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Throwback Thursday: CyberXtend Then vs. Now

This June, Cyber Graphics was proud to celebrate ten years of success with CyberXtend, our expanded gamut process. Here's a quick look into the history of CyberXtend, from initial planning to implementation to adjusting for advancements in technology to beyond.

Expanded gamut printing in flexography isn’t new news. Adding additional colors to the usual cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK) is no longer a novelty, but a necessity. It opens unlimited color options for designers, cuts down waste in the press room, and allows jobs to be combined so that printers have more flexibility with their schedules. Cyber Graphics has been working with expanded gamut printing for over ten years, and our recent developments in profiling and plate technology have really pushed CyberXtend to the next level.  

In May of 2004, Kevin Bourquin (Prepress Manager - Memphis) led Cyber's expanded gamut efforts by challenging the company to look at expanded gamut in a new light. “Cyber wanted to develop an expanded gamut process with print in mind,” remembers Kevin, who was the Color Manager at the time. “What was the point of offering a service that sacrificed print quality to achieve a larger gamut? I knew Cyber needed to go above and beyond so we could really offer the value our customers wanted in an efficient, print-friendly way.” Initially, the biggest goal was to encourage running jobs in combination, which would reduce previously required preparation steps on the printer’s side and ultimately reduce turnaround time. Cyber quickly realized that this approach was a strong start, but we wanted to challenge ourselves to produce a quality product. "We wanted to make an expanded gamut plan that would remain consistent across multiple converters, and from there, more goals came," explains Kevin. "We wanted a single set of anilox rolls, a single set of inks, and a willingness to embrace process control. We wanted to be able to achieve more vibrant designs with more realistic images. We wanted to offer better color transitions and to remove detail loss/substrate influence from the equation. Finally, we wanted to make the process as sustainable as possible." After a year of development, in June of 2005, Cyber's first production run that transitioned an entire customer’s line from conventional print to 7-color print, launching CyberXtend into existence.

This process worked well for some time, but as Cyber continued to strive to offer the highest quality products, change became necessary. We focused a great deal on ink and how it dries and applies on press, and in 2006, we transitioned to our own custom made Super Base ink set. This helped us achieve higher densities without changing anilox rolls and without affecting drying properties. Ultimately, this let us increase the gamut by observing and testing how things ran and performed as our run speed increased. We had a solid six years running exclusively with the Super Base ink set, which taught us how to transition the old process and line jobs into expanded gamut jobs very efficiently. This ultimately prepared Cyber for the next big change: flat top plates.

Flat top technology was introduced in 2012, and while it only expanded the color gamut by about 10%, it allowed Cyber to make the process more consistent and efficient. Using flat top dots, we were able to lay down our new ink set more consistently. We were able to make the process more stable and us create strict rules for our color recipes. This greatly reduced room for errors caused by run length and dot gain while greatly strengthening consistency from roll to roll.

Cyber continued to develop CyberXtend so that we could offer our customers the best products. After flat top technology was implemented, Cyber spent two years designing custom profile software and characterization charts while analyzing our printing results. In June of 2014, the next step in the process was unveiled: CyberHD. HD jobs take CyberXtend to the next level: we are able to lay down thinner ink films, which increase drying time and encourages a more even ink distribution. HD also allows us to have rounder, more consistent highlight dots that further stabilizes dot gain. Finally, HD plates also make images look sharper because of the increase in resolution and line screens.

Today, we here at Cyber continue to offer top notch expanded gamut work with CyberXtend by going the extra mile to ensure accuracy and consistency. Our proofing system ensures that our data collection and modeling is an advanced and accurate method that produces predictable results. Our spot builds are created with a focus on color accuracy and print stability so that the first impression of a job looks just as good as the last impression. We encourage continuous improvement through process control and analysis of print performance while ensuring our plates maintain the highest level of quality. Cyber Graphics has successfully developed an expanded gamut system that insures consistency across substrate, shape, and printing processes, and the industry recognizes it- just last week at the FTA Fall Conference, Kevin was acknowledged as one on the industry leading experts in expanded gamut technology. We've had numerous articles published in Flexo Magazine, have led numerous conferences, and are frequently asked to speak on our color expertise. If you look at the shelves, you will see that our pillow bags (that were printed with flexography) perfectly match their paperboard containers (that were printed with lithography), which perfectly match the corresponding stand up pouches (that were printed by a separate printer). CyberXtend has been producing quality products for the past ten years, and we’re excited to show what it will offer in the future.

Today, over 5,000 jobs across multiple printers successfully produced with CyberXtend. Shouldn’t yours be next? Contact us.

This fall, Kevin Bourquin has been asked to participate in multiple color theory related conferences to discuss expanded gamut, profiling, color profiling, and more. He just returned from the FTA Fall Conference, where he was excited to join both theoretical and application experts as they followed the process of a job from start to finish, which they were able to explain and validate using real world data. On Wednesday, November 18th, he will be in Clemson, South Carolina for the Expanded Color Gamut Seminar, a hands on approach towards expanded gamut that involves theoretical sessions that are put into practice by building curves, profiles, file separations, and finally, printing live jobs. Kevin will be speaking on profiling, design considerations, and profile making. This seminar will be a great way to gain hands on knowledge, no matter if you're a designer, a consumer product company, or a printer. He would be pleased to answer any questions you have.

For more information on what CyberXtend can do for you, check our our Prepress Department here.

Posted by Kaitlin Edwards at 10:00 AM