Strategic Partnership Seeks to Disrupt Flexographic Printing Industry

18 September 2017

CAMBRIDGE, UNITED KINGDOM – Apex International, a global anilox and metering solutions provider, and Hamillroad Software Limited, a UK based software company specializing in pre-press solutions, announce the formation of Aniken Graphics International, a joint venture created to bring Bellissima Digitally Modulated Screening into the flexographic mainstream.

Developed by Hamillroad, Bellissima Digitally Modulated Screening (DMS) is the company’s award-winning screening solution for flexographic printing. Bellissima’s patented technology has been fully optimized to work at 4,000 dpi on industry standard equipment allowing printers to achieve a high level of detail & quality of print normally associated with gravure and offset, typically 300-450 lpi. In addition to the image reproduction fidelity benefits, Bellissima DMS drives impressive benefits for the business.

“Bellissima is transformative technology.” Says Andy Cave, CEO of Hamillroad, the original creator and Chief Designer of the Harlequin RIP and founding member of Harlequin Limited (now Global Graphics Software Limited).

Cave continues: “We’ve eliminated moiré, the highlight dots are down to 1% and the shadow dots are up to 99.5% meaning beautifully smooth vignettes that fade to zero are a reality. A printer can breathe new life into their existing printing press using Bellissima; we significantly reduce common machine issues including bounce, barring and slur – features which are all patented in Bellissima. The benefits don’t stop there. Bellissima is helping printers save between 5-10% on ink, reduce make-ready times, and creates a solid foundation for the implementation of fixed palette printing.”

As a result of the partnership, Apex International has been granted distribution rights to Bellissima worldwide following their launch event at LabelExpo Europe 2017. For its part, Apex has aligned considerable commercial resources to support the partnership and their customers.

“Distribution has always been part of our long-term strategy at Apex.” says Doug Jones, Vice President of Marketing at Apex International. “For us, it is not just about selling anilox rolls and sleeves. It’s about delivering a total solution from wet-end to pre-press side to the printers we serve. So, when we have the privilege to align with like-minded companies like Hamillroad and we have the opportunity to deliver even greater value to our customers, we’re excited to be able to do that.”

“When we looked at the value our customers see with Apex anilox solutions, particularly our GTT anilox products, and we compared those with the value realized by integrating Bellissima into the printing process, we knew the two products combined would naturally provide better printing results for our customers,” says Nick Harvey, newly appointed Managing Director of Aniken. “Bellissima was developed and fine-tuned using GTT, so not only can our customers consistently see print quality results that exceed gravure and offset, but they can do so for a fraction of the cost allowing flexographers to gain significant competitive advantages especially with shorter runs.”

“We are extremely excited about our partnership with Apex. Their global sales network and marketing are well-established strengths at Apex and combining Bellissima with the standardization and consistency of their GTT anilox technology has produced considerable benefits for our mutual customers. For those reasons Apex was the natural choice for a distribution partner.” says Cave.

Hamillroad will be exhibiting alongside Apex International at LabelExpo Europe 2017, September 25-28, Brussels Expo Stand 11B20 and 11B22.

Bellissima DM Screening

Digitally Modulated Screening for Flexo Printing

Bellissima (Italian for most beautiful) DMS is Hamillroad’s Digitally Modulated Screening for Flexo. Bellissima DMS, the ultimate in flexographic screening, delivers a previously unobtainable level of image reproduction for flexo. Rivaling the quality of print typically associated with offset and gravure, Bellissima DMS is challenging digital as the future for flexible packaging and labels.

Innovative flexo technology

Bellissima Digitally Modulated Screening utilizes innovative technology that’s a fusion of the best characteristics of AM, FM, XM, GS and CS screening while avoiding their limitations and problems. It dramatically enhances the quality and stability of flexo presswork.

Digital modulation (DM)

This unique screening digitally modulates every pixel it produces thereby precisely controlling the dots in each separation while its “stochastic rosette” interleaves the screens in the separations to eliminate noise and moiré. In addition, the stochastic rosette maximises the ink-on-paper area and minimizes the amount of ink-on-ink, to expand the available color gamut while eliminating color shifts due to misregistration.

The screening analyzes each pixel to ensure that no dot is too small to plate or print but is not large enough to be visible. Dots are created in a carefully controlled manner, to ensure detail is placed exactly where it is needed, vignettes are smooth and flat tints are ‘flat.’ The result is a quality of print, particularly on flexible substrates, that was previously unobtainable.

Overcoming flexo printing press machine problems

Bellissima DM Screening helps to extend the life of a flexographic printing press. Using Bellissima’s patented dots, common printing problems including bounce, barring, and slur are significantly reduced and, in some instances, completely eliminated.

With ever shorter run lengths, the ability to match and even exceed the print quality of gravure, Bellissima DMS will allow us in the flexo printing industry to meet the ever-increasing demands of brand owners for higher quality print at an economic cost.Nick Smith, Managing Director, Parkside Flexibles, UK

Watch our ‘Getting Dotty About Spots’ video below to learn more about DMS:

We were the first in the world to test Bellissima and the first time it went onto press, we knew this would be the screening that changed the flexo industry. As Bellissima has evolved it has gone beyond just improving print quality by addressing problems inherent to the flexo process.Gavin Jones, Technical Director, Syreline Process, South Africa

Bellissima DMS Highlights

  • High-quality prints equivalent to 350 – 450 lpi (4000 dpi)
  • Stable ‘flexo dots’ that prevent partial/broken dots
  • Moiré free – both screening and subject
  • Highlight dots down to 1.0%
  • Shadow dots up to 99.5%
  • Vignettes that fade smoothly to nothing (no hard breaks)
  • Smooth flat tints for ‘perfect’ 4 color process printing
  • Solid object protection
  • High solid ink densities via 100% solid surface patterning options
  • No color shifts with misregistration
  • Reduced bounce, barring and slur
  • Large 20 – 25 (actually 40 x 20 – 50 x 25 and larger) micron dot
  • Retains input image detail of 450-600 dpi images
Bellissima Digitally Modulated Screening
Conventional Screening

See before & after comparisons here
Bellissima DMS News
Bellissima DMS Press Coverage
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Visit our Bellissima DMS microsite:

Bellissima DMS for Best Flexo Printing

Patent Information

Protected by the following patents:

  • UK Patent 2473475
  • UK Patent 2473476
  • US Patent 8,654,400
  • US Patent 8,654,401
  • US Patent 9,508,031
  • US Patent 9,787,872
  • Chinese Patent ZL201080051176.X
  • Other patents pending
Removing a key barrier to “fixed palette” print success
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Compared with AM Screening

Bellissima DM Screening uses specially shaped dots that, like an AM screen, minimize problems with dot gain variation and are easy to control on press. However, unlike an AM screen, Bellissima DMS does not suffer from problems such as highlight dot loss, moiré or lack of image detail.

Compared with FM Screening

Like an FM screen, Bellissima DM Screening produces a stunning level of image detail, equivalent to 350-450 lpi for offset printers. However, unlike an FM screen, Bellissima DMS does not suffer from problems such as noisy flat screen tints and variability on plate and press.

Compared with XM (hybrid) Screening

Bellissima DM Screening precisely controls the size of its highlight and shadow dots which, like an XM screen, enables retention of a full tone range of 0-100%. However, unlike an XM screen, Bellissima DMS does not suffer from problems such as moiré, or noisy flat tints and color shifts with misregistration.

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Bellissima, DM Screening and DMS are trademarks of Hamillroad Software Limited.
All other names are trademarks of their respective organisations.