November 9, 2017 Comments(0)

How Do HD Printing Plates Work?

Posted by: John B. Reinhardt

(NOTE: In this post, we’ll do a quick rundown on the very basics of the technology. Subsequent posts will dive a little further into specific details. Stay tuned for more details!)

Flexo Printing with Gravure Quality.

Gravure printing, often thought of as the superior (and most expensive) method, is starting to see some competition when it comes to print quality. High-definition plate technology is allowing smaller flexo and offset printers to offer print quality that’s comparable to it’s larger gravure competitors. (All without increased unit cost, lead time, or MOQ’s!)

Through a combination of cutting edge software, plate making equipment, and special plate material, HD plates can offer enhanced printing results, without having to invest millions  of dollars on new printing presses. With more printers getting access to this powerful “front-of-the-house” plate technology, more print buyers can expect a wider array of better printing options, resulting in better shelf presence for their product.

How Do HD Printing Plates Work? | Do They Print Better?

Look closely at this flexo printing sample under a loupe. You’ll notice the image is comprised of a series of dots…varying in color and ink density. This combination / registration of  thousands and thousands of dots, is what makes up your printed image. This dot pattern is “etched” into the plate and acts as an ink carrier from the printing cylinder to the substrate during the printing process.

Flexo print sample – standard digital plate

flexo printing under a loupe

Looking at the image below you’ll notice a superimposed view of the plate material itself. All of the top points represent dots (as seen above).

hd printing plates up close

With the HD Plates, you’ll notice the dots are flat as opposed to conical. This allows for a flat, clearly defined printing surface. (see graphic below)

hi def plate dots

The results of this consistent printing surface are:

  • better ink coverage
  • consistent and repeatable color from run-to-run
  • extended color gamuts – hitting more PMS colors more accurately
  • enhanced product images

All of this ends up giving the customer a better product, which in turn gives the customer a better shelf presence. We’ll discuss the process of imaging the plates and deploying them on the flexo press. Stay tuned for more!

-PSG 2017