Label and packaging production is a world of “we need-it-yesterday” deadlines and escalating demands for print quality. Yet, while newer flexo presses and plates have raised the bar on print quality, the manual prepress operations that once ensured on-time delivery have not always stepped up to the demands of shorter runs and tighter deadlines.
Going beyond design
Adobe Illustrator™ is the go-to tool for most of today’s package designs, but is only the starting point: a lot more work is required before these designs are print-ready production jobs. Wide adoption of PDF has simplified prepress for both flexo and digital jobs, but it still needs to be carefully managed and controlled. PDF is easily extracted from Illustrator designs, keeping designs, fonts, and images in a single compact file that is easy to transport and works with the RIPs used for flexo, CTP and digital printing. But this is only the first step.
Leveraging the strength of PDF for packaging prepress requires more power. Two products from HYBRID Software, PACKZ and CLOUDFLOW, are built to help label and packaging shops deliver consistent quality in demanding production environments. Have a look.
First up is PACKZ, a powerful editor that uses a 64-bit architecture to deliver a complete set of prepress, editing, and quality assurance tools. It provides preflight and file correction, color mapping, separation handling, barcode creation and recognition, trapping, variable data, step and repeat, object-based screening, and more. In step with the demands of the latest packaging styles, PACKZ can warp a design to compensate for shrink sleeve distortion and render an accurate 3-D representation prior to printing, so you know what you will get. PACKZ accepts native Adobe Illustrator files as well as industry-standard PDF files. Moreover, it has a seamless interface with OpenColor, a powerful color management tool from GMG Color that supports color mapping and conversion to Extended Color Gamut (ECG) color spaces like CMYKOGV. The combination of PACKZ and OpenColor can provide accurate, color-managed files to state-of-the-art platesetters such as Xeikon’s ThermoflexX series as well as many digital presses.
Still, editing the design file is only part of the process, and the pace of today’s production demands favor automation. Meeting this need is CLOUDFLOW, a web-based automated server solution for file and asset management, soft proofing, collaboration, and workflow automation. CLOUDFLOW uses a packaging-specific version of the Harlequin Host Renderer (the world’s fastest RIP) which is used in HP-Indigo digital presses for labels, packaging and commercial printing. CLOUDFLOW supports major industry standards like CIP3, PDF, XMP and many others to help simplify the transition from manual workflows to full automation.
Modern PDF-native software such as PACKZ and CLOUDFLOW provide packaging printers and converters with the efficient tools they need today. Take a closer look at what HYBRID Software has to offer so you can be prepared for changes that can leave you behind—or position you to lead.Learn More About Hybrid Software
>> This post is part 1 of our Digital Portfolio series. To learn more about the entire workflow, check out our spread in the November edition of Flexo Magazine.