While touring DWS Printing in Long Island, NY, USA, Tom Staib, owner and president, pointed to a small piece of equipment and said it was one of the best purchases he has made. The JM Heaford plate mounter, and those like it, have been a boon for countless label converters across the industry.
The best plate technology and the newest state-of-the-art flexo press, along with multiple other consumables, will not amount to much if the plates are mounted incorrectly. Improper plate mounting leads to a loss in quality, downtime, and additional start-up waste associated with substrates, inks, energy, etc.
As Trendelina Kryeziu, marketing communications manager at Flint Group, states, "Plate mounting is a very straight-forward process." It does have tremendous ramifications on the final printed image, though.
"Basically, if all the plates in a set are not mounted accurately it will be impossible to achieve good print results on the press," says David Muncaster, director at JM Heaford. "Even the most sophisticated printing presses can't print good quality if there is any skew between plates. If plates are mounted incorrectly, then the cylinders must be removed from the press and re-mounted."
"Misregistration, blurry images, color inconsistency on multiple images, poor quality, and the potential of rejection at the end user due to visual quality deficiencies are all possible results of improper plate mounting," explains Bill Enright, senior applications engineer at Mark Andy.
Enright, affectionately known as Dr. Flexo, cites a host of supplies necessary to properly mount plates. These include a cutting apparatus, ruler, squeegee and brayer, cleant lint-free towels, isopropyl alcohol, the plate mounter, mounting tapes, adhesion promotors and edge sealing tapes.
"Properly and accurately mounted plates, while making the right mounting tape selection based on the printing plate durometer, as well as the selected substrate, will have much more impact on print quality than most converters realize," adds Enright. "If a converter striving for the best obtainable printed quality hasn't recently conducted their own trials of plate and tape combinations to optimize their process, I strongly suggest they invest in the time to do so."
The plate goes a long way in this process, as well. Converters would be best served to converse with their plate and tape suppliers to perfect this process for their unique printing environment. "Optimizing the plate technology with the correct mounting tape is critical to print performance and image quality" explains Ronnie Scogin, applications development specialist at MacDermid Graphics Solutions. "It's important to understand that the durometer of...