State University, Liz has been issued two application patents for a track and trace system in the global wine market. Presently, Liz focuses on global sales and marketing, working with sister companies to provide winning solutions from primary packaging through distribution of products.

Lyndsey Farrow_Matthews_headshotLyndsey Farrow, Marketing Communications Specialist, is an expert in marking and coding requirements for a variety of industries with Matthews Marking Systems, a Division of Matthews International Corporation.

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Filed under Labels, Printing

Back Doctoring – Causes and Solutions


If you’ve ever experienced the hard deposits left by dripping inks and back doctoring, you know it can impact print quality, damage equipment, and cause cleaning and maintenance headaches… but wouldn’t you also like to know why it keeps happening?


It starts seemingly simple enough – with visible ink leakage dripping in the catch pan under the doctor blade chamber. Yet, when seals and calibration settings are checked there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong. But the proof is right there in the pan and on your equipment.

Your problem could be due to back doctoring.

When excess ink remains on the anilox roller, it can cause drips and icicle-like build up that impacts the overall performance of your press. This is particularly common on Central Impression Presses where back-side decks rotate against the containment blade and leave residue.

Is it back doctoring? Here is how to check:

  • Are there any tell-tale icicles forming on the backside of equipment and bottom of the blade holder?
  • Does the problem persist even after adjusting pressure settings?
  • Are your end seals in proper working order?
  • Does the problem persist even after ensuring all chambers and anilox rolls are parallel with one another?

If you answered yes to one or more of these items, you can reduce and prevent back doctoring with the right kind of doctor blades installed on your equipment.

Download the full Back Doctoring White Paper for more information. 

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Enhancing the Colour Gamut in Fixed-Palette Printing


by Doug Jones & R S Bakshi

Multicolour or fixed palette printing is generally associated with printing with 4 process colour inks namely CMYK. Sometimes it also uses additional Pantone shades, to produce a colour shade that is not reproducible using the CMYK process colours. This system has been in use for many years and is still in vogue. In many cases, higher density inks have been used to improve the printing of process colours by using higher density inks to produce the richer/darker colours. Though this helps to improve the richness of the colours, it makes the highlights darker in print which can at sometimes be drawback.


There have been attempts to improve the printing of process colours by printing 6 colours namely CMYKOG which came in very powerfully, but somehow never gathered momentum.

Thereafter another system came in with improved capabilities. Over the years that team has worked very hard to improve its performance, in more ways than one. The present system if fully equipped to help the printer get full benefits, by using this system.

Of late, there has been a lot of interest in creating awareness in following the 7 colour system of printing, with a consortium of companies coming together to focus on this system, now known as the REVO project. I think this is a good move as it will benefit the printers, substantially, to follow this system of 7 colour printing, as a standard practice. This principle of 7 colour printing, can be practiced independently of the companies of the consortium and a printer is free to choose the partners it he wants.

The best part of the system is that it gives the pre-press department, the ability to convert the RBG/CMYK image into separations for CMYRGBK, within no time, that enhances the Colour Gamut reproduction which is very easily seen on the monitor itself. This is the only software, I have seen, that can do this without batting an eyelid. Earlier we used to spend hours in trying to prepare a separation for printing a Pantone* shade to combine with the CMYK image, by manipulating the CMYK image separations. The system also allows you to edit the separations, to an extreme, that I have not seen before. Also the editing functions are simple and easy to manage.

The improved Colour Gamut that one sees on the monitor can be easily reproduced using the defined set of inks. It also improves the appearance of the metallic colours like gold and silver which is really amazing. The use of the ink suggested can also be used as standard for printing of all jobs, irrespective of the printing process or substrate used. The essence is to use a good white substrate with the standard set of inks.

Get the Flexo Solutions Guide Now!

The names used in this article with an * are the registered Trade Marks of the individual companies.

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Flexo’s Future – Expanded Color Gamut


by Richard Black, All Printing Resources, Inc.

The Flexographic print process has long been thought of as a simple print process, not capable of the same quality as the lithographic print process. In the last five years there have been many advances in plate technology, digital platemaking process, and screening that have dramatically improved the quality of Flexo. It is very common today for converters to run 150 lpi, and many have made the jump to 175 or 200 lpi along with the ability to fade screen vignettes to zero. These specifications would have been virtually impossible a few short years ago.

Is ECG Just the Latest Trend?

The ability to print fine screen rulings and fade screen vignettes to zero have made a resurrected technology possible, printing with an Expanded Color Gamut (ECG). ECG printing has been around for quite some time. The Lithographic industry has been using it, in limited areas, since the early 1990’s. Matter of fact, in an article written by Don Hutcheson for the 1999 GATF Technology Forecast ( the following Extended Gamut systems (then called HiFi Color) were commercially available in 1998:

  • Hexachrome (CMYK+OG) – Pantone
  • MaxCYM (CMYK+CMYK) – Royal Zenith and then the basis for DuPont’s HyperColor
  • Opaltone (CMYK+RGB)

Why Are We Talking About it Now?

FLEXO Magazine Cover - Oct 2014 Expanded Color Gamut - CMYK+OGV

FLEXO Magazine Cover – Oct 2014 Expanded Color Gamut – CMYK+OGV

So, if the technology has been around for so long, why is everyone in Flexo just now talking about it?  The main reason is the ability to reproduce a majority of spot or Pantone colors using only 7 inks, CMYK+OGV. This has recently been demonstrated with the 2014 & 2105 fall covers of FLEXO Magazine.

Last October the front cover was printed Flexo using 7/color ECG and the back cover was also printed Flexo using standard 4/color process. The color difference and Pantone color match was amazing using the 7/color ECG process.

The 2015 November cover of FLEXO Magazine was again printed using the 7/color ECG process but this time it was compared to a 4/color cover printed using litho.

Award-winning connections

Gidue Wins 2015 FTA Innovation Award

Gidue Wins 2015 FTA Innovation Award

We (APR) were lucky enough to be involved in both projects. Earlier this year Gidue (now Bobst) was notified that they had won the 2015 FTA Technical Innovation Award. The award was presented to Gidue at the FTA Forum/InfoFlex in May.

The FTA asked Gidue if they would like to participate in printing the November cover of FLEXO Magazine using theGidue M5 Digital Flexo Excellence Press located at the APR Technology Center (located in Glendale Heights, IL), along with the 2014 FTA Technical Innovation Award Winners,Esko Equinox and SpotOn! Flexo. Gidue agreed and project planning began. The goal of this project was to demonstrate the quality of 7/color ECG printing versus normal 4/color process printed litho.

Putting it all together

In August, APR hosted 12 industry-invited personnel, plus a few of us at APR, to print from scratch, the November cover of theFLEXO Magazine. This meant we needed to Optimize, Fingerprint and Characterize the Gidue press prior to actually printing the cover. This process required 4 press runs and 16 plates before we had the proper information to create the profile and the final 7 plates required for the cover. The process is intense but the results are amazing.

Below is an example of the 4/color Litho cover versus the 7/color ECG Flexo cover printed at APR.

FLEXO Magazine Cover - Nov 2015 Standard Process Color - CMYK

FLEXO Magazine Cover – Nov 2015
Standard Process Color – CMYK

FLEXO Magazine Cover Nov 2015 Expanded Color Gamut - CMYK+OGV

FLEXO Magazine Cover Nov 2015
Expanded Color Gamut – CMYK+OGV











You can see how vibrant and colorful the 7/color ECG cover is compared to the normal 4/color cover. Also note the Purple in theFLEXO masthead, as well as, the green and yellow side bars. These areas are spot colors that would normally have to be run in their own print station but with 7/color ECG process you can reproduce these and virtually any other color.

The November FLEXO Magazine debuted November 3, 2015 at the FTA Fall Conference in Columbus, OH. The following link will direct you to the electronic version of the 12-page article that appears in the magazine.

These two magazine covers demonstrate that the 7/color ECG process is viable and the products/technologies required for this process are commercially available.

Industry-wide acceptance of Expanded Color Gamut

Pantone Extended Gamut Guide

Pantone Extended Gamut Guide

Another major step forward in the acceptance of the 7/color ECG process happened in September when Pantone announced a newPantone® Plus Series Extended Gamut Coated Guide printed using the 7/color ECG process.

For years we (the printing industry) have shown content creators and designers the Pantone Plus Series Formula Guide®, and said you can pick any 2 or 3 of these colors, that we would run as a special or spot color. With the new Extended Gamut Color guide, content creators and designers can pick as many of these color as they want!


Hands-on experience with Expanded Color Gamut Printing

APR & Esko ECG Seminar Sample Job

APR & Esko ECG Seminar Sample Job

Earlier this year, Esko and APR held an Expanded Gamut class where we produced a series of labels printed on the Gidue M5 press using 200 lpi and Esko’s Full HD Flexo & Equinox technologies both in 4/color process and 7/color ECG.

The results were amazing. The 7/color ECG labels faithfully reproduced all 15,  yes 15 Pantone colors. So imagine if this was a commercial job and the customer asked you for a label with 15 Pantone colors, what would you do?  It’s not IF ECG will become the standard for Flexo printing it’s WHEN, and the when is quickly becoming now!

Kind of makes you scratch you head doesn’t it

To read the original article, visit

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5 Things to Know About – Handheld Color Measurement Instruments


A Series By All Printing Resources


1.) A handheld color measurement instrument is only as good as its last calibration/certification.

  • These instruments need to be calibrated regularly. A Spectrophotometer should be calibrated at least once a day to its White reference tile.
  • Most manufacturers recommend having your unit re-certified to factory settings once a year or every other year.

2.) Densitometers and Spectrophotometers read color differently.

  • Actually, Densitometers do not read color at all! They read the absence of reflected light back to the densitometer unit. That’s why you can read a Magenta and get a density of 1.25 and also read a Cyan and get a density of 1.25
  • Spectrophotometers read the actual wavelengths of light in nanometers. These measurements are known as Spectral Information or Spectral Data. From Spectral Data you can calculate every metric commonly used, such as CEILAB, Density, Dot Area, Delta E, etc…

3.) Set up your instruments to industry recommended settings such as FIRST 5.0:

  • Density – Status T
  • Density Absolute (including substrate)
  • Dot Area
  • Illuminate/Observer D50-2
  • Delta E (∆E) formula – dE 2000

4.) Take all measurements using a common backing material.

  • Usually White L* > 92, C* < 3

5.) Keep your instrument clean.

  • Handheld color measurement instruments are expensive and have many areas where dust and dirt can compromise the measurements
  • Find a clean common place to store the instrument and its calibration plaque

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Artwork Excellence as a Growth Strategy


By Phil Mueller, Vice President, Global Client Services, BLUE Software

What if your company could do what it does, only better? Do it faster. Do it right the first time, requiring less rework. Get more efficient. Improve quality. Help people make better decisions for your business.

The future of every consumer packaged goods company is dependent on its efforts to find new ways to increase revenue, reduce costs, and reduce the risk of catastrophic product recalls due to inaccurate labeling or outdated artwork. Labeling, artwork management, and packaging are not usually considered pathways to company growth. It’s easy to get distracted by short-term plans such as hiring more sales consultants and cutting budgets and neglect developing operational capabilities, even if the latter could produce a sustainable competitive advantage. Maybe you’re overseeing packaging and looking for a way to streamline the process of getting your product to market on schedule, or perhaps you’re in marketing, looking to increase product sales. Whatever your specific role, working with a software as a service platform has a myriad of advantages to improve your business and avoid potential catastrophes.

Companies turn to us because one of their biggest revenue issues is getting product to market on schedule. When they miss the launch schedule, the window of opportunity to make the biggest profits narrows, decreasing potential revenue. Making things even more difficult, leaders typically have no easy visibility into the status of all the critical tasks and approvals that lead up to printing labels and shipping product. They know they are late, but they don’t know how late or how to speed things up.

So, removing the obstacles to make more money is a major concern, but lowering the risk of recall and associated cost is paramount for companies. Packaging and labeling errors account for more than half of product recalls, even with quality departments, systems, and protocols already in place. People know the stakes are high, but errors are still made. What else can be done?

Let’s get back to doing what your company does, only better. We put together the Maturity Model for Artwork Excellence to help you assess where you are now, where you’d like to be, and give you an idea of the specific capabilities you can focus on developing in order to get there.


Courtesy of BLUE Software

Most companies are at an Artwork Management capability level we call “Repeatable” because they are continually executing labeling approvals that follow a GxP-compliant process. They document approvals in hard copy form with wet signatures at key points along their quality control path. They are using technology to document approvals and signatures or to store historical documents, but these tools are first-generation and are not integrated or coordinated. Usually no coherent strategy for global governance of these tools or the artwork change process is in place.

Improvement to a “Defined” capability level can be pursued by bringing the company’s executives to recognize the key benefits of artwork excellence so they are willing to invest in a solution. The company codifies their process and automates it using a digital workflow to control. At this point, companies have improved the quality of their output to significantly reduce re-work, improve cycle times, and meet schedule. This is when the focus on reducing costs and risks abates (it never goes away) and focus turns to gaining a more competitive position in the marketplace.

As Artwork Excellence more fully penetrates the organization it moves to the “Managed” maturity level. Here, leadership can articulate the value and ROI to the broader organization, which has now developed, implemented, and is leveraging its own best practices. Artwork approvers from many departments and even third parties can complete their reviews and approvals using mobile devices. Human error and required effort are reduced with automatic compare tools. Key performance indicators help to constantly improve processes and actively manage to schedule.

The vision is to achieve an “Optimized” maturity level, with a high level of adoption, live dashboard KPI displays, automated copy management and integration with other global software platforms. The historical durations and effort documented in the system is used to influence business decisions to increase value or further speed up processes. The company now has the ability to control distribution of 100% accurate labeling data to customers, partners, suppliers, and other key stakeholders.

The future of every company is dependent on its efforts to find new ways to increase revenue, reduce costs, and reduce the risk of catastrophic product recalls. Indeed, the same is true of every ambitious professional. You have the ability to make your company better by leading transformation, moving people to change for the better. It starts with the right partner.

To take advantage of planning and mindshare efficiencies, make sure the software partner you choose can help you move not only into a Defined state, but can help you all along the pathway to Managed and Optimized positions. Having to change partners mid-journey can delay your progress and significantly increase your artwork management costs.

Because packaging is increasingly a legal document, it’s not something a company can afford to get wrong. Where does your company stand on the Artwork Excellence Maturity Model? Where would you like to be? How will you advance?

About the Author:
Headshot Mueller, Phil
Phil Mueller is Vice President, Global Client Services at BLUE Software, where he oversees all enterprise level implementations of BLUETM brand lifecycle management software.

In his twelfth year with the company, Phil is a strategic leader in developing software that meets real market needs and can be successfully implemented following a quality-driven process for Fortune 500 Consumer Goods, Pharmaceutical and Retail companies. Visit for more information. Connect with Phil on LinkedIn.

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Filed under Artwork/Graphics Management, Prepress