New software assists with plate mounting.

Author:Rank, Nathan

The challenge with very precise plates, higher line screens, and expanded gamut printing requiring more plates on press, is that it has been tougher than ever to assure everything registers correctly--well, not any more.

Over the past few years, message-oriented middleware (MOM) and extensible Markup Language (XML) have been developed to coordinate software communication between prepress software and plate mounters. A MOM is software that sends and receives messages between two systems with a common goal--in this case, ensuring that plates are mounted perfectly onto a cylinder.

These software systems can coordinate locations of marks, distortion, number of cylinders (inks), etc. so that the mounting machine can easily guide its cameras to the position of the microdots and mount the flexo plate efficiently on the cylinder. The advantage is that with minimal time, we are proactively reducing errors and increasing accuracy. By digitally sending and receiving registration dot coordinates, we can assure they arrive to the mounter correctly and the operator has the right data.

If each of us measures the dots, it is likely everyone will get a slightly different number. We are trying to measure microns, but only when software talks to software are we going to be exact.

The benefit is quite simple. It takes only seconds of additional time in the prepress system to prepare but saves many minutes when the automated mounter cameras determine the correct position for the plates--and even more time if it is mounted imprecisely. Precision is assured to the micron and the only intervention by the mounting operator is loading the job's filename--and placing the sleeve on the cylinder.

In particular, Hybrid Software has worked very closely with AV Flexologic and their label mounting machines to create an exceptional solution that works great for labels. The software utilizes MOM XML format knowledge for the mounter that they gained from their corrugated Patchplanner system. One thing they learned was that even corrugated printers, at times, used the mounter for full plates--not...

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