Revo is a project team of seven flexible packaging industry executives working together to drive flexography towards digital printing and converting. The Revo project team members started working together in December 2013, officially announcing the project in February of this year. The team has selected UV flexo, extended color gamut and digital process automation as the three technology drivers to support flexography to become digital and to maintain its role in the labels and packaging industries. 
“We want to create an industry move towards flexo digitalization,” states a Revo team member. “We share together all our latest innovation, our open and cooperative approach is the key to success.”
Every partner delivers a specific technical contribution to the project:
Niklas Olsson of Flint Group Narrow Web comments: “UV flexo is the ideal process to become digital. UV inks are inherently consistent as there is no VOC (volatile organic compound) evaporation to ‘disturb’ the printing process; furthermore, inks do not dry on the plates, so waste is reduced and quality consistency increases. UV flexo inks’ printing quality is superior to water- and solvent-based flexo inks, as less ink is transferred (ink is full solid, without VOCs). Dot gain is reduced and ink densities are higher. Revo process needs top printing quality and high color density to achieve the best performances. New-generation, low-migration UV flexo inks support the Revo Digital Flexo Revolution with high pigmentation, consistent ink transfer and consistent density properties, giving to Revo projects a wide range of graphic possibilities and excellent consistency performances.”
Dan Pulling of Esko adds: “Extended color gamut is the most logic solution for the flexo industry going digital. Seven inks always in the press. No need to change anilox or ink. No special colors, no color matching, no waste of substrate, no press down-time. Most PMS (Pantone Matching System) colors can be reproduced by printing seven colors on top of each other. With seven colors separation pre-press can digitally reproduce 90 to 95 percent of PMS colors. A new era can be predicted for flexo, fully integrated in a digital work flow, as it happens already with digital presses. The same file can be printed on a ‘digital,’ (or) digital flexo press, with consistent digital print quality and equivalent costs and productivity on both presses (flexo keeping a wider range of applications in medium to long runs). Revo technology also provides greater design flexibility, as the same job can be printed with virtually unlimited number of PMS colors. Or two or more jobs can be interlocked on the same web, with (totally) different PMS colors. Revo opens a wide range of new possibilities for graphic designers and production managers: wide flexibility in a digital Revo production flow.”
Friedrich Wolf of DuPont states: “New digital flexo plates allow for extreme consistency and print quality. New plate qualities and modified processing work flows result in high image resolution and excellent ink transfer. The solvent-free plate processing technology supports the environmental awareness of the Revo project. Fine screen rule of 80 lines per cm is the new standard, changing again the rules of our industry. The new-generation digital plates provide the requested quality, thus a wide gamut of PMS colors can be reproduced, without changing the inks in the press. The final printed quality is also more vibrant, with more (natural-looking) greens, reds, oranges and blues. New graphic opportunities to labels and packaging designers are available. Further to digital consistency and cost reduction, Revo technologies can reproduce ‘real colors,’ which could never be achieved before.”
Nick Harvey of Apex adds: “UV flexo ink and digital flexo plates deliver fantastic and consistent quality. But inconsistent ink transfer and inconsistency between anilox rollers might endanger the digital consistency of the Revo standards. In a seven-color separation, a key factor is to provide accurate consistency of the lay-down of the seven colors. New engraving technologies developed recently, resulting in the next-generation anilox rollers (that) are able to overcome some inconsistency of standard anilox designs. Revo standards need a predictable ink density which can be achieved, thanks to the scientifically designed open slalom ink channel geometry, which delivers an ink transfer with less than 1 percent tolerance. The next-generation technology provides fundamental contribution to the Revo digital new standards. A further advantage of Revo technology is that less ink transfer is needed to achieve the same level of opacity. By overlapping seven vignettes instead of using full solids, ink transfer is reduced, as well as ink consumption. Ink- and curing costs are reduced, and the whole PMS process is consistent and repeatable.”  
Federico d’Annunzio of Nuova GIDUE says: “Extensive digital automation in the printing press is needed to collect all the opportunities of the new Revo digital flexo process. On the printing and converting sections, servo motors and digital HD cameras substitute the eyes and the fingers of the operator with ‘digital eyes’ and ‘digital fingers.’ The new-generation presses exchange the print and die-cutting cylinders from ‘old’ to ‘new’ job fully automatically, without operator. Setup and production operations are digitally controlled, with very limited intervention from the operator, which becomes a production manager and a quality tutor on the press, as most of the operations are automated and digitally controlled. Digital automation in flexo presses completes the Revo digital chain from pre-press, to plates, to inks, to anilox and finally, to printing and converting, to achieve a full Revo digitalization of the flexo process”.
Marko Tiainen of UPM Raflatac comments: “The Revo Digital Flexo Revolution is setting a global standard, and this calls for consistency from all partners.  UPM Raflatac is an innovation-driven, front-running developer of self-adhesive label materials, and our proprietary production technologies guarantee the same consistency of surface quality and ink reception in every corner of the world. Among the benefits of Revo are cost efficiency and a reduction in waste, and our product development supports this with materials like those in our fit range, which are engineered for a more sustainable use of resources, cost efficiency and process efficiency, while retaining optimal performance. New substrates and printing technology are progressing in parallel with the same objectives.”
Daragh Whelan of Adare concludes: “If you can measure it, you can control it, and if you can control it you can reproduce it, and this is one of the many advantages Revo gives to the converter. Having digital control of all of our variables ensures brand consistency and enables Adare to emulate pantone shades out of seven colors. With Revo digitally optimized technologies, we are quicker to market and have also reduced the minimum order quantity for laminated flexible packaging products to as little as 5 kilos. It is like having a digital press with flexo costs.”
Revo Digital Flexo Revolution uses new software, hardware, UV flexo inks, digital plates, new-generation anilox rollers, seven colors separation, standardized substrates and digital automation on press exclusively provided by Revo members: Adare, Du Pont, Apex, Esko, Gidue, UPM Raflatac and Flint. Revo team members provide together an “off-the-shelf” solution to labels and packaging converters, with a defined protocol of consumables, software and hardware technologies, which allow from day one, immediate production using a Revo digitalized flexo process.
Revo Digital Flexo standards will be available to the entire flexo industry six months after the official presentation of the Revo project. Revo partners agree to promote an “industry move” of flexo towards the full digitalization of the process, and agree to share at a later stage all the standards and the protocols defined for the best performance of the Revo Digital Flexo Revolution. The Revo project standards will be open to all the flexographic industry players, who are willing to share the REVO Digital Flexo objectives.
Revo team members suggest the following list of main advantages for companies joining the Revo Digital Flexo Revolution:
Cost reduction: less substrate, inks and time are wasted for color matching in the press. Ninety to 95 percent of PMS palette is reproduced with seven fixed colors in the press. Less ink is needed to print solid colors, as only vignettes are used to reproduce heavy solids. Less substrate is wasted during set-up in the press due to digital automation, and more up-time of the press is achieved due to down-time reduction for color matching, print and die-cutting cylinders change, press setup and press inconsistency during production.
Consistency: most variables are digitalized during the whole “from pre-press to print” chain. PMS inks are substituted by seven fixed colors, operators skills are not required for color matching. UV flexo inks deliver consistent ink behavior in the press. Anilox rollers and inks are optimized for consistent performances. Digital automation on press greatly reduces the variables caused by operator’s skills.
Quality: seven colors separation-extended color gamut provide vibrant effects on pictures, more natural and realistic images. Eighty lines-per-cm screen count become standard, taking flexo to a higher print quality level.
Digital flexibility: the same file can be printed on a digital or a digital flexo press, with similar quality and costs. With extremely limited wastes and setup times on the press, production flow can be similar to a digital press, with frequent job changes, job interruptions and high flexibility in jobs planning.
Graphic flexibility: a single job can show a virtually unlimited number of PMS colors, without additional print stations: seven print stations are sufficient. Two or more jobs can be interlocked, for short-runs production needs, on the same web, even if with several and different PMS colors. Still, seven colors are considered sufficient.
A Revo Open House, at Gidue premises in Florence from June 10-12 2014, will introduce the Revo project to the labels and packaging market. Live demonstrations of the full Revo process will be performed, with the participation of all the Revo team members.
Nuova Gidue S.r.l.
+39 055 2020019