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What is Modern Flexo?


For flexographic printing to meet the current and future needs of brands, it needs to evolve to a standardized manufacturing process. Modern flexo delivers that evolution with multiple gains for printers. Find out how.

To respond to the ongoing focus brands have for more efficient, more sustainable packaging print, it’s essential that flexographic printing evolves from its craft-based ‘traditional’ capabilities to a standardized, sustainable manufacturing process.

When that standardized process is consistent, highly capable, driving efficiencies and sustainability improvements it’s what we call modern flexo. The lack of skills in the industry, combined with the pressures on printers to increase yields and implement sustainability improvements necessitates less ‘craft’, and more efficient, intervention-free printing that can cope with the full range of client demands.

Modern flexo describes print production where:

  • Flexo can achieve visual parity with gravure, offset and digital
  • Results are consistent and predictable enough to enable printing by numbers
  • Jobs are printed with as few colors as possible (more process, less spots)
  • Print conditions offer wide print latitude and facilitate clean printing
  • Outcomes can be optimized in more challenging environments, including — crucially — with more sustainable materials

The plate is the catalyst

While implementing modern flexo practices requires collaborative effort between the printer and their key suppliers — press, ink and anilox manufacturers and prepress providers have all innovated steadily over the last decade and a half — it is the flexo plate that sits at the center of the flexographic print process. The plate brings together substrates, inks, tape and anilox, influencing press capability and results, and is the key enabler of best-in-class flexo printing that is highly consistent in the press room.

Miraclon is a key enabler of Modern Flexo

Our proprietary FLEXCEL NX technology makes possible the ultimate control of ink transfer on which modern flexo is founded, and which is enabled by advanced plate surface patterning.

The surface of a FLEXCEL NX plate incorporates digitally imaged surface channels that enable ink to flow. The channels are just 4-6 microns wide — there are 6 channels in the width of a human hair — and can be modified for different applications and different combinations of presses, substrates, inks and aniloxes. Advanced plate surface patterning can only be achieved through Miraclon’s unique imaging and plate making technology that eliminates variables from the plate making process.

Printers that implement modern flexo benefit from increased uptime, less troubleshooting, reduced waste and more efficient job scheduling.”

Continuing innovation

Over the years successive iterations of our plate surface patterning technology have brought new levels of control in ink transfer, improving the quality, predictability and consistency of flexo printing. The scanning electron microscope (SEM) images in the illustration below clearly show the progression.

The most recent iteration —PureFlexo™ Printing — specifically tackles unwanted ink spread, which puts pressure on the production process, often leading to lower press speeds, more frequent unscheduled stoppages to clean plates, and a general reduction in press setup latitude. Wide print latitude is key to profitable production: less latitude, and the more likely that a small change in printing conditions will affect quality and result in reduced productivity, increased time and material waste.

A path to future growth

Printers that implement modern flexo benefit from increased uptime, less troubleshooting, reduced waste and more efficient job scheduling. They are positioned to commercialize more sustainable offerings and compete for work traditionally printed with other print processes.


See what the future could hold for your flexographic print – and the impact the modern flexo approach has – with us at drupa 2024.

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