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Welcome to  ‘Ask The Expert’.  This page is moderated by industry consultant, Steve Wilkinson.  This page features the answers to your questions. Our visitors can also post comments to these questions/answers as well.  You can learn more about Steve’s background and our ‘Ask The Expert’ page by Clicking Here.

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April 19, 2013

We have recently installed a Flexo press but my prepress department is telling me I cannot use our existing gravure separations to make Flexo plates from. Why not?

This is a common dilemma for many companies and designers alike wanting to move into the flexographic field.  There is no doubt that Flexo has come a long way and is capable of producing some very high quality print but it does have certain limitations that have to be taken into account at the design and color separation stage.

Unlike gravure Flexo does have some dot gain that can create problems in creating soft gradients, vignettes and it does have a limit to the size of dot it can hold. This means that an allowance has to be built into the screening of artwork separations for a Flexo plate to be able to hold it up and to allow for the dot gain that is inevitable even with the best press and operator.

Registration is another challenge, and inevitably means more trapping is needed than for the same gravure printed image. All this said, Flexo’s ability to print on any substrate, its speed of interchangeability of plates and variety of ink systems, all at an acceptable price even with short runs, is what I am sure led you to add Flexo to your  product offering.

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April 3, 2013

How essential is daily/weekly cleaning of a press and how much does it really affect our bottom line?

It is this sort of question that probably answers why I see so many presses in such a run down and poorly functional condition. If you are running your equipment continuously, as most companies do, the gradual build-up of ink, paper dust, grease and other contaminates will eventually overwhelm most key components on your press such as gears, bearings, drive shafts, belts, and pulleys. The problem is this can take a while and causes the operator to have to make daily adjusts to the operation of your machine. This will lead to slower speeds, more make ready, reduced print quality and higher waste, all of which will affect your bottom line.

It is vital to make time each day and every week for proper maintenance and cleaning of your equipment and its key components. It is the responsibility of management to understand that good housekeeping practice is essential to maintaining a consistly profitable business and is not something that can be overlooked or ignored. Sooner or later it will, as they say, “stop the press” and instead of a few minutes or hours to make a repair it could take several hours or even days if the fatigue and wear is serious enough. So, how much does it affect your bottom line? In every way and then some!

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