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Look around youon store shelves, in your homeand youre certain to see material thats been printed by exography.

Though often taken for granted, packaging is everywhere, and so, too, is exography; it prints candy wrappers, shopping bags, corrugated boxes, milk cartons, gift wrap, wallpaper, and many other goods and packages. Printing on packaging is essential to businesses around the world. In fact, graphics on packages provide some of the most important advertising for the products themselves. Flexographys soft compressible plates, fast-drying inks, and its simple, efcient inking system make it possible for manufacturers to reproduce high-quality graphics on a wide variety of surfaces. Over the last decade, the use of the exographic printing process has been growing approximately eight percent a year, a rate unparalleled by any other printing technology. Although some of this growth can be attributed to a greater need for packaging, flexography is increasingly used in markets traditionally served by gravure and offset lithography. Since advances in technology have signicantly improved exographys ability to print accurate type, color, and halftone images, manufacturers and print buyers are recognizing exography as a high-quality, economical alternative to gravure and lithographic printing. This booklet describes the exographic printing process from start to finish, including design, color, and prepress considerations. Understanding the requirements of exography helps ensure that designs will look their best, and will aid in the communication between print buyers, in-house prepress departments, service bureaus, and printers.

2 Flexographic Markets 4 Traditional Printing Processes 6 Flexographic Technology 8 Flexographic Plates 9 Plate Elongation & Distortion 10 Substrates 11 Color Capabilities 12 Trapping 13 Type 14 Color Management 15 Dot Gain 16 Halftones & Screening 18 Step-and-Repeat & Die-Cutting 19 Prepress Output 20 Proong 21 Prepress Checklist & The Press Check 22 Glossary & Index
The terms printed in red throughout this guide can also be found in the glossary.


Flexographic Markets

The use of exography is growing in popularity in todays printing markets, where short run, low-cost, and high-quality are crucial to success. A look at
the development of exography reveals a printing technology and culture that has been willing and capable of change in response to the needs of the packaging industry. An evolutionary process of improvements in materials and equipment, rather than a single discovery, has led to flexography as it is known today. The rst use of soft compressible plates can be traced back to the late 1880s, when letterpress printers needed to nd a way to print kraft paper grocery bags and corrugated boxes. The materials were rough in texture, and did not respond well to the ink transfer pressure of hard letterpress plates. To solve the problem, printers began creating plates from rubber, rather than from wood or lead. This quickly became the dominant method for printing corrugated, and also grew steadily in the bag printing industry. In 1914, the Interstate Commerce Commission approved the corrugated box as a shipping container, a decision that began a new growth period for exography.
Clear Packaging

Market Categories
The use of the exographic process has continued to grow in all packaging markets, including those that have traditionally used gravure and lithographic methods.

By far the largest market for exography, corrugated is printed on sheet-fed presses. Fast drying water-based inks, the soft, conforming plate, and light impression pressure make exography well suited for printing corrugated boxes in large quantities.

Flexible Packaging
Most exible packaging uses non-absorbent polymer lm, including bread bags, snack food bags, candy wrappers, pouches, and textile wrap.

Gift Wrap and Wallpaper

A continuous repeat allows the printing of products such as wallpaper and gift wrap. Design rolls, which do not have a plate seam, are used to print a continuous background color.

Folding Cartons
Although folding cartons, including cereal, detergent, and cosmetic boxes, are printed by both the lithographic and gravure processes, exography has recently increased its market share due to improved quality.

In the early-to-mid 1920s, exographic printers responded quickly to the introduction of cellophane as a clear packaging material. White inks were developed, drying systems were improved for cellophanes non-absorbent surface, and press tension systems were rened to handle its caliper and weight. Approximately ten years later, polyethylene was introduced, and went on to become the most commonly used material for clear, exible packaging.

Rigid Paper Boxes

Rigid paper boxes, or pre-formed boxes are used for bakery products, shoes, and neckties.

Flexography is used to print many kinds of envelopes, including those for direct mail, sweepstakes, general mailing, and overnight delivery. The security printing on the inside of many envelopes is often applied by exography.

Origins of the Name

Paper Grocery Bags

The paper bag is the original exographic product. In the late 1800s exography evolved from the need to apply graphics to plain brown grocery sacks. The evolution continues today.

Plastic Carrier Bags

Flexography can add advertising and graphics to plastic bags that are carried by customers in stores.

Originally, exography was known as aniline printing, a name taken from the aniline dyes used as colorants for the ink. Aniline dyes, however, were considered toxic and eventually banned for use on food packaging. New inks were developed as replacements, but the name remained until 1951, when Franklin Moss, a leader in package printing, started a campaign to change it. He asked aniline printers and suppliers for suggestions, receiving over two hundred. Of those, three nalists were selected: permatone process, rotopake process, and exography. After a vote, the process came to be known as exography in 1952. In the United States, the Clean Air Act of 1980 began a development in exography toward environmentally friendly printing using low-solvent and no-solvent inks. Today, exography is often chosen because of the ability to print with clean water based or solventless ultraviolet inks. Today the process continues to adapt. As the technology is rened, quality continues to increase, making exography the leader in packaging graphics applications.

Milk Cartons
Approximately 90% of all milk cartons are printed using exography.

In the United States alone there are between 35 and 40 newspapers using the exographic printing process for the entire paper. Many newspapers use exography to print the Sunday comics.

Tags and Labels

The fast drying uid inks used by exographers allow inline die cutting immediately after printing. The quality of many exographic labels is equal to or better than that offered by lithography or gravure.

Pre-printed Linerboard
Pre-printing linerboard allows high-quality graphics to be placed on corrugated containers.

Traditional Printing Processes

The three most widely used printing processes in use today are offset lithography, gravure, and exography. Printing presses
for each method differ primarily in design of the image carrier or printing plate, the ink, and the ink delivery system to the printing plate.
Offset Lithography

Offset Lithography

Widely used in the publication industry, offset lithography presses print magazines, catalogs, and daily newspapers, as well as annual reports, advertising, and art reproduction. Offset lithography can also print paper-based packaging, such as cartons, labels, and bags. Offset lithography is a planographic process, meaning that the printing plate holds both the image and non-image areas on one at surface or plane. On most offset presses, image areas on the plate are chemically treated to attract the lithographic paste ink, while a fountain solution or ink repellent chemical treatment protects non-image areas from inking. From the plate, the image is rst transferred to a blanket (hence the term offset), and then to the paper or other material, known as the substrate. To dry, most lithographic inks require a certain period of time or an application of heat.



The gravure method, sometimes known as roto-gravure, is used on a wide variety of substrates, including vinyl ooring, woodgrain desktops, and paneling. It is the second most often used process in Europe and the Far East, and the third in the United States. Gravure is used to print high-volume products such as packaging, magazines and the advertising inserts found in newspapers. In addition, offset versions of gravure presses are used to print labels or logos

Traditional Printing Processes

Offset Lithography Gravure Flexography

on medicine capsules and the M on M&M candy. Gravure is an intaglio process, in which the image area is recessed below the level of the non-image areas. The image is etched or engraved in a cell format onto a copper plate or copper-plated cylinder. By varying the size and depth of each cell, a printer using a gravure press can vary tones. Often, after the copper is etched or engraved, the plate or cylinder is plated with chrome to add durability and increase its run-length. A fast drying ink lls the recessed cells, a thin metal strip called a doctor blade clears the non-image area of ink, and the image is transferred directly to the substrate under heavy pressure from a rubber covered impression cylinder.

Typical Uses

Magazines, newspapers, advertising pieces, annual reports, cereal boxes, bags, tags & labels

Magazines & catalogs, Sunday supplements, candy wrappers, cereal boxes, snack food bags, vinyl ooring

Newspapers, phone directories, corrugated containers, bread bags, cereal boxes, milk cartons, gift wrap Coated & uncoated papers, newsprint, paperboard, corrugated board, foil, metallized paper, polyethylene vinyl, polypropylene, cellophane, polystyrene Light


Coated & uncoated papers, newsprint, some polymer packaging lms

Coated & uncoated papers, newsprint, paperboard, foil, metallized paper, polyethylene vinyl, polypropylene, cellophane, polystyrene

Impression Pressure Plate RunLength

Moderate to heavy


300,000 to 400,000 maximum impressions

6 to 7 million impressions average; longer with rechromed cylinder 2" to 144"

1 to 2 million impressions average

Press Width

Sheet-fed: to 60" Web: 11" to 60"

Narrow web: 6" to 24" Wide web: 24" to 90" 120" for corrugated presses Variable repeat length

Repeat Length Press Speed (feet per minute)

Standard format with limited repeat length Product dependent: Magazines: 2,500 fpm Sheet fed: 12,000 impressions per hour

Innitely variable repeat length Product dependent: Magazines: 3,000 fpm Bread bags: 500-900 fpm Vinyl ooring: 50 fpm

Product dependent: Toilet tissue: 3,000 fpm Bread bags: 500-900 fpm Pressure sensitive labels: 100-300 fpm

Because its soft compressible plate conforms to uneven surfaces, exography is often used for printing on packaging materials, such as corrugated and paperboard. The fast-drying uid inks used in exography are ideal for such materials as polyethylene lms, used for plastic grocery bags. Flexographic presses are often part of a manufacturing process, in which packaging is printed, folded, shaped, and die-cut. Flexography is characterized as a relief process. The image areas on the compressible plate are raised above the surrounding non-image areas. An ink metering cylinder called an anilox roll applies ink to the raised areas. The plate is then moved into light contact with the substrate to transfer the image. The minimal pressure during image transfer allows printing on material, such as corrugated board, that may be adversely affected by impression pressure.


Paste ink Oil & soy based Heat set & non-heat set Wet trapping

Fast drying uid ink Solvent & water-based Dry trapping

Fast drying uid ink Solvent & water-based UV curable Dry trapping

Screen Ruling

65-300 lpi Most common: 133-150 lpi 3-5%

120-300 lpi Most common: 150 lpi 3%

45-150 lpi Most common: 100-133 lpi 8-12%

Minimum Printed Highlight Dot Dot Gain

Midtones: 20%

Midtones: 23-26%

Midtones: 20-25%

Flexographic Technology

Flexographic printing units in use today consist of three basic types: the two roll unit, the two roll
unit with a doctor blade, and the dual doctor ink chamber system. Two roll units are usually found on older flexographic presses, and on narrow web presses. Narrow web presses equipped for process colors often use the two roll unit with a doctor blade, and more modern wide web presses use the dual doctor ink chamber system. Each type of exographic press uses an anilox roll. The surface of every anilox roll is engraved with a pattern of tiny cells, so small they can only be seen under magnication. The size and number of these cells determine how much ink will be delivered to the image areas of the plate, and ultimately to the substrate. An anilox roll is either copper engraved and then chrome-plated, or ceramic coated steel with a laser engraved cell surface. Anilox rolls are carefully selected for specic types of printing, substrates, and customer requirements. Often the exographic printer will perform test runs to determine the ideal anilox for producing the desired ink distribution for halftones, spot color, and solids. The design of the exographic printing unit enables press manufacturers to build presses in any one of three congurations: the stack press, the inline press (including corrugated presses), and the common impression cylinder press. Each configuration can be equipped with any of the basic printing units, depending upon the needs of the exographic printer.

Flexographic Ink Delivery System

Two Roll with Doctor Blade

On a two-roll exographic printing unit, the rubber covered fountain roll rotates in a uid ink bath, dragging ink from the pan to cells of the anilox roll. The soft rubber fountain roll is held in tight contact with the anilox roll. As the anilox rotates past the nip point, the fountain roll wipes excess ink from non-cell areas. Once past the nip point, each cell is lled with ink, and a measured, repeatable amount of ink is available to the printing plate. The metered anilox roll is moved into light kiss contact with the image areas of the plate, and the plate cylinder is moved into kiss contact with the substrate to transfer the image. The steel impression cylinder supports the substrate. When a thin metal or polyethylene doctor blade is used with a two-roll unit, the nip point between the fountain and the anilox roll is opened to allow ink to ood the anilox and ll the cells. The doctor blade comes into contact with the anilox to clear excess ink from non-cell areas. With a dual doctor ink chamber, the fountain roll and inking pan can be eliminated; ink is delivered directly to the anilox through an enclosed chamber.

Dual Doctor Ink Chamber System

Characteristics of Anilox Rolls

Cell Per Inch Range: 140 to 1200 CPI. As cell count increases, ink delivered to plate (CPI) decreases. As line screen resolution increases, CPI should also increase. Cell Volume Range: 1.8 to 17 BCM (Billion Cubic Microns per square inch of cells). As CPI increases, cell volume decreases. Cell Angle Typical anilox cell angles are 30, 45, and 60. A 60 angle allows for more complete ink transfer, and is the preferred cell angle. The screen angle of the printing plate and the cell angle can combine to cause a moir pattern, even with one color halftones. Moir is avoided by angling separation screens. Substrate corrugated board corrugated board polyethylene bags Cells Per Inch 200-280 360-400 600-900 Cell Volume 7-8.5 BCM 4.0-5.5 BCM 1.8-2.0 BCM

Application line art halftones at 65 lpi 4/c halftones at 133 lpi

Press Congurations
Common Impression Cylinder (CIC) Press
4-8 color units Limited to one-sided printing Ideal press for hairline register at high speeds on stretchable lms Longer make-ready times required because printing units are more difcult to access

Stack Press
1-8 color units Some presses can print on both sides Traps should be no less than 1/64" for thin lms Often used inline with other converting operations such as lamination, rotary and atbed die cutting, and sideseal bag converting.

Inline Press
Up to 12 color units Can print two sides with the aid of a turn-bar Used for printing thick substrates such as paperboard Not recommended for printing thin packaging lm Often used inline with other converting operations such as lamination, rotary and atbed die cutting, and sideseal bag converting.

Corrugated Press
Same conguration as the inline press Sheet-fed; widths up to 120" Usually no more than 4 colors Limited to one-sided printing Less accurate registration capabilities

Repeat Length
Plate cylinders with different diameters can be mounted on many exographic presses, allowing for variable repeat lengths. Printing a roll of packaging, such as gift wrap, uses a continuous repeat, where the same set of images is repeated many times on a continuous stream of substrate. To avoid the plate seam, images may require nesting, an arrangement that creates a staggered effect. Staggering images gives the appearance that the design is continuous, no matter where the substrate is cut.

Flexographic Plates

Printing plates used on modern flexographic presses are produced

in three different ways: molding rubber, exposing and processing photopolymer, and imaging with lasers. While molded rubber plates have been used since the 1930s, photopolymer plates, introduced in the 1970s, generally provide higher resolution and more accurate color registration. Direct-to-plate laser imaging, called ablating, is available for both materials. Selection of a particular type of plate depends on the press, the plate cylinder inventory, and the customers requirements, such as resolution, registration, and cost.
Molded Rubber

Plate Types
Molded Rubber
Molded rubber plates shrink when they are removed from the molding press. Plate lms should be adjusted to compensate for shrinkage, which is typically 1.5%-2.0% in the direction of the rubber grain, and .5%-1% across it. Exact shrinkage amounts should be communicated between production artists and platemakers. Line screening is limited to 120 lpi. Registration can be more difcult than with photopolymer plates. Nesting is required for the appearance of continuous repeat. It is difcult to mold accurate rubber plates larger than 24" X 36". Larger designs must be placed on multiple plates for each color.

Molded rubber plates are created in a multistep process that involves exposing and etching a magnesium plate, making a mold, and then placing the image on the rubber plate using a molding press.

Photopolymer Plates
Line screening is at least 150 lpi and can be as high as 200 lpi. Nesting is required for the appearance of continuous repeat. Positioning and register devices on most modern exographic presses are designed for one-piece photopolymer plates. Direct-to-plate laser imaging is available.

Light-sensitive photopolymer is supplied in either solid sheets or in a thick liquid state. The image area of the plate is exposed through a lm negative. Liquid photopolymer, about the consistency of honey, solidies when exposed to ultraviolet light. After exposure, the nonimage area is removed by processing.
Laser Ablated Plates

Some platemaking machines can transfer images directly from the computer to the plate, a process known as directto-plate that avoids the production of lm. Some photopolymer plates can be directly imaged by lasers and then conventionally processed. A design roll is a cylinder covered with rubber or photopolymer and molded or imaged by a laser. Design rolls can provide a true continuous repeat with a continuous background color. Laser ablated plates must be nested to hide the plate seam for the appearance of continuous repeat.

Laser Ablated Plates and Design Rolls

Line screening is limited to 100 lpi for tone reproduction, but can be 200 -300 lpi for tints. Film is not required. Design rolls can provide a true continuous repeat with a continuous background color. Plates or design rolls imaged directly on the cylinder do not require compensation for plate elongation. Laser ablating is available for both rubber and photopolymer.

Plate Elongation
As the soft plate wraps around the cylinder, it can elongate, stretching images, halftones, and text across the curve dimension. Without compensation for plate elongation, images will not print as designed. In the example, if no compensation is applied, the sun image is printed as an oval and the vertical lines on each side are lengthened.

When designing images for exographic printing, it is important to understand the effects of plate elongation. Because
flexographic plates are made with soft material, they tend to stretch when mounted on the plate cylinder, sometimes distorting images and text. A circle, for example, may be stretched to look more like an oval. Fortunately, special exographic software can compensate for plate elongation by slightly distorting images. Distortion is usually performed within the exographic software application or at the RIP stage before the lm is imaged. The amount of distortion depends on the thickness of the plate and the mounting tape used to fasten it, and on the circumference of the cylinder (the repeat length). In general, thicker plates and shorter repeat lengths increase the elongation. To be sure that images will be printed with the correct size and shape, the design should be output to lm after plate thickness has been determined and the proper distortion factor has been applied. Improperly calculated distortion may also cause misregistration. Direct-to-plate imaging, which is becoming more widely available, avoids the need for distortion if the imaging is applied directly on a design roll, or on a plate already mounted on the cylinder. Because the image is applied to a curved surface, no stretching occurs.

Before plate mounting Plate Plate centerline

Expected result

Plate elongation occurs around the cylinder

After plate mounting Spreading Stretching

Printed piece without compensation for elongation

Special exographic software can compensate for plate elongation by adding distortion, using a basic formula, as shown in the following example.

x 2(T)
RL 3.1416 x 2(1.27") 18.8"

= 3.1416 RL = 18.8"; repeat length of plate cylinder T = 1.27"; plate thickness with mounting tape


For every linear inch of plate used around the cylinder or curve direction, the images will increase at the rate of 0.0424".

Design measures 12" in the curve direction. Calculate plate elongation: 12" x 0.0424" = 5.09" 12"


The image is distorted to compensate for plate elongation. Film is output to 11.491" (12" 5.09") or 95.7% in the curve direction, and 100% in the non-curve direction.

12" Final design prints correctly since plate elongation has been compensated for. 12"

Plate Elongation & Distortion



Flexography is ideal for printing packaging materials because the soft plates can transfer ink to many
different kinds of substratesanything from corrugated board to candy wrappers. The quality of a printed product is determined not only by the type of plate, but also by the substrate itself. Different substrates allow varying degrees of ink absorption, gloss, brightness, and color denition. The chart on this page lists the characteristics of some common substrates.

Substrate Characteristics
Paper/ Paperboard Polymer Films Multilayered/ Laminations

kraft linerboard: corrugated, for boxes coated kraft: corrugated, for boxes solid bleached sulfate (SBS): folding cartons recycled paperboard: folding cartons coated paper: labels, gift wrap uncoated freesheet paper: paperback books

polyethylene (PE): dry cleaner bags, bakery, textile bags polypropylene (PP): snack packages, candy wrappers, cookie packaging labels polyvinyl chloride: vinyl lms, labels, wall coverings

metallized papers: gift wraps metallized lm: snack food bags polyethylene coated solid bleached sulfate: milk cartons

Dependent upon substrate material; substrate color will signicantly inuence ink. White, brown kraft, a variety of colored papers. Clear, white or colored. Determined by the top-most layer.

The strength of white or color of a substrate. Increases with bleached & coated papers. Decreases with greater amounts of recycled ber. Optical brighteners can be added. Determined by the opacity of white lm. Clear lms require the use of a white plate. Determined by the top most layer. Foil & metallized surfaces require the use of a white plate.

Amount of light transmitted through the substrate. A lower opacity allows more light to pass through. Thin, lightweight papers have lower opacity & are more likely to have ink show through. Low for thin, lightweight papers, which are more likely to let ink show through on reverse side. Higher with multiple layers of material.

Smoother substrates allow higher lpi; rough, irregular surfaces require much lower lpi. Newsprint, corrugated linerboard & paperboard are relatively rough; calendered & coated papers smoothest. Smooth printing surfaces; ink adhesion is sometimes a problem. Determined by the top-most layer.

Determines how ink dries and spreads. Low absorption produces drying at the surface, increasing color saturation and decreasing dot gain. Higher absorption increases dot gain. Newsprint, corrugated linerboard & paperboard are very absorbent, calendered; coated papers are less absorbent & exhibit high ink hold-out. Non-absorbent, with no dot gain. Usually low, but determined by the substrate used as a printing surface.

Reective quality of the substrate. Gloss can be increased with varnish or lamination and can be decreased with matte or low-gloss nishes. Calendered & coated papers are high gloss; corrugated linerboard, newsprint & paperboard are low gloss. High for most lms, but lms can be produced with a matte nish. Determined by the top-most layer.

Thickness of a substrate, as measured by a micrometer. Range: .002" to .010"; paperboard .010". Thin papers more consistent in caliper; paperboard more inconsistent. Ranges from .00065" to .006". Thin lms may stretch; inconsistency in caliper can cause misregistration and wrinkling. Increases as layers are added. Thin layers may be laminated together to obtain the required thickness.


Multicolor Options
In exography, opaque spot colors are printed in the order of lightest to darkest. Process color inks are made from transparent pigments and can be applied in any sequence. For transparent substrates, white ink is printed first to provide a background for colors.

Because the appeal of packaging is significantly enhanced by color, exographic presses commonly offer six and eight colors, and even as many as twelve for limited applications. Designers can choose from a number of different combinations, including multiple spot colors and HiFi printing, which is a method of increasing the color gamut by printing six or seven process colors. Most flexographic inks consist of opaque or semi-opaque pigments. To ensure proper ink coverage, the spot colors are usually printed from lightest to darkest. Process color inks are made from transparent pigments and can be applied in any sequence. Transparent substrates, such as polypropylene, require a white backup plate provided by a choke plate, as a background for colors; otherwise, colors would appear at and translucent. Another technique used for applying ink to transparent substrates is reverse-side printing. The image is laterally reversed, and colors are printed instead from darkest to lightest; the packaging is then displayed from the non-ink side of the substrate. This provides a scratch proof surface to the ink layer, and a glossy nish. In some cases, a water-based ink is used for reverse-side printing lamination. Paper or styrofoam plates are often decorated by laminating a reverse-side printed lm layer to the plate. Corrugated containers have historically been only one color on brown kraft paper linerboard, but more designers are taking advantage of multiple spot and four-color process capabilities. In some cases, printing is done directly on a white or clay coated corrugated linerboard, avoiding the costly practice of applying labels to achieve high quality graphics.

Reverse-Side Printing
An exception to the rule of lightest to darkest printing occurs when a spot color or line art job calls for reverse-side printing, sometimes called back printing. Styrofoam products are often decorated by laminating a reverse-side printed lm. Some snack food packaging is also done this way.

White Plate
In order to place colors on a transparent substrate, a solid white ink is printed rst to create a reective background that improves the color intensity. The colored inks are then printed on top of the white background.

Color Capabilities


Trapping is a technique of overlapping colors to avoid unsightly gaps created by misregistration.

Small variations in the placement of color, called misregistration, can be caused by substrate handling and tension problems on the press, irregular plate elongation from one color to the next, inaccuracies in plate mounting, plate bounce, and limited register capabilities, especially with molded rubber plates. A test run, called a ngerprinting analysis, can determine the registration tolerances. When designing packaging for exographic printing, it is best to avoid the requirement for tight registration, to design images with dominant colors printed on top of lighter ones, and to avoid trapping on gradations. Typically, a designer will build traps into the le if the design is simple, using options in publication or illustration software; more complicated designs require the help of service bureaus and special trapping software programs, such as TrapwiseTM from Luminous Corporation or DK&A Island TrapperTM. Trap widths on narrow web presses should be set at a minimum of 0.005"; some presses require as much as 1/32" (0.031"), which is large compared to average traps of 0.002" - 0.005" for offset lithography. A typical trap width for polyethylene printed on a wide web press is 1/72" (0.014"), though if an objectionable dark trap line is created, the width may need to be cut in half. Trapping for linerboard or corrugated cardboard may require a trap width of 1/64" to 1/8".

Choking and Spreading

Spread lighter color

Choke lighter color

Traps are created by spreading or choking graphic elements, depending on adjacent colors. When a lighter element appears against a darker background, the lighter color is spread into the darker color, slightly increasing the size of the graphic element. When a darker element appears against a lighter background, the knockout is choked by slightly lling it with the lighter color. Both methods create a small overlap of ink colors, called the trap width. This width depends on the thickness and size of type, the adjacent colors, and the registration capabilities of the press. Script, serif fonts, or small type can be spread or choked only small amounts before the shapes are compromised. In general, light and dark colors allow for greater trap widths than colors that are similar.

Overprints and Traps

Trap affecting colors


Printing inks on top of each other is called overprinting. In exography, one ink can be printed on another only after the rst has been completely dried or cured. For this reason, exographic presses use dry trapping, where the printer must allow for drying. For substrates like clay-coated liner, or non-absorbent packaging such as polymer lm, drying time can be a problem. Overprinting a second color when the rst is not dry creates an unattractive blotchy effect (often called nailheads), especially on large solids. Excessive trapping can cause such problems and can slow down the printing process.


Type Weight
In exography, the soft plate compresses in the printing nip, causing the uid ink to ow slightly outward from the image area. Thus the weight of type may appear to increase, and reverse type may ll-in. Over-impression Substrate Deforming plate

In exography, printing consistently well-defined type is complicated by the soft plate, irregular substrate surface, and
the uid ink. Ink tends to spread outward, sometimes obscuring the denition of small point sizes or the fine detail of certain letter shapes. Reverse type, which uses the substrate or a background color to dene the letter, tends to get lled in. To help compensate for the typographic weight gain, it is possible to use the trapping techniques of spreading on positive type and choking on reverse type. Software programs, such as MacroMedia FreeHandTM and Adobe IllustratorTM, let the designer adjust the thickness of type. Some compensation can be done by choosing either a lighter or bolder face. For example, if medium positive type is desired, use a lighter weight face; if a medium reverse type is desired, specify a bold face. When possible, sans-serif fonts should be used. In general, larger point sizes produce more consistent type. Letterspacing must also be considered. Letters squeezed together for a denser appearance with offset lithography may merge together unacceptably in exography. Ideal letterspacing keeps letters close enough together so that they lend support to each other while under the pressure of the printing nip, but separated enough to avoid merging.

Ink spreading



Typographic Guidelines
4 point minimum positive san serif type for narrow web presses

6 point minimum positive san serif type for wide web presses

6 point minimum reverse type for narrow web presses

9 point minimum reverse type for wide web presses

8 point minimum positive serif type for wide web presses

Kerning may cause squeezing across cylinder, avoid tight linespacing Kerning may cause squeezing across cylinder, avoid tight linespacing
Letterspacing and/or linespacing may increase slightly from plate elongation.



All positive text should be printed in a single color if possible PMS 407 All positive text should be printed in a single color if possible 6m 8.5y 27.5k
Avoid placing ne type on the same color plate with line work and solid printing areas.

Made in the U.S.A.

47c 94m 15y 5k

47c 94m 15y 5k

Avoid reversing type out of two or more colors unless a dominant color outline is used.

Specify type accurately to the service bureau or prepress department.


Color Management

The wide variety of substrates, lack of standard ink hues, and unique dot gain characteristics
all contribute to the difculty of communicating and reproducing color by the exographic process. Color Management Systems (CMS), such as Agfas ColorTune 3.0 are software systems used to ensure color consistency among different input and output devices so that printed results match originals. The use of these systems aid in the color communication process by correlating colors on computer monitors and proofing devices with the actual or expected color results from the printing press. Because a color monitor can produce a much wider gamut of colors than the inks on a printing press, the designer needs to know the range of printable colors available on the computer. To find this range, a color specialist can run a CMS test on the exographic printing press under controlled conditions, using the same ink, plates, mounting tape, and anilox rolls required for the actual production run. Since each substrate affects color in a different way, a new test needs to be run for each new type of material. The results of the test are entered into the CMS software, which sets up calibration tables and builds press proles. Digital cameras, scanners, monitors, and proong devices are all adjusted by the CMS, based on the colors printed by the individual press. Input devices such as cameras and scanners, and prepress output devices including monitors and proong systems are adjusted according to the predicted outcome on press.

Test Targets
High total ink amount to check density Saturated colors with no black Saturated colors with 20% black

1 2 3 A B C D E

1 2 3

A B C D E F 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

A B C D E F 1 2 3 4 G H I J K L M N


CMYK density wedges to check dot gain Solid CMY patches

Neutral greys printed with CMY (and K in some cases) to check grey balance

Color Management Systems build proles by analyzing standard color data from test targets. The IT8 series of test targets can be used to calibrate prepress input devices (such as scanners), and output devices (such as proong devices), monitors, and the press itself. The IT8 7/1, IT8 7/2, and the IT8 7/3 (shown above) test targets all contain the same standard color information, but each uses a different format. IT8 7/1 is a reective color test target input to calibrate scanners for reective art in a color management system. IT8 7/2 is a transparency of the same format as IT8 7/1, but used to calibrate scanners for reading transparencies, rather than reective art. IT8 7/3 is a digital le of the same format used to calibrate imagesetters. To build a press prole, the imagesetter is calibrated and the IT8 7/3 le is output to lm. Plates are made and mounted, and the IT8 7/3 is then printed under the actual production conditions. Printed samples are measured for density, dot gain, and colorimetric values, and the resulting data is entered into the color management system. CMS software then recalibrates monitors, digital proong devices, and imagesetters to correlate the output at each of these devices with the expected output from the actual press run. There are several color measurement tools used by exographers to measure printed samples. Used primarily in the press room, the reection densitometer can only truly measure reectance. It is used by the exographer to measure solid ink density for process color printing. The colorimeter, important because it assigns numerical values to all colors in the gamut, measures hues printed as either spot colors or screen tint combinations of CYMK. The spectrophotometer is most useful for ngerprinting specic hues of CYMK and base colors used for ink mixing.


3 4

5 6

Dot Gain in Flexography

Impression Pressure
Even though ink is transferred under relatively light pressure in the printing nip, the soft exographic plate deforms slightly and compresses during image transfer. This causes ink to spread, increasing dot gain.

All printing processes are subject to the unavoidable occurrence known as dot gain. As dots
are transferred from lm to plate, they tend to grow in size during light exposure. When an ink dot is transferred from the plate to the substrate, it can increase in size once again as the ink spreads during absorption. A dot that began as 50% on lm can grow to 51% on the plate, and eventually print on a exographic press as a 65% or greater dot. The uid ink and compressible plates used in flexography tend to increase dot gain, but it varies according to the type of press and the substrate. Smooth non-absorbent lms and coated papers will have less dot gain than absorbent and irregular surfaces, such as uncoated papers, newsprint and corrugated liner board. Dot gain, however, is often consistent and predictable. Image or color separation software can adjust dots based on measurements supplied by the printer. Typically, the printer performs a ngerprinting analysis, which provides dot gain information to the color separator or desktop designer. The IT8 chart on page 14 shows an example of a test target used for a press fingerprint. By printing such a target under controlled conditions, dots can be adjusted in the color separation lms. In addition, calibration packages built into raster image processors (RIPs), such as Agfa Calibrator, can also make adjustments.

Plate Durometer
Because harder plates do not compress as much as softer plates, they produce less dot gain. Softer plates, however, transfer solid images more completely. Dot gain can be minimized by using a thin (0.002"-0.005") capping layer surface with a higher durometer than the supporting plate material. Dot gain can also be reduced by mounting the plate with compressible tape or a blanket that absorbs pressure.

An instrument called a Shore A scale measures plate hardness, which is called durometer. The image on the left shows the scale measuring a soft plate; on the right it measures a harder plate.

A higher viscosity ink will not spread as quickly as one with lower viscosity. The spreading, or ow-out, of a low viscosity exographic ink occurs as it is transferred to the substrate and before it dries, contributing to dot gain. By comparison, lithographic ink is a thicker, paste consistency, and is not prone to excessive ow-out.


The printing surface or finish of a substrate also influences dot gain. When ink is applied to smooth non-absorbent lms and coated papers it tends to spread very little, preserving the dot shape. With more absorbent and irregular printing surfaces, such as uncoated paper, newsprint, and corrugated liner board, the paper bers act as a wick, absorbing the uid ink and causing it to spread beyond the dot shape and pattern.

Dot Gain

Halftones & Screening

Throughout its history, exography has been printing quality line art and spot colors on a wide variety of substrates. However, it is the recently improved capability of high-quality, economical four-color process printing that has given exography an edge over other processes for packaging applications.
The Halftone Dot

Halftone Dot Shape

Square dots at 50% Stochastic dots at 20%

Symetrical round dots at 65%

In exography, the shape of the halftone dot used to reproduce a continuous tone image can signicantly affect the density of the image. Halftone dots can be generated in a number of shapes, including square, elliptical, octagonal, and both symmetrical and asymmetrical dots. At 50% coverage, for example, square dots produce a pattern resembling a checkerboard, with individual dots just beginning to join at their corners. When plates are created from lm, dot gain increases the joining of the dots, which causes sudden jumps in density in the printed image, rather than a smooth, continuous transition. To minimize the density jumps, printers can use other kinds of dots that remain discreet and retain their shape, even at coverages of sixty and seventy percent. A round dot, or octagonal dot are often used. Though most design software can specify round dots, selection of dot shape should occur early in the process to avoid choosing a shape not available in the RIP, imagesetter, or platesetter.
Conventional Screen Ruling

To minimize density jumps in halftones, round dots are preferred. Round dots do not touch until coverage is nearly 65% for the symmetrical round dots and 75% for asymmetrical dots. Dot gain is less at these higher coverages, and is more easily controlled or compensated for.
Asymetrical round dots at 75% Asymetrical round dots reversed at 80%

Screen Tints and Gradations

Most photopolymer plates are capable of holding a 2% highlight dot. If plates arent properly exposed, however, screen tints and highlight dots less than 3% tend to drop out. Because the small dots of highlight areas are subject to relatively large dot gain, it is important that any highlight limitations are discussed with the printer before separations are made. Although printers in offset lithography can print acceptable highlights using 5% lm dots, exographic printers may have to reduce a similarly bright highlight to 2%, taking into account the additions of dot gain. Offset lithography

Gradations and Vignettes

Flexographic dot gain on highlights makes it difcult to print a fade-to-white gradation without a harsh break at the highlight edge. When designing images for exography, it is best to fade off the end of the design (rather than to white), or place a border at the highlight end of a vignette.

Selection of proper screen ruling, which is critical to four-color process exography, is often dictated by the type of substrate. Anilox cell count and screen ruling for separations should be correlated for best results. The cells of the anilox, which ink a halftone plate, should be large enough to produce appropriate



Line Screens and Cells Per Inch

Screen Ruling (lpi) Cells Per Inch (cpi) Application
The corrugated industry prints halftones screened at 45, 55, 65, or 85 lpi. 65 lpi 280-360 cpi Corrugated Flexographic newspaper printers print halftones screened between 65 and 100 lpi. 85 lpi 360-400 cpi Newspaper Flexible packaging on lm substrates is commonly done at 120 to 150 lpi.

color strength, but not so large that the halftone dots will dip into them like an inkwell. For conventional halftones, resolution is expressed as the number of lines of halftone dots per inch, also called screen ruling or lpi. Higher screen rulings produce higher resolution images because there are more dots per square inch used to reproduce detail. Compare the images in a newspaper (low screen ruling) to a picture in a monthly magazine (high screen ruling).
Stochastic Screening Stochastic, or frequency modulated (FM) screening, can offer advantages over conventional halftone screening. Stochastic screening eliminates the possibility of moir, and also allows the exographic printer to use HiFi color, which involves the application of six or seven process colors.

133 lpi

500-600 cpi

Flexible packaging High quality label printers have the capability of printing 200 lpi images.

150 lpi

800 cpi


Anilox Cell Angles and Halftone Screen Angles

Cells are engraved on an anilox roll at one of three angles: 30, 45, or 60.

Dot size used for stochastic screening, however, is extremely small, comparable in size to the highlight dot of conventional screening. Since exography is subject to signicant dot gain, stochastic screening should only be used after the printer and color separator have performed press fingerprints to determine the ideal dot size and accurate compensation for dot gain.




Offset halftone screen angle 7.5 from cell angle

Anilox cell angle

To avoid anilox moir, lm or plate screen angles should be at least 7.5 away from the anilox cell angle. Cyan, magenta, yellow, and black screen angles should also be set at least 15 apart from each other.

The number of lines per inch on the plate should be no more than 25% of the cells per inch on the anilox. Ideally, the anilox should contain a minimum of 4 cells for every halftone dot.


Step-and-Repeat & Die-Cutting

To save material costs and maximize productivity, the packaging

industry uses a printing technique called step-and-repeat. Different images, such as labels, are arranged on the plate to ll its repeat length and use the entire width of the substrate when printing. Often, a technique called nesting will be required. Images are strategically staggered in an arrangement that maximizes the repeat length and avoids the plate seam. The plate ends are cut to accommodate the arrangement. Nesting can give the appearance of a continuous repeat, and is used for jobs where all the images are part of a single roll, such as gift wrap. In addition to maximizing substrate area, staggering images can also avoid a problem called plate bounce. In exography, images are on the raised areas of the plate, and can produce a bounce when coming into jarring contact with an anilox roll or impression cylinder. Bouncing can cause print areas to skip or misprint if the bounce is away from the impression, or areas of excess inking if the movement is toward the anilox roll. After printing, most substrates are cut, folded, scored, sealed, or glued, often inline. In order for packaging to be properly constructed, die-cutting requirements must be exactly specied for both the designer and the printer. A die-cut label or folding carton, for example, must have all graphical elements in the correct positions. Packaging engineers often use Computer Aided Design (CAD) systems to design folding cartons, corrugated containers, or rigid paper boxes; designers may also import the CAD layout to use as template for design.

Nesting images can maximize the plate area and avoid the plate seam for step-and-repeat printing. Layout and imposition software offer step-andrepeat options for specic repeat lengths and web widths.


Bleeds To specify bleeds, the designer must know where the packaging will be cut, folded, and joined. In general, bleeds extend beyond fold and cut lines, but the precise amount of bleed depends on the press. Cut Areas When exographic printers are connected to inline atbed or rotary diecutting, the die must be held in register with the printed colors. Graphic elements should not be placed too close to cut areas. Glue & Seal Areas To ensure sealing, glue areas should be free of ink and varnish, especially those sealed by heat. Score Lines Die-cut folding cartons usually fold at score lines, where the designer should make sure that registration is precise.

Varnish-Free Areas Areas that contain variable information, such as freshness dates and product coding, must be free of varnish. Windows Die-cut windows for folding cartons or labels should be clearly indicated, but may not be available on all die-cutting machines. Always check with the printer before including them in the design. Bar Coding To help keep bar codes precise for lasers, they should be printed parallel to the direction of the web, and must allow for dot gain. Die-Cut Templates Templates can be exported from CAD systems to illustration programs, providing the designer with a two dimensional layout of the job.

Plate Bounce
Staggering images on the plate can help keep continuous contact between cylinders, minimizing plate bounce. Sometimes it is necessary to place nonprinting bearer bars on non-image areas to maintain contact.


The Prepress Process

Following design, production, and ripping, a job may take different paths through the prepress output and platemaking stages. For conventional photopolymer or rubber plates, jobs are rst processed through an imagesetter, creating lm output, which is used for plate exposure and processing. Plates are then placed on a mounting machine where, in some cases, a plate proof is made. A platesetter device essentially follows the same ow with the exception that the lm processing step is eliminated. With direct-to-plate (or cylinder), devices, shown below as laser ablation, both platemaking and processing steps are eliminated.

distorted to compensate for plate elongation, and electronically imposed (considering step-and-repeat requirements), the file is processed by the raster image processor (RIP) and output to lm or TM plate. The RIP converts PostScript data into a series of bitmapped images. The laser output device records this visual information received from the RIP onto lm or plate material. Larger, more complex les will take longer to process through the RIP than simple text les.
Flexographic Imagesetting Requirements Accuracy To optimize registration, output devices should meet a minimum standard of 1 mil over multiple separations. Geometric and absolute accuracy capabilities are also important imagesetters considerations. Size The imagesetter format size should be large enough to make the most effective and economic use of lm, given the particular application. Film All lm for soft photopolymer plates should be output to matte emulsion lm (minimum thickness: 0.004"; 0.007" is preferred). This helps avoid trapping air between the lm and plate during exposure. Calibration Film dot percentages below 10% should not vary by more than 1%; areas over 10% should not vary by more than 3%. Uniformity Screen tints should be a uniform dot percentage, with no variation in size between individual dots. Dot Shape The imagesetter should be capable of outputting a hard round dot. Resolution Resolution should be between 1200 and 3600 dpi. For line art, solids and type, 1200 dpi is adequate; halftones require a minimum of 2400 dpi. Density Film density is an important factor; imagesetter exposure levels and lm processing chemistry should provide DMax areas of 3.5-4.0.

Prepress Output

After a design has been trapped,


In exography, proong for halftone accuracy and color matching can be difcult and inexact. A digital or lm-based proofing method used in offset lithography may not be suitable for different kinds of substrates, for matching spot colors, or for reproducing exographic dot gain. Accurate proong may require using two or more methods.

Proong for Flexography

Soft Proof
During preliminary design, proong starts with a monitor, sometimes called a soft proof. A monitor can provide an overall view of the design, but RGB colors on a monitor will probably not match CMYK or spot colors printed on the substrate. Higher color delity is possible by calibrating the monitor and by using a color management system.

Digital Print Proof

Flexographic printers often provide mock-up packages, using proofs from digital laser printers. Many high-end digital proong methods meet industry color standards for prepress proong systems. Inexpensive desktop color printers can also give an approximation of specied colors. When used with a color management system, digital printers can provide contract proofs. Most digital systems are based on CMYK toner applications, so spot colors may not be accurate.

Most proong methods are limited to a small number of substrates. Because ink colors are affected by the absorption and color of the substrate, proofing to another material cannot provide accurate color matching.
Spot Colors Film Proofs

Since most lm-based and digital proofing methods apply toner in CMYK colors, spot colors often cannot be accurately produced. If matching spot colors is critical to a job, some printers can provide a catalog of colors that they can consistently print on a variety of substrates. Catalogs may contain specially formulated colors, or use systems similar TM to Pantone or FocolTone . Sometimes it is possible to request samples. To ensure accurate matching, spot colors should also be evaluated by a color measurement instrument.
Dot Gain

Most lm-based proong systems are designed to compensate for dot gain occurring in offset lithography. To use these systems for exography, two sets of lm must be printed. The rst set, which is used for platemaking, reduces dots to compensate for the actual exographic dot gain during printing. The second set, used for proong, increases the dots to simulate dot gain in the lm proof.

Plate Proof
For many years, exographic printers have used a plate proof created on a mounterproofer during plate mounting to verify plate register, quality, and content. Though expensive and not intended for customer approval, the plate proof today is mostly used on wide web presses. Plate proofs can be created for color matching, but they more commonly use ink hues that are not intended to match press colors. Color matching from a plate proof is very difcult due to the differences between proong and press equipment.

Adjustments for exographic dot gain are often not available in proong systems designed to mimic the dot gain found in offset lithography. For this reason, halftone images and smaller type may not be accurately reproduced in the proof. However, once a characterized prole is established for a given press using a color management system, dot gain can be simulated by a digital proong system.

Press Proof
Printed on the press, a press proof is the most accurate method, but because it is also the most expensive, it is not common.


What to Look For During a Press Check

Is the type sharp? Has the weight of the type changed? With a loupe, look for outline halos.

Are the colors in register? Make sure colors line up and check areas where inconsistent elongation may have caused misregistration. For a four-color process with traditional screening, color-to-color register should not vary by more than a single row of halftone dots.

Density/Color Intensity
Is the density of the color appropriate, especially in situations where screens and solids are printing from the same cylinder? Is the color strength consistent from side to side?

Color Match
Do spot colors match? Each color should be veried under 5000 Kelvin lighting conditions. When appropriate, use color measurement instruments to verify acceptable match.

accuracy. Makeready on a exographic press includes installation of the required plate cylinders and inks, setting levels for impression and ink pressure, register adjustment, and any setup for inline finishing, such as cutting, folding, or gluing. Pressure levels are particularly critical for accurate printing. Finally, after press adjustments are complete, the press operator checks colors for the job, running a sample at (or near) production speeds. Designers should also make sure to perform a press check for the rst actual print run.

Ink Laydown
Is the ink laydown consistent, without mottle? Are there pinholes or voids? Under a loupe, halftone dots should appear sharp, not slurred.

These are some of the elements that should be veried prior to printing.

Is the point size and font correct? Is the typography what was expected? Has plate elongation affected leading, letterspacing, or word spacing?

Is the width, caliper, and type of substrate as specied? If the substrate is an opaque lm, is the opacity appropriate?

Line Art
Have all of the images elongated and reproduced accurately?

External Register
Does the print line-up with the specied nishing operation, such as diecuts, sideseals, slots, scores, and glue areas? Request a mock-up container to check accuracy of external register.

Internal (color to color) and external (images to die-cut, sealing areas, perforations, etc.) If all colors have been accurately distorted, and the plates accurately mounted, the job should be in register.

Ink and Impression Levels

Look at the edges of solids for an outline halo, which is the result of excess ink or impression pressure. The press operator may be able to relieve some pressure; some plates may have spot color inaccuracies that require a plate remake or remount.

Have plate mounting and plate elongation maintained accurate trap areas?

Bar Coding Dot Gain

Dot gain levels should be comparable to those achieved during ngerprint trial. Have the bar codes been positioned to allow proper open area surrounding the code for scanning? Has the bar code been positioned with the bars parallel or perpendicular to the web direction? When mounted perpendicular to the web direction, bar codes will be affected by plate elongation.

UPC and Bar Coding Over-impression can change the width of bars and spaces, potentially making the bar code unreadable.

Wind Direction
Wind Direction Has the job been installed in the right direction on press? If the press is running roll-to-roll, is the print rewind in the proper direction? Has the job been set-up to print in the right direction on press? Will the print direction match the packaging or labeling operation?


Prepress Checklist & The Press Check

Before a exographic job is printed, a number of factors need to be checked to ensure

Glossary & Index

ablating: 8

colorimeter: 14

design roll: 2, 8

To remove by cutting, erosion, evaporation, or vaporization. In exography, laser ablating is used to image design rolls and plates.
anilox: 5, 6, 17

Any of various instruments used to determine or specify colors. A colorimeter measures the spectral reectance of a color, and computes numeric values for the hue, intensity, and purity.
color management system (CMS): 14

A rubber covered cylinder often used as an image carrier by exographic printers. Relief patterns and images are created by ablating the surrounding non-image area with laser light energy.
die-cutting: 18

An engraved metal or ceramic roll used to meter ink in the exographic inking system.
bearer bars: 18

Continuous strips of plate material usually placed on the outside of printing areas to minimize plate bounce and over-impression by taking up excess impression pressure during printing operations.
blanket: 4

A software system used to ensure color consistency among different input and output devices so that printed results match originals.
common impression cylinder press (CIC): 6, 7

The process of using sharp steel rules to cut shapes for labels, boxes and containers, from printed sheets. Die-cutting can be done on either at-bed or rotary presses. Rotary diecutting is usually done inline with printing.
direct-to-plate: 8

In offset printing, a rubber-surfaced fabric which is clamped around a cylinder, to which the image is transferred from the plate, and from which it is transferred to the paper.
bleeds: 18

A printing press conguration that positions all color decks around a central impression cylinder. The CIC press conguration offers web support throughout the printing operations, and optimum registration capabilities.
computer aided design (CAD): 18

The process of using digital information to laser image a printing plate or design roll, bypassing the lm stage of production.
distortion: 9

An image or color that extends to, and slightly beyond, the trimmed edge of a printed piece.
calendered paper: 10

Electronic equipment used by package design engineers to layout and design in three dimensions the structure of a package.
continuous repeat: 7

Intentional compensation for exographic plate elongation.

distortion factor: 9

Paper that has been passed through a group of rolls to reduce thickness, increase density, and improve its surface smoothness and gloss.
caliper: 10

The ability to print patterns or images on a web of substrate, void of any gaps in the printing.
contract proof: 20

A percentage number calculated by a plate elongation formula and applied to images prior to output of exographic lms.
dot gain: 15, 16

Thickness of a substrate, usually measured in thousandths of an inch.

cell angle: 6, 17

A proof supplied to a printer to document the color results expected on the press.
converting operations: 7

On an anilox roll, the measure of a line drawn through the center of a row of cells and a line drawn parallel to the shaft of the anilox. The angle at which cells are arranged on an anilox roll.
cells per inch (CPI): 4, 17

In packaging, any process performed to manufacture a completed package from a raw material or an unnished material.
corrugated: 6, 7, 10

An unavoidable increase in the size of halftone dots as they pass through the stages of platemaking and printing. Dot gain varies according to the characteristics of the press, ink, and substrate used. If dot gain is not accounted for during the creating of color separations and proofs, unexpected color shifts or loss of detail will occur on press.
doctor blade: 4, 6

The combination of linerboard and corrugating medium as a uted material.

corrugated press: 2, 7

A thin blade of metal or polyethylene mounted parallel to and in contact with an anilox roll to meter excess ink from the non-cell areas.
dry trapping: 12

On an anilox roll, the number of cells in a linear inch.

cell volume: 6

An inline sheet-fed press (usually a exographic press) designed for printing sheets of corrugated.
cut areas: 18

A measure of the capacity to carry ink of a square inch of anilox roll. Cell volume may be calculated as theoretical volume, or measured by a technique of liquid volume measurement, or scientically measured by a technique known as infratometry.
choke: 12

The technique of printing multiple colors by drying each color immediately after it is applied and before the next ink is applied on or over it. Flexography and gravure print by dry trapping. See wet trapping
dual doctor ink chamber: 4, 6

In die-cutting, a region of a package that will be cut-out as a window or as part of the package construction, or as a slot for a closure tab.
cylinder: 5

A trapping technique of slightly reducing the size of a line, an image element, or a dot to create a trap.
clay coated: 10

In exography, the term cylinder usually refers to the rollers on which plates are mounted (plate cylinders), and the impression roller (impression cylinder).

A high-quality paperboard having a surface coating of pigment or pigment like solids and appropriate binders.

On a exographic press, a cartridge designed to supply ink to the anilox roll in an enclosed area. Ink is pumped into and circulated through the cartridge which is positioned on the anilox roll. Two thin strips of metal or polyethylene (doctor blades) are in direct contact with the anilox roll. One of the blades contains the ink within the cartridge, the other blade contains and meters the ink from the non-cell areas of the anilox. When using a dual doctor ink chamber, the fountain roll can be eliminated.


durometer: 15

inline press: 6, 7

nailhead: 12

A measure of the hardness of rubber. The measuring instrument most widely used is a Shore A durometer gauge.
ngerprint: 12, 14, 15

A multicolor press where the printing units are assembled on a common plane, or inline with one another. Also refers to any combination of printing and converting operation done simultaneously.
intaglio: 4

A method of testing characteristics of a printing press by use of a test plate.

uted material

In exographic printing, an ink drying problem usually caused by two or more colors printed on top of one another in a trapping situation, resulting in incomplete drying to the successive ink layers, and an ink pick-off area that resembles the head of a nail.
narrow web: 6

A paper substrate formed into rounded pleats and sandwiched between two paper linerboards. Fluting material adds structural strength to corrugated board.
fountain roll: 6

A process in which the image is recessed below the non-image area, used in gravure and steel die engraving.
kraft linerboard: 10

A type of paper made from chemically pulped wood bers, and used as the top and bottom layers in a sheet of corrugated.
kiss: 6

The limit of narrow web exography has been specied to be as narrow as 18" or as wide as 32" by various sources within the industry. There is presently no agreement on the exact cut-off width that differentiates wide web from narrow web.
nesting: 7, 18

In exography, a rubber covered roll in the two roll exographic inking system. The function of the fountain roll in a two roll system is to deliver and meter ink to the anilox roll.
fountain solution: 4

In exographic printing, the lightest contact pressure necessary for complete image transfer to a substrate.
laser ablation: 8

A technique of placing images between other images on a exographic step-and-repeat layout. Nesting is done to minimize substrate waste, and/or to minimize exographic plate bounce.
nip: 6

In lithography, a solution of water, a natural or synthetic gum, and other chemicals used to dampen the plate and keep non-printing areas from accepting ink.
freesheet paper: 10

A process of imaging onto rubber or photopolymer design rolls or plates. Images are created by ablating the surrounding nonimage area with laser light energy.
lithography: 2, 4

Contact point between two rollers, usually a metal driven roller and undriven rubber covered roller.
offset lithography: 4

Paper free of mechanical wood pulp.

gradation: 14

A smooth transition between shades.

gravure: 2, 4

A method of printing from a plane surface (such as a smooth stone or metal plate) on which the image to be printed is ink-receptive and the nonprinting area ink repellent.
lpi: 5,16, 17

Planographic print using an intermediate blanket cylinder to transfer an image from the lithographic plate to the substrate.
over-impression: 13, 15

An intaglio printing process that uses an engraved plate as a master image carrier. Gravure is used for printing packaging, speciality products, and publications.
HiFi, high delity: 11, 17

A method of increasing the process color printing gamut by printing six, and sometimes seven, process colors.
image carrier: 4

(lines per inch) A measure of the frequency of a halftone screen, usually ranging from 55-300. Originally, halftones were made by placing an etched glass plate over an image and exposing it to produce dots. Lpi refers to the frequency of the horizontal and vertical lines.
metallized lm, metallized paper: 10

In a exographic press set-up, excess pressure between the plate and the impression roll.
paperboard: 10

The physical component of a printing press responsible for transferring ink from the ink distribution system to the appropriate areas of a substrate.
impression cylinder: 4, 6

Paper or lm that has been coated with a microscopic lm of metal. A metallized paper or lm is produced by melting and vaporizing aluminum in a vacuum while passing a web of paper around a chilled roller and over the point of vaporization. Vaporized molecules collect on the cool web, giving the paper or lm a metallic nish.
moir: 6, 17

There is some question as to the distinction between paper and paperboard. Paperboard is thicker, heavier in basis weight, and more rigid than paper. Most paper that is over 12 points (0.012") thick is considered paperboard, however, some thinner papers with a thickness of 10 points (0.010") are also considered to be paperboard.
photopolymer: 8

Any of a variety of materials that undergo a chemical change when exposed to ultraviolet light.
planographic: 4

The cylinder that provides web support during image transfer from plate to substrate.
inline nishing: 7

Any converting operation done as a continuous process with a printing operation, including lamination, die-cutting, perforating, folding, and sealing.

A repetitive interference pattern caused by overlapping symmetrical grids of dots or lines having a differing pitch or angle.
mounting tape: 9

A process for printing from a plane surface, both image and non-image are carried on a common plane as in lithography.
plate elongation: 9

A compressible, or a non-compressible substrate with adhesive applied to both sides, and used for afxing exographic printing plates to plate cylinders. Mounting tapes are available in a variety of types and thicknesses.

In exographic printing, a physical lengthening of the exographic image carrier around the cylinder or curve direction, that occurs during the plate mounting step.

Glossary & Index


Glossary & Index

plate bounce: 18

resolution: 16, 17

trap, trapping: 12

An erratic rotation of a printing press cylinder, such as a plate cylinder, that results in defective impressions. This is caused by the lead edge of image areas on a exographic plate cylinder coming in contact with the anilox or impression roll.
plate proofs: 20

The measure of neness and detail in an image. The scale of resolution depends on the device being measured. Scans are measured in samples per inch (spi) or pixels per inch (ppi). Monitors are measured in ppi. Halftone screens can be measured in lines per inch (lpi). In all cases, the higher the resolution, the more detailed the image.
reverse side printing: 11

In prepress, a technique which allows for variation in registration during the press run. On the desktop, this is done primarily by allowing an overlap between abutting colors.
variable repeat length: 7

A print made from the live production plates prior to going to press. Plate proofs are usually not appropriate for evaluating color results, but may be used as an in-house quality control proof before going to press.
plate thickness: 9

In printing, the capability of a printing press to print from various size plate cylinders or printing plates.
vignettes: 16

Printing the underside of a clear substrate. Sometimes called back printing.

run-length: 5

An image in which the background fades gradually away until it blends into the unprinted substrate.
wet-out: 10

A measure of the height of a exographic plate from the back to the top of the image area, usually expressed in thousandths of an inch.
polyethylene lms: 2, 5, 10

The size of a printing job, usually indicated by the number of impressions or footage required to complete the job. Also, the number of impressions that may be expected from a printing plate or a set of printing plates.
solid bleached sulfate: 10

The tendency of an ink to level-out as would a true liquid. On a substrate, an ink lm should ow and level itself rather than beading.
wet trapping: 12

Thin clear substrates used as packaging materials, commonly known as plastic as in plastic bags.
polymer lms: 10

Paperboard made with sulfate pulp containing 100% bleached bers.

spectrophotometer: 14

The technique of printing multiple colors whereby each succeeding ink lm remains open (not dry) as the next color is applied on or over it.
white back-up plate: 11

Any one of a number of different nonabsorbent, thin, clear, or colored substrates used as packaging materials, and commonly referred to as plastics.
printing plate: 4

An instrument used to determine the distribution of light energy reected by a color or a printed ink.
spot color: 11

A printing plate made for applying a solid white ink as a reective base under all colored images on a clear substrate.
wide web: 6

Color printed with a custom ink, rather than with a process color combination.
spread: 12

In exography, a rubber or photopolymer material used as the image carrier to transfer ink from anilox to substrate.
proof, proong: 20

A prepress function that compensates for printing press misregistration. A spread is the slight size increase of the inserted image.
stack press: 7

A prototype of a job to be printed that is made from plates, lm or electronic data. Used for in-house quality control and/or for customer inspection and approval.
raster image processor (RIP): 19

The lower limit of wide web exo has been specied to be as narrow as 18" or as wide as 32" by various sources within the exographic industry. There is presently no agreement on the exact cut-off width that differentiates wide web from narrow web.
windows: 18

A multicolor printing press where all color units are built vertically or stacked.
step-and-repeat: 18

In packaging, an area of a package that will be cut out (or left clear on clear substrates) to expose the product held within the package.

The computerized process that results in an electronic bitmap which indicates every spot position on a page in preparation for actual printout.
reection densitometer: 14

In photomechanics, imagesetting, or plate exposure, the procedure of multiple exposures using the same image information by stepping it in position according to a predetermined layout.
stochastic screening: 17

An apparatus for measuring the optical density, or light absorbing qualities, of an ink.
relief: 5

In printing, a process that prints from raised image areas.

repeat length: 7

Also called frequency modulated or FM screening. An alternative to conventional screening that separates an image into very ne, randomly placed microdots, rather than a grid of geometrically aligned halftone cells.
substrate: 4, 10

Printing length of a plate cylinder determined by one revolution of the plate cylinder gear.

A material on which print or coating is applied, such as paper, polyethylene, or foil.


Other Educational and Reference Materials from Agfa

An Introduction to Digital Color Prepress1997 Edition

A fundamental reference for anyone interested in PostScript color. Basic concepts are explained in a clear, objective and highly visual way. A useful and award-winning volume, with over 400,000 copies in print in eight languages.

A Guide to Color Separation

Digital Color Prepress - Volume Two

Working With Prepress and Printing Suppliers

Digital Color Prepress - Volume Three

This booklet provides a more advanced look at the topic of PostScript color. A special emphasis is placed on reproducing color pages in print, including the use of HiFi color and stochastic screening.

This booklet explains key elements in the relationship between document creators and their service providers. Contains time-saving tips to ensure successful transition of jobs from design to lm output to nal print.

An Introduction to Digital Scanning

Digital Color Prepress - Volume Four

An Introduction to Digital Photo Imaging

This booklet looks at how computer technology is blending with and changing traditional photography, and the impact it has on photographers and imaging professionals. Explains how to evaluate digital cameras, scanners, input and output devices, and how to get started in this emerging eld.

An Introduction to Digital Color Printing

A rst-ever publication that provides an objective look at technology, applications, and processes. Learn how to save time and money and use digital printing to your best advantage. Includes a bound-in digitally printed insert for comparison with offset printing.

This booklet focuses specically on many key aspects of scanning. Contains 40 pages of both basic and advanced information, presented objectively and graphically. An essential reference for scanner users with any level of expertise.

A Guide to Digital Photography

Theory and Basics

PostScript Process Color Guide1996 Edition

This 52-page oversized reference contains over 17,000 electronically created CMY and CMY+K process color combinations (on coated and uncoated stock), intended to help predict how colors on the screen will look in print. Also includes production tips, instructions for use, and special color viewing templates. Available in U.S. (SWOP) and a multilingual European standard version.

The Agfa Guide to Digital Color Prepress

Macintosh CD-ROM Edition

This all-new guide is a must read for anyone working with or interested in digital photography. Offers clear, visual explanations on traditional photography basics as well as key concepts from the emerging digital realm.

The ultimate companion to the awardwinning Digital Color Prepress series. This CD-ROM contains over 630 Mb of interactive content, including 350 screens of detailed information, numerous animations, videos, voiceovers, glossary, timeline, build-a-page game, and more.
For more information or to order, see contact listings on back cover.

Credits Writing and Technical Direction: Barry Lee Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY Creative Direction and Design: Lynne Stiles and Maria Giudice YO, San Francisco, CA Copyediting: Robert Shuster Seattle, WA Illustrations: Steve McGuire McGuire Design, Martinez, CA Special Thanks: Don Haaga, Ben Seibel This publication copyright 1997 by Bayer Corp. All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced in any form without expressed written permission from the publisher.

Production Notes This booklet was produced using a variety of Macintosh computers. The illustrations were created using Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop. All images and text were imported into QuarkXPress for page layout. Pages were individually output to the Agfa SelectSet 5000 imagesetter using Agfa Balanced Screening. Printing was done in four-color process plus one spot color, PMS 407, on Centura Dull Coated 80# book stock. Film Preparation: Digital Pre-Press International San Francisco, CA Printing Supervision: Jack Gaido Hemlock Printers, Burlingame, CA Printing: Hemlock Printers Vancouver, Canada Ordering Information: This booklet is part of a series of educational and reference materials published by Agfa. If youd like to be on our mailing list, or obtain information about other publications in the Digital Color Prepress series, contact us via the numbers or addresses below. Quantity discounts and foreign language versions available.

AGFA, the Agfa rhombus, ColorTune, and Digital Color Prepress are trademarks of Agfa-Gevaert AG. Macintosh is a registered trademark of Apple Computer Inc. PostScript, Photoshop and Illustrator are trademarks of Adobe Systems Inc. and may be registered in certain jurisdictions. QuarkXPress is a registered trademark of Quark Inc. Pantone and PMS are registered trademarks of Pantone, Inc., for color reproduction and color reproduction materials. FreeHand is a trademark of Macromedia, Inc. Windows is a trademark of Microsoft Corporation. FocolTone is a trademark of FocolTone USA Inc. Trapwise is a trademark of Luminous Corporation. DK&A Island Trapper is a trademark of DK&A Inc. All trademarks have been used in an editorial context with no intention of infringement.

Agfa Educational Publishing P.O. Box 787 Randolph, MA 02368-0787 USA Phone: 1-800-395-7007 Fax: 1-617-341-6261 http://www.agfahome.com
NEEJ1 First Printing May 1997 Printed in Belgium by The Color Revolution

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