How Can GTT Benefit Me Today – And Tomorrow?

Print more with less.  Turbocharge your presses and realize immediate benefits.  GTT outshines conventional anilox engravings in four key catagories important in commerical printing:

  • Standardization Slash your anilox inventory.  How?  Because one GTT cylinder often performs the task of two – or more – conventional anilox rolls.
  • Printability Whether solids, screens or linework, GTT can reduce or eliminate mottling, pinholing, haloing and dot gain while delivering stronger and denser solids, crisper and finer type and lines, and extended CMYK color gamut/Pantone™ simulation.
  • Downtime Imagine leaving your cylinders on-press job after job.  Imagine using just one ink station for combo jobs.  Imagine far fewer deep cleanings and slashing makeready time.
  • Profitability Would you like to run your press faster, use fewer rolls per job, spend less on ink and enjoy longer roll or sleeve life?  GTT can deliver just that!

The Rise of Pantone Simulation in Flexographic Printing

Recent 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 thís 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 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”.


Innovation versus Novelty: Know the Difference

Regardless of the industry, it seems every new product that hits the market these days is described as being innovative.  During drupa 2016 for example, nearly all exhibitors positioned their latest offerings as being the next great innovation in their space.  However, it is critically important to understand the difference between innovation and novelty and how that difference will impact your future growth. 

Novelty is simply an incremental change to an existing product designed to help marketers differentiate their products from the competition.  It’s the “neat” factor.  One of the best examples of novelty is toothpaste.  Back in the 1970’s, most toothpaste manufacturers had only one or two types of toothpaste.  But as the competitive landscape grew more crowded, manufacturers struggled to stand out.  As a result, toothpaste companies introduced new features into their products to increase consumer perceived value. Fluoride.  Tarter Control. Whitening.  Stripes.  The list goes on and on.  Each time a new product was released, there would be an improvement is sales.  But that improvement was temporary and only lasted until the next great product hit the shelves. The result?  Today, the average toothpaste manufacturer sells more than 30 variations of their products and comparable versions between companies all offer around the same quality at around the same price.  But for all this “innovation”, there is no information that suggests people brush their teeth more today than they did 40 years ago.  These companies didn’t create a shift in consumer behavior or shake the foundations of the dental health industry.  They simply commoditized their products.  They confused novelty for innovation.  

True innovation changes the way industries operate.  It forces companies to redefine their business models and conform to new standards.  When Apple introduced the iPhone, it supplanted all other cellular phone options on the market and set a new standard for consumer expectations.  As far as features and benefits go, it was as “neat” as you could get.  It was the first to have a touch screen and only one button.  But those things are not what makes Apple innovative.  In a rather short period of time, Apple completely disrupted not one but two well established industries.  Before the iPhone, the iPod and the introduction of iTunes fundamentally changed the way the music industry operated by changing consumer behavior.  Before iTunes, music was primarily distributed on albums and sold in stores. Today, consumers purchase music by the song digitally.  Before the iPhone, cellular service providers would dictate what features phones could have.  But Apple decided to design a great product and tell the service providers what features it would have.  Only one agreed to Apple’s terms, and AT&T signed an exclusive distribution contract in which, for the first time in history, the cellular phone manufacturer and not the service provider dictated most of the terms.  Apple makes great products, but the way they are brought to market and their impact on related industries is what makes them innovative.

During drupa 2016, Apex International is featuring a number of products, including the award-winning GTT anilox technology, that are best-in-class from a features and benefits prospective.  But these products are not what makes Apex International innovative.  The innovation comes from the applications and how they will change the way the printing industry operates.  For example, GTT’s contributions to optimized fixed palette, in combination with equally powerful offerings from companies like ESKO and DuPont, are on the cusp of redefining flexographic printing and will serve as the industry’s response to digital.  This idea captures the essence of the Innovator’s Choice and defines who we are, what we do and why we do it.  

For more information, check out our flexo solutions guide, visit our website or contact an Apex sales professional today.

Apex International drupa 2016 Review

With more than 260,000 visitors over the course of 11 days, drupa 2016 maintained its position as the world’s biggest and most important trade event for print and crossmedia solutions.  Total visitorship was down nearly 17.5% over drupa 2012 due in large part to the shortened schedule and companies opting to send fewer attendees in favor of more executives and key decision makers.  As a result, drupa 2016 is being considered more commerically lucarative than previous drupa events despite the short schedule and reduced attendance.  

Apex International’s focus on innovation and partnerships during drupa proved to be a strong message for the industry.  Anilox solutions for fixed palette applications drew large crowds and generated significant interest in Apex and our supplier partners, including ESKO and DuPont.  Apex was also proud to partner with nearly a dozen OEM exhibitors and share in their success.  

Apex International’s core values are consistent with the general themes for drupa 2016 that revolve around the idea that innovation and technology are changing the printing industry for the better.  We would like to thank the more than 1,100 visitors to our stand during the course of the show.  We are proud that our beliefs are shared by so many and we look forward to our curiosity continuing to drive innovation at Apex.

If you missed us at drupa, please request a free anilox calculator by using the button below.

10 Reasons Your Anilox Sleeve May Not Mount Properly

Perfectly constructed anilox rolls should mount and dismount without any issues.  They should slide and rotate easily on the mandrel.  However, if an anilox sleeve will not mount because the necessary air film cannot be established between the sleeve and the air mandrel, here are 10 tips to help you troubleshoot the issue:

Potential Issues with the Air Mandrel:

  1. Check the air pressure measured at the air cylinder.  This should typically be between 6 and 8 bar (87-116 psi).
  2. The air volume flow should never fall below 12 liters (0.42 cubic ft.) per second.
  3. Make sure the compressed air system and cylinder surfaces are free of moisture, oils, lubricants, inks and solvents.
  4. Check for blockages in the air outlet holes.  This should be routine as all air holes must be open in order to establish an air film between the anilox sleeve and air mandrel.
  5. Make sure the air mandrel diameter is within the original STORK tolerance (see drawing below).  
  6. Check if the air mandrel diameter in front of the the first air holes is within the original STORK tolerance and not damages (see drawing below).

Potential Issues with the Anilox Sleeve:

  1. Inspect the inner liner making sure it is clean and not damages as deep scratches can cause air pressure to fall.
  2. Ensure that the sides are not damaged and that the inner liner is intact.
  3. Check if the sleeve will mount more than a quarter of its total length without air pressure.  Doing so should not be possible.
  4. While placing an anilox sleeve onto the mandrel, wait a few seconds after passing the first set of activated air holes to continue mounting.  This will the inner liner enough time to expand.

Apex International sleeve technology is engineered to be perfectly constructed.  The result is the industries most stable sleeve with no vibrating or bouncing, precise TIR values and a perfectly straight and round construction.  To learn more about our sleeve technology or any of our products, please download our brochure.

Top Causes of Anilox Scoring and How to Prevent Them

A score line in an anilox roll is a groove that has run directly through the engraved surface.  The score shows a visible line in the printed or coated product and is irreversible. Once the surface is scored, the roll must be reconditioned or replaced. For these reasons, it is crucial to learn how to prevent scoring whenever possible. Below you will find an explanation on score lines, the different types and how to prevent them from occurring and keeping your print quality as high and consistent as possible.

3 types of score lines:

  • Cosmetic or Preliminary
  • Lightly Polished
  • Severe or deeply gouged



What Causes Score Lines?


Over Impression

Over impression can cause premature wear to the doctor blade and roll. Long Blade tip slivers can easily cause score lines: these are formed when the blade bends back causing wear on the side rather than the tip.  As the side of the blade wears through, the tip breaks away in the form of a long metal sliver.  Normal shavings from blade wear from “kiss impression” will not damage a roll.


Doctor Blade Tip Material & Settings

Are you using the same blade for whites or metallic inks as you do for conventional ink? Using incorrect blade tip and material for type of ink can have disastrous results and hardened blades significantly increase the chance of scoring.  The same can be said of replacing the blade on every anilox change.  A blade “seats” to a specific LPI and is not meant to be used again.  Blade forms to anilox and becomes a “Micro” saw.  Finally, try resetting the doctor blade chamber after installing new blades.  A worn blade is shorter than a new blade and if chamber does not reset, there will be excessive pressure.  

Try a nickel coated anti-scoring blade. Nickel is softer than steel and ceramic, many converters use this very successfully as it is more forgiving and can cover potential misgivings in the metering process. It will also last longer because of coating; cleaner doctoring because blade is stronger; resist corrosion better because the blade has a barrier coating.  And remember, always use higher quality blades. A low quality low cost blade can break down fast.

Helpful Tips:

  1. Coated blades are more forgiving than uncoated blades.
  2. The doctor blades should never extend past the ends of the seals, but should be flush and even with the bevels on the end seal.
  3. A coated blade will offer more “forgiveness” than an uncoated doctor blade and compensate for error
  4. Chattering blades vibrate and this action can act like a jack hammer to the ceramic and break cell walls
  5. If too soft, improper end seals will cause leakage and operator might adjust setting to compensate putting more pressure on anilox and stress on the blades. Do not set chamber to stop leaking.
  6. Correct placement of end seals allowing even contact with anilox and consistent transfer of the ink film to plat
  7. Shims break off or can become exposed to the anilox surface and cause scoring
  8. Ink resins can glue pigments, blade metal and other debris to the blade

Top Three Trends In Corrugated Board Manufacturing & Printing

Print Issues With LongCell

Doctor blade too small

Because of the LongCells, the doctor blade can be too small and will not cover the entire cell. As a result, the ink can flow back when the doctor blade passes the cell wall (1).

LongCell Versus 60° Hexagonal Cell

Support of the roll

With the 60º hexagonal cell, the dot is supported by all the cell walls. For the LongCell the dot is only partially supported. When the exact same screen count is used, it might be possible that 30-60% fewer cells are available to support the dots. This depends upon the Cell angle.

What Can Accora Glue Sets Do For Me?

Finally, accurate glue sets that deliver just the right amount of glue, job after job.  New metallurgy and precision manufacturing give you the competitive edge in corrugating.  Accora is built tough for longer roll life – and built smart to help save of glue costs.