flexographic printing plate mounting process

Patented Technology Helps Printers Remain Competitive

tesa Softprint® SNAP-ON technology helps standardize flexographic print production.

May 7, 2018

In the Print Packaging Industry One Thing is Certain

Given the high levels of change in the commercial print packaging industry, it can be hard to say what lies ahead. As the industry continues to evolve, however, one thing is certain: the use of standardized production processes to remain competitively priced and maintain print quality is a must.

As average run sizes continue to decline, commercial printers are actively looking to optimize their processes in order to achieve maximum profitability and throughput. Extended color gamut (ECG) printing is a commonly recognized way to improve efficiencies and create consistent and precise quality. The concept uses a fixed range of 7 colors (CMYK +3 extra predefined inks) to improve productivity through short print runs by eliminating ink changes between every job. The challenge of implementing ECG printing lies in the level of harmonization during each production step.

Plate mounting tapes have a significant influence on this success because they interact with many elements such as plates, sleeves, ink, anilox, and the printing machine itself. Adhesive plate mounting tapes are a key component of print production because they are involved in every process step: mounting, printing and demounting.

In order to support flexographic printers when implementing these standardized processes we created a patented adhesive system called SNAP-ON technology, this enhances our tesa Softprint® plate mounting offering.

SNAP-ON technology is a new generation of pressure-sensitive adhesives to support printers in their need for higher process efficiency. The advantages of the SNAP-ON technology are based on a perfect balance of adhesive performance and high quality foam to ensure the following:

  • Fast job changeovers
  • Secure press runs
  • Excellent print quality
  • Easy and clean demounting properties
mounting and plate repositioning

Mounting, Printing, and Demounting Made Easy with SNAP-ON Technology

Low tack adhesives have grown to be one of the most versatile and successful adhesives in the printing industry because they offer easier plate repositioning. Our acrylic adhesive provides a combination of low tack (surface stickiness) and high adhesion.  This concept enables mounting operators to reduce job preparation time and achieve optimum plate registration for improved print quality.

printing process

During the print process the adhesive guarantees resistance against common solvents and edge lifting. The technical features of our plate mounting tapes helps avoid press downtime and provides more productivity in the press room.

plate demounting

Without a proper balance of low tack and high adhesion, plate removal often becomes a challenge as the risk of tearing and stretching the plate increases. For years, print operators have dealt with this issue by attempting to neutralize the adhesion of high tack, plate mounting tapes with shellac, baby powder, or other additives that reduce tack. This added step is a temporary solution and can lead to increased bubbles and plate lift, which results in higher process costs. Our SNAP-ON technology provides excellent peel adhesion which allows print operators to easily and cleanly remove the plate from the tape.

Proven Results

To prove the performance of our SNAP-ON technology we ran a combination print trials which included solids, screen, and line work motifs. The target was to reduce process complexity and achieve a more standardized production result by using several different colors with only one foam hardness.

flexographic print sample
flexographic print sample
lab results
Dot gain chart

Dot Gain Lab Test

The lab evaluation of the print samples showed that when using only one medium foam density we were still able to achieve consistent and high quality design elements for screen, solid, and line work motifs. Additionally, we measured low dot gain values with less than 20% on a 50% tonal value, providing excellent print results.

Consistent Results in Spite of Process Changes

SNAP-ON technology is a new generation of pressure-sensitive adhesives for plate mounting tape applications. Our adhesive technology benefits any flexographic printer that is searching for ways to optimize production, whether from processes like extended color gamut or other printing mechanisms. The results of using our adhesive tape technology is consistency that provides you peace of mind when implementing and improving print production. SNAP-ON technology is available in a wide range of product lines within our tesa Softprint® assortment for label and flexible packaging printers. The following products are our newest innovations which are equipped with SNAP-ON technology. To learn more about this technology or to request a print and tape sample please contact your local tesa® sales representative.