Every once in a while, we are asked about providing ink ‘drawdowns’ for customers. These are common in the world of Offset printing, but not in the world of flexographic label printing. Because of the way a label press transfers the ink to the plate (and then to the paper), it is virtually impossible to replicate this process in the ink room (or anyplace else but on a printing press).
To ensure customers get exactly the color they want, we always offer a no-charge press check for anyone that wants it. This is very helpful on complicated labels that have not been run before, or on jobs where you don’t quite know what you want. If you can’t decide on the exact PMS color for your label, a press check may be a good solution.
Another option we offer is a color sample printed on press. This takes time because we have to work it in between other ‘live’ jobs on press, so it isn’t always practical for jobs with a tight timeline, but it is a good way to see how your color will look on the actual label stock you have chosen.
For those that are curious about the technical aspects of putting ink on paper, we offer the following images:
This is a print station on a flexographic label press. The gray roller is called an ANILOX ROLL and it is what actually pulls the ink from the ink pan and transfers it onto the printing plate (the darker, brown/purple cylinder above the anilox roll). We have various anilox rolls that deliver different amounts of ink to the plate – changing these rollers to others that deliver more or less ink is the primary way we adjust color on press. This is generally more exact and repeatable than altering the ink at press. When we document the anilox roller used on each color station, and the ink used, we can always be sure that we can repeat the job again and again with very consistent results.
Here is another diagram showing the same thing. The anilox takes the ink from the pan (or the fountain roll) and delivers it onto the plate in the precise amount required to print the ink density you need.