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Colortek Inc. finds flat top solution with nyloflex® FTF plate

An integrated tradeshop providing advertising services to commercial, entertainment, catalog, publishers, retail and packaged goods customers, both nationally and internationally, Colortek Inc., offers marketing, creative, photography, production and print services from its 60,000+ square foot facility in Creve Couer, MO.

For quite some time, Colortek Inc. had been looking for a “Flat Top Dot” solution that would fit into its current workflow and take full advantage of the HD imager and vast array of screening that it offers to its customers. However, most of the offerings require a substantial capital investment – either a new imager or an expensive, enhanced exposure frame – and others require extra lamination steps and even licensing payments. The method of choice can be very confusing and complex, so it’s with great enthusiasm that Colortek evaluated The Easy Way technology by Flint Group Flexographic Products to achieve flat top dots on flexo printing plates.

Flint Group’s Easy Way technology employed in the nyloflex® FTF Digital plate is a new development that allows for the production of flat top plates by processing like any standard digital plate – without the need for additional investment, equipment, software, imaging upgrades, processing steps or consumable items. It is the first plate of its kind to offer inherent flat top properties together with a micro-textured surface designed especially for flexible packaging printing. The special texture of the surface eliminates the need for surface screening, resulting in a more simple process that offers improved ink transfer characteristics and a higher level of consistency from plate to plate.

With a specific project in mind for its largest customer, a flexible packaging printer, Colortek decided to evaluate the nyloflex® FTF Digital plate from Flint Group. They chose to run a test using their current plate and the nyloflex® FTF plate on a difficult design that they were executing for this customer. The design posed specific challenges in the solids and highlight areas, making it a true test for a new, improved printing plate technology. The results of the nyloflex® FTF plate proved to be even better than Colortek had expected.

Many of the designs Colortek produces demand that shadows and gradations fade to 0%. “We have seen a significant improvement in the performance of the enhanced highlights on the HD screens with the nyloflex® FTF plate,” claims John Kelly, Vice President Packaging, “Graphics such as shadows and gradations have finished smoother than ever before - the stability of the highlight dots is clean and uniform.” Kelly also reports that his customer is experiencing more consistency in his print quality with a smooth ink transfer and an increase in solid ink density (SID).

The increase in SID is attributed to the inherent micro-textured surface of the nyloflex® FTF plate, which provides more surface area than a smooth plate, and therefore more ink carrying capacity – a benefit of particular importance for flexible packaging printers using smooth substrates. The unique textured surface also provides a more homogeneous ink laydown on films and therefore alleviates the “trail edge void” issue that can occur when printing solids.

The outstanding test results prompted Colortek to switch this customer to the nyloflex® FTF plate on all new projects. Since the changeover, Colortek states that its customer has cut its make-ready time by more than half and reports that he is matching process color in most cases on the first pull. Due to the significant improvements in print quality, this customer made the decision to transition some of his legacy packages over to the nyloflex® FTF plate with excellent success.

“The support that we have received from Flint Group in setting up screening and curves has been outstanding, and the transition has been exceptionally smooth,” states Kelly, “I would say that Flint Group’s nyloflex® FTF plate has definitely been a game changer for Colortek, and we look forward to this continued success.”