HYBRID Software is delighted to announce that HYBRID Software Intelligent Flexo, a breakthrough module in HYBRID CLOUDFLOW to boost flexo print quality from existing equipment and software systems, has successfully received a 2021 FTA Technical Innovation Award. For more than two decades, FTA has recognized and celebrated the incredible achievements made by individuals and companies, large and small, which have contributed to the growth of the industry. This is the second straight year HYBRID Software has received an FTA Technical Innovation Award. Last year, it won the award for CLOUDFLOW Patchplanner.
One of the most important determinants of high quality printing is producing high quality plates as easily and effectively as possible. For a flexo printer, there are two points to consider. First, are the flexo plates, and the platemaking equipment that makes them, optimized to produce the highest possible print quality? And second, whether those plates are made in-house or by a trade shop, are they produced using a repeatable manufacturing process so print quality will be consistent for every job?
The input to Intelligent Flexo is simply a set of screened color separations. These can come from HYBRID’s own CLOUDFLOW workflow or from any third-party RIP that can generate unencrypted TIFF or LEN files. It optimizes flexo print quality using existing equipment and software as the starting point. It identifies problem areas—looking for different zones in the artwork that warrant intervention—and then applies specific techniques to generate effects that will improve print quality. Its technology mimics “digital dot etching”, helping to disrupt ink viscosity to provide smoother gradations, more uniform solids, and overall better reproduction of graphic images and fine details.
HYBRID Software Intelligent Flexo operates as a configurable, automated workflow process module. For example, with surface screening, Intelligent Flexo will improve ink transfer and boost density repeatably and consistently. It does this while varying many parameters, such as custom patterning, cell wall size, and skipping small dots with enough intelligence to keep micro-dots solid on finished plates.
HYBRID Intelligent Flexo identifies different zones in the artwork that warrant inspection and, in these zones, applies specific editing to generate cleaner effects. The intention of these effects is to help overcome issues that are inherent with the flexo process.
Users can create their own customized area coverage patterns for Intelligent Flexo, so that it is truly unique for each printer. The significance is not only the screening options HYBRID Software offers but, more important, the freedom to experiment with any screening desired. Thus, it allows every trade shop or printer to add their own specially-developed technologies to the screens available—uniquely differentiating themselves from competitors with their own customized platemaking.
Because Intelligent Flexo works in a non-proprietary fashion, it fits into any plate processing environment with different print setups—from inks to substrates to resolutions to plates to anilox rolls, etc. It is compatible with all major flexo plate imagers, with noticeable quality improvements for images and graphics at any resolution. In an automatic, intelligent way, Intelligent Flexo improves the quality and stability of flexo printing, without a considerable investment—or change of prepress workflow or equipment.
The Intelligent Flexo technology is based on a collaborative effort between HYBRID Software and Steurs, a flexo repro house. The company, founded in 1949, is one of the leading repro houses in the Benelux. Their objective was to create a flexo plate that delivers higher quality and more stability, as well as color consistency for the printing of flexible packages and corrugated boxes. Steurs, a respected innovator, has its own R&D department where they develop innovative solutions to answer to the needs of their brand owners and printing companies.
“HYBRID Software is honored and grateful to receive another FTA Technical Innovation award in the Prepress – Graphics category, this year,” remarks Guido Van der Schueren, Chairman of HYBRID Software. “Every flexo trade shop and printer works every day to maximize their print quality, but making the highest quality flexo plates has always been the realm of highly skilled craftsmen. By working with demanding partners like Steurs and SGK, Mavigrafica, and Tadam, HYBRID Software has been able to distill that craft into software, creating a repeatable manufacturing process that is truly intelligent. And in keeping with our open systems philosophy, we built a solution that would work with any flexo workflow, not just our own. We believe that everyone should have the freedom to install any system that offers true quality or productivity benefits—and the power to implement their own technological nuances to differentiate themselves from others. That’s the underlying potential of Intelligent Flexo.”