Lenticular Flexographic printing ready for the big jump

Dalkey, Ireland – September 26, 2011 – DPLenticular, the acclaimed European leader in the supply of Lenstar™ lenticular plastic sheets and rolls for the graphic arts industry, announces together with OMET the successful conclusion of printing trials with Lenstar lenticular roll material on the OMET X-Flex flexographic printing press.  According to Gianluca Vitali from OMET Technical Dept., the results look very promising and will certainly create new possibilities and markets for many flexo printers. Samples from the print run will be distributed at OMET’s booth 6H90 during LABELEXPO EUROPE 2011 in Brussels.

Omet X-Flex flexographic printing press lenticular

The trials were done on the Omet X-Flex press. This modular press has full servo driven web control devices, web ride, tension control, and full auto registration with camera at the end of press.  The Lenticular material used for the test was Lenstar™ 150lpi, 262 micron roll. The test image was supplied by Pixalen Studio, a company who specializes in high end lenticular pre-press service that includes everything from creative design, interlacing and imposition, to delivering the flexo plates. The latest generation Kodak Flexcel plates were used for the test in combination with Zeller+Gmelin UV-inks.

Not eager to engage in lenticular flexo printing

While printing lenticular images on offset presses has been around for some time, the technology was not an instant hit on flexographic presses. Daniel Pierret, Managing Director of DP Lenticular explains: “Although some successful tests and print runs have been done before, issues around print resolution, dot size, and press registration prevented it from becoming a mainstream technology.  One of the biggest problems we had with roll-fed flexo presses was poor registration. Compared to a sheet-fed press, it’s difficult to take a sample during the run to check the image quality. Only when the material is printed, cut and finished, you can see the final result. So, it was quite understandable that people were not eager to engage in lenticular flexo printing.”

Good quality lenticular flexo printing is a reality

However, the combination of higher resolution flexo imaging devices, combined with servo driven presses with auto registration systems and stable Pacur Lenstar™ lenticular roll sheet material, make good quality ‘direct-to-lens’ lenticular flexographic printing a reality today. Bob Marriott from DP Lenticular assisted Omet during the test run. “Matching the best lenticular material with the latest technology and the right equipment is all it takes to make it work,” he says, “and that’s exactly what we wanted to show people by running these print tests together with OMET. Thanks to the servo motors that provide direct drive to the plate and impression cylinders, the servo driven X-Flex has the ability to print with minute changes in pitch. Besides that, the latest generation Lenstar lenticular roll material has proven to be very stable on the press, which is key in getting good results. That, combined with Omet’s automatic register system, made it possible to print 3D images that all looked pretty nice and I believe most people would find them of good quality.”

Added value for package design

This technology allows high volume 3D lenticular production at low cost, and should create more opportunities for lenticular within the packaging market. Daniel Pierret: “It’s just much more cost-effective to print rolled flexographic lenticular for labels, than to convert sheet lenticular to rolls. The short set up times, high speed running, and low waste levels fit today’s market for top label printers. There is no doubt brand owners will see the value of motion graphics for higher-end packaging options and new product introductions. Adding motion or 3D effects to a label is going to be a great way to give a package design added value.”

Bob Marriott concludes: “We are very happy that OMET was willing to help us with the testing. However, having said that, I’m quite sure we can reproduce similar result with any other state-of-the-art flexographic press.  Off course, gaining confidence in this field can only be achieved through experience. Every flexo printer will have to go through the same learning curve as the offset guys, but I’m sure that with the combined effort of our lenticular specialists and the technical knowledge of flexo press manufacturers we can bring this to a good end.”

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