Education, Knowledge and Know-how

Everybody wants to reach a production process that is repeatable and of improved quality. One can do this by identifying the variables within the system and understanding their interactions in printing. This objective is attainable via educational activities in order to improve users technical know-how and allow a continuous update to the latest production techniques in flexography. A significative experience, gained over 30 years of activity, allows flexo•expert to be a competent partner to rely on, in case of educational, calibration and consultancy requirements within the flexographic printing process for packaging production.

Certified education

The educational activities offered by flexo•expert are supported by the 30+ years of experience of Stefano d’Andrea within the flexographic industry. Stefano is an industrial graphic expert who was acknowledged as Certified Implementation Specialist according to the FIRST (Flexographic Image Reproduction Specifications & Tolerances) program of FTA, the American Flexographic Technical Association. This important acknowledgement is given after the completion of 3 levels of in-depth training on the flexographic process that covers all aspects, starting from the communication between the customer, the prepress and the printing phases, up to the optimization and characterization methods of the flexographic printing system.

A winning method

Flexographic Image Reproduction Specifications & Tolerances (FIRST) supports the methodical approach to process control, optimization, fingerprinting, characterization and process improvement as outlined in CGATS TR 012-2003 (Graphic Technology – Color Reproduction and Process Control for Packaging Printing). While each organization may use its own workflow based upon its specific needs, there are certain fundamentals universal to the flexographic printing process that must be known for the system to be effective and produce quality and economic satisfaction. With a firm understanding and application of this methodology, and thanks to the educational program offered by flexo•expert, flexographers can:

  • identify potentially troublesome issues;
  • benchmark press performance;
  • utilize statistical analysis to maintain optimal conditions;
  • perform accurate device calibrations;
  • identify improvement opportunities;
  • preserve stable conditions for repeatable results

The training activities offered by flexo•expert comply with the FTA FIRST method, with the ISO standards relevant to the flexographic process and with the Guidelines and specifications suggested by Atif ( to guarantee a level of professionalism appropriate to the modern needs of packaging printing in flexography.

Training courses

Educational and technical training activities are addressed to packaging printers (flexible packaging, labels and corrugated), platemaking companies, repro studios and graphic designers, manufacturers and distributors of printing presses and related technologies, graphic schools and trade associations, brand owners. All educational activities are conducted by Stefano d’Andrea, graphic arts expert and FIRST Implementation Specialist, Level III (Certificate #ISC0183), certified by the Flexographic Technical Association (FTA), the world’s leading professional society dedicated to the advancement of the flexographic printing process.

On-Line Basic Training
Learn flexography from your screen as if you were in the classroom, directly from flexo•training

Advanced and Customisable Training
Dedicated to the advanced users who need to dig into more technical information about the entire flexographic process.
Educational activity can be customised and include:

  • detailed description of every component in the printing group and their variables,
  • our interaction with color reproduction, from perception, through measurement and management in prepress
  • complete step-by-step description of the system calibration with optimization, fingerprint and characterization.

Introduction to packaging printing
Segmentation of printed products and placement of packaging. Characteristics and historical evolution of packaging and printed reproduction needs.

Flexography among printing systems for packaging
Classification of printing systems based on the characteristics of the printing form and the ink restraint. Relief, planographic, engraving, permeographic systems and non-impact printing systems. Analysis and characteristics of the printing group, the structure of the printing presses, the products with reference to the packaging sector, the types of substrates and inks used in the printing systems for packaging: letterpress, offset, rotogravure, screen printing, digital and flexography.

Birth and evolution of Flexography
A dive into the past, from aniline printing to the birth of the flexographic printing system with the main innovations that have characterized the evolution of flexography up to the present day.

Flexo Presses
Types of flexographic printing presses and their structure based on the arrangement of the printing units, size, type of application and products.
Characteristics and operation of the main sections of the printing press.

Anilox roll
Characteristics of the heart of the flexographic printing system: the concepts of cell-count and volume. Origin, evolution of structure and construction method of anilox rolls.
Laser engraving on ceramics and engraving geometries. Ink transfer efficiency and screen/volume ratio associated with the characteristics of the printing plate. Control of engraving characteristics and cleaning systems.

Ink metering
Ink metering systems and doctoring ink on anilox roll. Characteristics of the doctor blade: contact area and angle, profiles and materials.
Closed chamber metering systems, accessories and suggestions for correct use.

Flexographic inks
Types of flexographic inks and differences on dry printed residue. Solvent-based and water-based ink systems, UV inks and electron beam. The opacity of the ink: thickness and concentration. Components and characteristics: pigments and color index, resins and applications, solvents, importance of pH in water-based inks, additives. Viscosity and its measurement and control. Anilox volume and ink quantity.

Ink formulation
Create colors in separation or by formulation. Preparation of sample colors: methods and tools. Requirements for inks in packaging printing. Migration phenomena.

Flexographic printing plates
Types of printing plates and evolution of plate production methods: hand carving, vulcanized rubber, liquid resin, sheet photopolymers. Characteristics of printing plates: thickness, hardness, surface texture. Imaging methods: conventional and digital systems. Relief revelation: solvent, water, thermal, direct engraving. Stages of photopolymer processing, polymerization process.
Plates with round top or flat top. Checking and measuring the plates before production. Compatibility with solvents used in the press room.

Cylinders and sleeves for plate mounting
Printing repeat and rotation tolerances. Relevant parameters in gear-driven and gearless systems. Sleeve mounting systems, operating characteristics and reference dimensions. Impression settings, plate package squeeze factor and mounting diameter sizing. Synchronicity of the rolling contact and defects related to slurring.

Mounting systems for flexographic plates
Characteristics of the different plate mounting systems for flexographic applications. Double-sided adhesive systems, characteristics and properties.
Printing impression settings and tolerances. Practical suggestions for plate mounting and use of double-sided adhesives.

Substrate and printability
Classification of print substrates by origin, structure and opacity. Characteristics of paper, plastic and aluminum substrates. Examples of external and internal printing.
Contact with ink: absorption, surface tension, corona treatment, humidity. Corrugated carton and pre/post-print application. Mechanical tension of the substrates in reel.

Packaging, environment and safety
Packaging substrates and the environment: biodegradability, compostability and recyclability. Aspects of food contact and the role of the European food safety authority.

Graphic reproduction principles
From real-life image to printed reproduction: use of halftones to reproduce tonal values by exploiting the limits of human vision. Image screening, dot shapes and screen types. Angles of flexo printing screens. Image resolution.

Color and perception
Characteristics of light and color, how the human visual system works. Color models, additive and subtractive synthesis, function of inks in printing. Lighting and vision conditions. Behavior and limits of human vision.

Color measurement
How color is described and measured. Hue, saturation, lightness and CIELab color model. Optical density and its measurement. Tonal values and measurement in MD and SCTV. Spectrophotometric measurement and dE color difference.

Color management
Color spaces, gamuts and profiles. From original image to CMYK separation, color generation modes and definition of output intent. Adaptations to specific printing conditions.

ISO norms about flexography
International standards, guidelines and publications about flexography. Main aspects of the ISO norms 12647-6, 20654, 15339, TS10128.

Perceived quality and measured calibration
Meaning of quality in printed production as a function of resolution and color. The era of packaging, changes and market trends. The observer’s reactivity towards color, shape and print contrast. The concepts of stability, repeatability and predictability related to the quality of the printing system.

Introduction to System calibration
Introduction to the calibration process for flexographic printing system. Phases of calibration: optimization, fingerprint, process control, charcacterisation, improvement. Analysis of complete workflow of operations.

Goals to achieve, variables to be analyzed and types of optimization. Ink layer lay-down and uniformity with reference to the anilox roll and the printing plate characteristics. Reproduction of graphic elements and management of the tonal values increase in printing. Optimization with the banded anilox roll. Color references for individual colors.

Objectives to be achieved, method and variables to be analyzed. Graphic elements for the control of gray, register, lines and texts, trap and trapping. Definition of the screening angles. Color sequence. Gray balance calibration. Analysis and evaluation.

Definition of the process, purposes and methods of execution. Pitfalls in the process and the risk of failure. The management of characterization data as a reference for printing and pre-printing.

Roles of players in production
Flexographic workflow for the production of printed packaging. Analysis of functions, activities and responsibilities of the final customer, design, prepress and printing.

Tasks and responsibilities of design for flexography. Layout and graphics, number and type of colors. Specify CMYK and special colors. Characteristics of the graphic elements: texts, lines, barcodes, traps, control elements. Types of proofs and file sharing formats.

Prepress graphic workflow starting from the arrival of a new job order. Files ready for printing or to be converted to a specific output intent. Adjusting color reproduction according to ISO TS 10128: tone curves, gray balance, repurposing via color profiles. Prepress techniques to improve quality and limit possible printing problems. Manage the fixed palette in CMYK or extended gamut.
Set print layout for plate output: layout arrangements, distortion of photopolymers. Contract color proof.

Plate preparation for flexo and calibration of platemaking process
Imaging and reproducing graphic elements on flexo plate surface. Methods of plate production and processing phases in photopolymer platemaking. Calibration procedure for platemaking: processing, back-exposure, main exposure. Methods to produce flat-top plates. Calibration of CtP with ablative plates and setting bump curve values. Define optimal drying time and post-treatment settings. Aspects of direct laser engraving. Control values on plates.

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