Flexo Press Make-Ready
Makeready is the time period between the completion of one job and when acceptable print quality is achieved on the next job. During makeready many activities take place including changing plates, changing inks, and making press adjustments such as proper registration and ink density to achieve acceptable print quality. Makeready may be a major source of waste as the press will be consuming input materials (e.g., paper, other substrates, ink, coatings) while not producing saleable product. Makeready times can last from a few minutes to many hours. Makeready can be conducted at low speeds or at press production speeds.
Best Management Practices & Pollution Prevention
Although makeready is a necessary step in preparing a press for production, the materials consumed and the resulting unusable printed products, are wastes. Makeready waste represents more than simply the unmarketable printed substrate. From a broader perspective, makeready waste includes the energy, press time, human resources and raw materials used to generate the pre-production printed substrate, as well as the costs for waste disposal. Minimizing makeready is essential for profitable printing.
Substrate is the largest input item that a printer buys and, along with labor and wasted press time, is one of the most expensive components of this work. The substrate wasted during makeready is frequently the largest source of waste for a printer. Having efficient, repeatable procedures for reaching quick registration and color matching, and operators who consistently apply the procedures minimizes makeready waste.
Some keys to reducing makeready time and waste include:
- Ensure that all tools, plates, inks, and substrate needed for the next job are ready and available prior to the end of the previous job
- If possible, schedule jobs that use the same inks back-to-back in order to avoid switching inks more often than necessary
- Document the press used and all press settings on the job jacket
- Have standard makeready procedures and follow them
- Adjust ink & water fountain settings
- to initial settings if job is a re-run
- to standard settings if job is a first run
- Maintain accurate plate-to-press registration
- Use industry-standard light sources for checking color match, and change lights at manufacturer-prescribed intervals.
Both during makeready and printing, printers need to know how much waste substrate is generated relative to the quality of acceptable product. Press counters are available, but under some circumstances, such as when a jam occurs on the press and the counter is not turned off, the count may be inaccurate. A more reliable method may be weighing discarded substrate and expressing the weight of waste as a percent of total substrate used.
For access to vendors who may supply alternative materials and equipment, see the PNEAC Vendor Directory.
There are no specific regulations that apply to makeready. All regulations that apply to the pressroom and the facility during production also apply during makeready. For example, the Clean Air Act and any requirements in a facility’s operating permit regulate air pollution emissions released during makeready as well as production. Makeready wastewater discharges are regulated by the Clean Water Act and any discharge permits issued to the printer, or any local discharge limits imposed by the sewer authority. Any waste generated needs to be evaluated to determine if it is hazardous and the proper management and disposal practices must be observed.