Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Flexo Myths - Busted!

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Flexo Myths - Busted!

Article excerpt

Like the History Channel's Myth Busters, we are finally going to put to rest all the misconceptions about newspaper flexography.

Before we start, however, a little flexographic history is in order. The water-based printing process was invented in England around 1890 and was then called aniline printing. In 1952, Frank Moss and a group of other printers renamed the process to flexography. The first newspaper to make the commitment to go flexo, in 1987, was the Providence (R.I.) Journal, which converted entirely to flexo in 1992.

A number of other pioneer newspapers experimented with flexo, often installing slip-in units. One, Fort lauderdale's South Florida Sun-Sentinel, tried that in 1981 with Kidder Stacey units made by the Motter Printing Press Co., which KBA later took over. The Denton (Texas) Record-Chronicle in 1986 used presses from the former Publishers Equipment Corp.

Today there are 38 printers using newspapers flexo presses. KBA, MAN Roland, Goss, TKS and Mitsubishi were all manufacturing such presses and equipment at one time or another. Cerutti, an Italian company, manufactures only flexo presses.

From the beginning the flexo was considered the industry's most environmentally friendly printing process. There are a number of reasons to back up this claim.

1. Little to no VOC emissions, no ink mist problems, and no special air filtration is needed, saving on energy, filters and their treatment.

2. No tracking. Flexo can run a narrower web that would be equivalent to a wider web in offset because offset requires a margin wide enough to keep tracking marks off the printed portion of a page. That translates to newsprint savings.

3. Water-based inks also mean no hazardous chemicals used in pres clean-up compared with the solvents used to clean offset's oil-based inks.

4. Newsprint is totally recyclable through a new process.

5. Plates are recyclable. Unlike aluminum offset plates, flexo plates made from the highest, cleanest grade of steel can be melted down and reprocessed. Their cost is higher owing to the addition of the photopolymer layer.

6. Flexo presses have fewer moving parts, which means fewer problems and mechanical failures than offset. …

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