Pop Goes the Package
Packaging reaches out to shoppers, engages them, informs them and reinforces a brand on store shelves. Nowhere is this more true than on flexible packaging, where vivid colors and eye-catching graphics make a package "pop."
The technologies of choice for this purpose have been gravure and flexography, with the latter historically considered the poor cousin when it came to quality. A big change came along in the 1990s with the introduction of digital plates, but the big leap forward was in 2008 with the advent of high-definition flexography. First introduced by Kodak, the industry now has numerous high-definition flexo solutions designed to improve reproduction of highlights, shadows and vignettes, increase printed line screen capabilities, improve ink lay-down, and deliver vibrant color and gravure-like print quality—all key aspects in producing packaging that pops. Continually being refined, high-def flexography significantly narrows the gap with gravure. Read on to find out if it's right for you and your packaging clients.
Introduction of a high-definition flexo system can have a profound effect on production efficiency, cost reduction and quality, regardless of printed line screen or graphic design. High-def systems have been designed to encompass both image reproduction and production efficiency to deliver plates that enable faster changeovers on press, higher press speeds and longer plate lives, and reduce preparation time and ink and substrate waste. High-def plates typically also print more consistently than conventional plates on long print runs, resulting in fewer wash-ups. The extended gamut offered by high-def systems can also reduce the number of colors required to print a given design—including spot colors.
High-definition flexo is actually a combination of hardware, software and plate technologies. Resolutions ranging up to 5080 dpi create finer images with more detail and wider tonal range, resulting in high-quality text and line art. But this technology is not just an effort by equipment and software vendors to foist new offerings on printers and converters. In the face of SKU proliferation and brand extension, there is huge pressure from brand owners for converters to provide packaging with better shelf impact, to drive costs down, and to turn jobs faster to minimize time-to-market. High-definition flexography is a way to deliver on these needs—and let printers and converters do so profitably. That's important because higher quality, by itself, rarely commands a price premium.