A New Approach to Microscopic Screening for Controlling Ink Spread in Flexographic Printing

Dr. John Anderson, Miraclon Corporation (InterTech Award Recipient)

Since the introduction of the flexo printing process, the nature of the raised print surface, liquid inks, and print impression have combined to push ink off the raised surface making the printed area grow, reverses fill in, and dots to join up causing dirty print, resulting in reduced quality and lost productivity through the need to stop and clean plates. This has always been accepted as a necessary evil of the flexographic printing process. PureFlexo Printing promises to change that, said the Pinnacle InterTech judges, by using sophisticated plate surface patterning technology to resist the tendency of ink to spread during printing.

Since its introduction in 2008, the KODAK FLEXCEL NX system has steadily addressed the fundamental challenges of flexographic printing, building a solid foundation, but did not address the unwanted ink spread from the edges of all the features in the print.

PureFlexo™ Printing is a patented process that builds on the prior benefits of ink laydown optimization, but now enables unprecedented and previously unimagined control on the physical gain caused by unwanted ink spread, for colored inks printing with solvent based inks on flexible packaging.

Applied as an option as part of Flexcel NX imaging, it uses the combination of digital data to build precise islands and spaces on the plate surface structures for optimum ink laydown, air flow, ink retention, and resisting of unwanted ink spread, on large image areas down to dots smaller than a human hair.

PureFlexo™ Printing is applied to the 2400 dpi one bitt TIFF file on any of the KODAK FLEXCEL NX imagers installed since 2008, PureFlexo is a licensed solution through the “Print Suite For Flexible Packaging”, that helps reduce unwanted ink spread on press, significantly reducing the print gain, while resisting common print defects like dirty print and TEV. This enables through greater press latitude the use of softer tapes and lower impression, with less press stops, without compromising quality or productivity on press.

During two years of development and testing PureFlexo was used in production on over 20,000 commercial jobs, before the global commercialization and launch in June 2021. PureFlexo is also not just for high line screen work, but also works well at lower line screens.