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Modifying the qualitative properties of print by surface treatment of flexographic printing plate
Journal of Print and Media Technology Research, Volume: 6, Issue: 2, Pages: 57 - 67
Swansea University Author: David Beynon
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In the fast-pace technology development in graphic industry, modern flexography has found its domain mostly inthe packaging sector and it is increasingly of interest for functional printing. Functional printing has a relatively lowmarket value but greater interest in research. Due to the new qualita...
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In the fast-pace technology development in graphic industry, modern flexography has found its domain mostly inthe packaging sector and it is increasingly of interest for functional printing. Functional printing has a relatively lowmarket value but greater interest in research. Due to the new qualitative requirements, workflows and materials usedin flexography had to be updated and improved. The application of digitally controlled processes and procedures hastaken the place of the analogue production, together with the new methods of material processing and improvements ofthe materials themselves. This research focuses on the functional modification of photopolymer flexographic printingplate’s properties with the aim of achieving optimal output quality. During the transfer of the printing ink from theanilox to the printing plate and then to the printing substrate, surface properties of the printing plate influence thequality of the print. Therefore, surface properties of the printing plate should be compatible with the used printingink and the printing substrate, which is especially important when using new formulations of inks and experimentingwith different printing substrates and applications, for example in functional printing. In this research, samples of photopolymerflexographic printing plates were exposed to UV-ozone treatment in order to modify the surface propertiesof the photopolymer material. Results have displayed significant changes in surface free energy of the photopolymermaterial when the printing plate samples were exposed to the UV-ozone for periods up to 5 minutes. In order to analyzethe quality of the prints produced with UV-ozoned flexographic printing plates, test prints were produced. Printsproduced with printing plates with longer UV-ozone treatment have displayed the qualitative changes in the reproductionof fine printed elements, i.e. the width of fine lines, coverage values, ink volume on print and the definition ofthe shape and edges of printed elements. Changes of named properties of the print are significant for conventional,and in many cases for functional printing. Performed research proved that the functional modification of flexographicprinting plates with the aim of improving the print quality is possible. The UV-ozone treatment is a procedure wherethe printing plate is exposed to significantly higher energy than with conventional UVA and UVC tubes. Therefore, theduration of the UV-ozone treatment must be precisely adjusted in order to maximize the quality of the print, while atthe same time maintaining printing plate’s functionality.
flexography, photopolymer, UV-ozone, surface free energy, ink transfer
Faculty of Science and Engineering