The need for modeling the Flexographic plate imaging process stems from the fact that it is fundamentally different from the lithographic plate imaging currently done. In flexographic imaging, the dot is physically built up as a 3-D structure within a thick material. The complex interaction of the laser beam with the material is not well known. Additionally, the photo-chemistry of the flexo material is different than lithographic plates. Among others, the role of oxygen is one parameter known to be critical in flexographic image formation. Since the standard flexographic process (exposure by a lamp projecting through the film) is so fundamentally different from a laser exposure which carries the digital image information, standard flexographic imaging models - which are very often rather rudimentary parametric based models - are of little help.
Viewing the above, a comprehensive simulation model describing the 3-D interaction between the UV light and the material is needed. It is crucial to the success of this project that we have the ability to predict the behavior of the polymer under different imaging conditions. This model will allow us to find the optimal illumination beam for the flexographic plate to obtain a certain 3-D structure. The ability to generate structures with a well (pre)defined geometry is indispensable to ensure high quality printing. This optimal illumination beam should then be translated into a certain imaging architecture.
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