Asahi Announces New AFP-Leggero Flexo Plate For Corrugated Board Applications

Super-soft and smooth plate results in no board crush, fewer flute marks, good ink density, for the ultimate in post-print flexographic quality

Tokyo, Japan & Brussels, Belgium, March 26, 2020 – Asahi Photoproducts, a pioneer in flexographic photopolymer plate development, today announced the availability of a brand-new flexographic plate. Asahi AFP™-Leggero CleanPrint plates have been specifically designed for printing on lower quality low-liner corrugated board. This super-soft plate delivers kiss-touch printing without board crush, good ink density with reduced washboard effect, and is ideal for simple brown-box corrugated applications such as fruit trays and single-color logo type printing.

“With the growing use of corrugated board packaging around the globe, brands and retailers increasingly seek ways to increase quality appearance and protect their goods at the same time,” said Dieter Niederstadt, Asahi Photoproducts’ Technical Marketing Manager. “Asahi’s AFP™-Leggero flexographic printing plates deliver both higher quality and better protection of the product by not damaging the corrugated box flute structure. This is a very new approach inside Asahi, not only to focus on print quality aspects, but also to add value for protection of the packaged goods. Our ‘Just Kiss. No Crush.’ tagline reinforces this quality and protective result delivered by Asahi AFP™-Leggero CleanPrint plates. In addition, as with all of our CleanPrint plates, the Leggero plates ensure less waste, fewer press stops for plate cleaning and consistent exceptional quality throughout the run, the hallmark of Asahi’s CleanPrint flexo plates. We expect packaging converters will be able to achieve up to 15% improvement in Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) when they use these plates for corrugated post-print, delivering a solution in harmony with the environment.”

CleanPrint plates from Asahi Photoproducts have been specifically engineered to transfer all remaining ink to the printed substrate. The AFP™-Leggero CleanPrint effect is achieved because of the soft plate base material. The result is very clean printing. Another important benefit of Asahi’s CleanPrint plates, including AFP™-Leggero, is that they do not need to be cleaned as often as conventional digital solvent plates. Reduction of plate cleaning stops creates a significant productivity improvement as well as more consistent quality.

“With AFP™-Leggero’s soft-touch kiss printing,” Niederstadt added, “not only is the historical problem of board crush and washboarding virtually eliminated due to the softness of this plate, but there is also virtually no dot bridging and good ink laydown. That means that areas of solid colour as well as highlight areas are clean and crisp, as are fine lines and smaller type. This is the ideal plate for corrugated board post-print and will enable packaging converters to broaden the range of applications they can produce for customers, especially those that are not willing to sacrifice quality.”

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ASAHI PHOTOPRODUCTS TO DEMONSTRATE NEW WATER RECYCLING UNIT AT DRUPA 2020

New Asahi solution reduces platemaking waste water usage by 80%, using no solvents in the washout process, and bringing flexo platemaking more in harmony with the environment.

Asahi will be located in hall 5 C41 at drupa 2020.

Tokyo, Japan & Brussels, Belgium, 30. January 2020 –Asahi Photoproducts, a pioneer in flexographic photopolymer plate development, today announced the latest development in its CleanPrint strategy, a water recycling unit incorporated in new Asahi platemaking systems as a standard feature. This recycling unit uses 2 litres of water per square meter, versus 10 litres in units without the recycling unit, a reduction in platemaking waste water of 80%! In addition, minimal waste from the system, in the form of dry cake and a highly concentrated liquid extract, can be incinerated, with the liquid contributing to the cooling of the incineration plant, resulting in even more water savings. Existing Asahi platemaking systems can be retrofitted with the recycling unit so that all Asahi platemaking processes are more in harmony with the environment.

“As we have done for the past 45 years, we continue to look for ways to make the flexo printing process more efficient and in harmony with the environment while also improving overall effectiveness,” said Dieter Niederstadt, Asahi Photoproducts’ Technical Marketing Manager. “This latest improvement pushes flexographic printing into an even more environmentally balanced position, preserving precious water resources while maintaining the quality and efficiency our customers have come to expect. It’s another important strategic element of Asahi’s CleanPrint technology.

CleanPrint flexographic plates from Asahi Photoproducts have been specifically engineered by Asahi’s chemical engineers to transfer all remaining ink to the printed substrate, reducing makeready time and press cleaning stops as compared to other platemaking systems while delivering exceptional quality. Asahi CleanPrint flexographic plates are also ideal for fixed colour palette printing, a method that is increasingly being adopted to save time and money while still delivering the quality brands expect. This is made possible by the precise registration of Asahi CleanPrint plates.

Visitors to the Asahi stand at drupa 2020 will be able to get a first look at the new recycling unit to learn more about how it works, its environmental benefits, and the ease with which Asahi platemaking systems can be incorporated into any flexographic workflow with significant time to market and OEE benefits.

“We have even more on our agenda to introduce at drupa 2020,” Niederstadt adds. “Our goal is to continue to bring improved flexographic platemaking solutions to market that position flexo even more competitively with other printing technologies, continuing to grow its market share in packaging printing around the globe.”

 

Techkon – Make The Switch

Are You Ready to Make the Switch? We Make it Easy

Let’s face it, the “switch” is on! At Techkon, they live it, breath it, and sell it every day. Printers in all markets and of all sizes are making the switch from other color management devices and software to newer Techkon solutions. We could go on and on and explain all of the reasons like more innovative products, unlimited customer support, and dedicated customer support. However, that’s not what this blog is about. Instead, this blog is to explain how Techkon can help you make the “switch”. Printers are thrilled to learn about the advantages of Techkon products, but to some, making the “switch” sometimes seems like a daunting task. So, here are the 3 top reasons why some customers dread making the “switch” and how Techkon can make it far easier than you might have imagined.

Customer Worry #1 – Will those new Techkon devices measure the same way as my current color management devices?

Solution – It turns out that Techkon devices are manufactured to be traceable to the same industry standards as other popular color management devices. As a result, new SpectroDens instruments measure almost as close to a competing device as they do to each other. This is big news and this means you don’t have to worry any more about scenarios where (1) color standards were originally created with a competing device or (2) using a mixture of a competing device and SpectroDens instruments across your color production workflow.

Customer Worry #2 – What about all my instruments and software that already have all of my color standards loaded into them?

Solution – No worries! Techkon is here to help and can migrate all of your color standards for you. This is part of the service you can expect from Techkon when making the “switch”. Their color experts can export your color standards out of your current software systems and install them in your new Techkon hardware and software so you don’t have to worry about this one. In fact, if they can get your color standards ahead of time, and can even install them on any new instruments you purchase before it’s shipped out to you! How’s that for easy?

Customer Worry #3 – How am I going to train everyone on using new Techkon hardware and software products?

Solution – First, Techkon designs all of its’ products to be intuitive and easy to use. This is their first design principle and they strive for excellence here. Second, Techkon offers unlimited technical support on their products. Your satisfaction and delight using our products and services is truly their goal here. Techkon offers remote, live training services, video tutorials, and telephone support until your team is fully trained and you are comfortable waving goodbye to your old tools. That’s their promise to you.

Hamilton Adhesive Labels Reduces Makeready Time By 30% With Asahi AWP

Incredibly Consistent Technology and World-Class Quality

Tokyo/Brussels, 23 September 2019 – Asahi Photoproducts, a pioneer in flexographic photopolymer plate development, today reported that Hamilton Adhesive Labels Ltd., a leading converter of printed and plain labels for the food & drink, industrial, automotive, personal and household care markets with an annual turnover in excess of £12 million, has chosen Asahi AWP™ water-washable flexographic plates with CleanPrint. Hamilton operates from a 40,000 square foot manufacturing and warehousing facility centrally located in Bardon, Leicestershire, with a dedicated team of more than 65 people focused on product and service excellence.

Upon joining the company in 2016, Operations Director Paul Larkin, an industry veteran with more than 44 years of experience, was tasked with helping to make the business more sustainable and to identify low-cost changes that could have high productivity impact using his Measurement and Control philosophy, designed to deliver a predictive system that ensures “right first time” performance with world-class quality. He then formed a Formula One (F1) pit stop team tasked with optimizing productivity based on the new predictive system. He states, “Unless you can demonstrate a level of quality, the market is limited for any company.” Over his first year, Larkin examined every phase of the flexographic printing process, including flexographic plates, seeking ways he could improve it.

Larkin tested a wide variety of flexographic plates in his search for the perfect plate, testing them with thousands of meters of print. The ultimate choice was the Asahi AWP™ water-washable plates with Asahi CleanPrint, provided via the company’s repro house partner, Creation Reprographics.

“There is nothing out there like the Asahi AWP™ plates,” Larkin states. “They deliver a great tonal range and the dots are very stable.” He notes that ink on standard flexographic plates can be drawn to the shoulder of the dot, which can have a significant impact on running speed with frequent plate cleaning stops. “Using Asahi AWP™ plates with CleanPrint, it is completely different,” he explains. “The ink is somehow drawn to the tip of the dot, and the press is able to print continually without stopping for plate cleaning. It’s an incredibly consistent technology with world-class quality. It’s been a vital element of our quest to ‘get print right the first time!’”

Award Winning Performance

Not only has the company achieved a reduction in makeready time following its conversion to Asahi AWP™ plates with CleanPrint, but quality was also significantly improved as evidenced by awards its output has achieved. These include an EFIA Gold Award in the promotional category for a Crystal London label and the two Flexotech awards Best Print and Supreme (Best in Show) Awards. “This is the first time we have won this king of awards,” Larkin proudly reports. In presenting the award for Best Print, the judges stated, “Incredible vignettes to paper white, smallest dots ever seen in flexo, sharp text and high colour density. A superb promoter of flexo.” This praise was echoed in the judges’ statement with regard to the Supreme (Best in Show) Award: “We’ve been impressed at first glance; and the more we were checking the quality, the more we were convinced to be looking at a really ‘first in class’ piece of work.”

Benefits Of Asahi CleanPrint

Asahi CleanPrint is designed to facilitate kiss touch printing pressure. Lighter printing pressure ensures constant repeatability of printing quality during the production run as well as longer plate life. This characteristic is achieved with unique Asahi-engineered photopolymer chemistry that reduces the surface energy of the printing plate and enables better ink transfer to the substrate during printing.

CleanPrint has the beneficial effect of reducing ink filling in the mid-tone area during the printing run, leading to fewer cleaning intervals and shorter press downtime for a highly sustainable flexographic printing process. Dr. Dieter Niederstadt, Asahi’s Technical Marketing Manager, notes, “Our customers, including Hamilton Adhesive Labels, are ecstatic about the quality of print they can deliver while also benefiting from reduced makeready time and improvement in OEE.”

Bright Future Ahead

Larkin sees a bright future for Hamilton Adhesive Labels and for the industry at large. “At Hamilton,” he says, “the combination of high quality printing components, including plates, inks and more, in combination with a sustainable company culture that operates from a Measure and Control philosophy with dedicated and talented employees on our F1 team, is driving the quality and price/performance of label manufacturing beyond that of any other printing technology available in the market. We are pleased to be working with Creation Reprographics and Asahi Photoproducts as critical partners that are helping us achieve our goals, win those prestigious awards, and look ahead to even more advances in the future.”

Asahi CleanPrint – Clean and in balance with the environment

Re-post from asahi-photoproducts.com

As regulatory agencies around the world place more stringent focus on environmental sustainability, Asahi Photoproducts continues to innovate platemaking technology with a solution that aims to produce plates in an office-type environment, processing photopolymer reducing VOC’s into the atmosphere. CleanPrint plates use less ink, emitting fewer VOCs in the pressroom. There is less makeready waste and waste due to plate cleaning press stops, adding even more environmental sustainability to the process. And more efficient throughput means less energy consumption. Not only does this help with regulatory compliance, it creates a safer, cleaner work environment for employees.

In fact, CleanPrint plates can be produced in an office-type environment, processing photopolymer without introducing VOC’s into the atmosphere.

GOLDEN ERA RECOGNIZED WITH AWARD FROM FLEXOGRAPHIC TECHNICAL ASSOCIATION OF SOUTH AFRICA, USING ASAHI AFP-TOP PLATES

Re-Post from Asahi-Photoproducts.com

Tokyo, Japan & Brussels, Belgium, December 14, 2015 – Asahi Photoproducts, a pioneer in flexographic photopolymer plate development, is pleased to announce that its customer, Golden Era, is a 2015 recipient of the Flexographic Technical Association of South Africa’s (FTASA) Best of Show Print Excellence Award. The company was recognized for packaging it produced for Kellogg’s Coco Pops using Asahi AFP-TOP plates. Asahi customers walked away with a total of seven awards.

The FTASA Print Excellence Awards have been held in South Africa since 1997; first under the auspices of the Institute of Packaging and later independently. This competition focuses on printing quality and not innovation, design or origination, although the printer’s skill in implementing these is taken into consideration. A total of 23 companies entered the competition with a total of 166 entries which were spread over 10 categories, many of which were subdivided into line and tone and process working. Some categories, like paper, were further subdivided into coated and uncoated. A total of 51 awards were made. The judges set their standards very high and any blemish or mark, poor transfer, less than perfect register or non-compliance with the requirements are bases for rejection. Magnifiers are regularly used to examine dot integrity, ink lay down and -transfer.

With respect to Golden Era’s Best of Show award, the judges commented, “The multicolour registration issues created by the design for this entry are well-handled. Smooth and even gradations, fine highlight dots and good solids with solids and halftones on the same plate are all achieved with water-based inks. The Kellogg’s Coco Pops print was therefore judged ‘as close as you can get to perfect.’”

Another Asahi customer, New Era Labels, reaped two Gold awards. With regard to the Nola Tangy Mayonnaise Dressing shrink sleeve entry, the judges commented, “The entry achieves excellent ink laydown, particularly for the gold.” They also applauded the smooth, fine highlight
dots. “Smooth fine highlight dots is one of the differentiation factors making a difference between Asahi Pinning Top Dot plates and plates from other manufacturers,” said Dieter Niederstadt, Technical Marketing Manager for Asahi Photoproducts, “largely as a result of the inherent capability of Asahi plates to deliver High Definition Clean Transfer of ink.” The award of a second Gold medal to New Era Labels for its OK Soup Powder package demonstrates this point, with the judges praising the density of all of the colours and “magnificent, clean positive type.”

In addition to the above awards, the following entries printed using Asahi plates secured medal awards.

• Ellis Brown Creamer 1Kg – Silver Award – AFP TOP (Golden Era Printers)

• Spar White Onion Soup 65g – Silver Award – AFP DSH

• Lux Wake Me Up 400ml – Silver Award – AFP TOP (New Era Labels)

• Kellogg’s Fruit Loops 350g – Bronze Award – AFP TOP (Job moved from Litho to Flexo) (Golden Era Printers)

“Print quality has historically been a focus for this prestigious award,” says David Galton, Asahi European Sales Director. “It is that print quality that is helping to accelerate growth in flexographic printing, bringing flexo quality on a level with offset and gravure. We are honoured that our plates played a role in enabling Golden Era and other Asahi customers to be recognized with these awards. It is especially rewarding in light of the stringency of the judging criteria.”

Asahi’s solvent-washable AFP-TOP flexo plates embody a unique design that ensures the highest possible quality print with the least amount of press downtime. Its Pinning Top Dot Technology ensures exceptional print performance and enhanced press profitability, as demonstrated by the quality of Golden Era’s submission.

DS SMITH RECEIVES PRESTIGIOUS EUROPEAN AWARDS FOR EXCEPTIONAL QUALITY IN FLEXOGRAPHY

Re-post from Asahi-Photoproducts.com

Tokyo, Japan, & Brussels, Belgium, June 29, 2016 – Asahi Photoproducts, a pioneer in flexographic photopolymer plate development, today congratulates its customer, the DS Smith plant in Fulda. DS Smith, a leading display & packaging supplier, is the recipient of two prestigious awards from the FTA Europe Diamond Awards. The company was recognized with a diamond first in the Super Wide Web Flexo Print on Paper category and also Best in Show due to the outstanding printing quality for its pre-printed liners produced for Henkell & Co. Sektkellerei KG. The inaugural FTA Europe Diamond Awards ceremony was held at the Hyatt Hotel in Düsselsdorf, 2nd June 2016, during the drupa 2016 exhibition.

The FTA Diamond Awards recognizes companies that have been Gold Award winners in their respective countries. DS Smith had achieved gold in a category of the EFIA UK awards in March and was then put forward to participate in the FTA Awards.

“We submitted printing samples for pre-printed liner we created for Henkell & Co. Sektkellerei KG. These images were printed in very high quality that compares favorably with conventional offset-printed packaging,” said Steffen Blankenburg, print production manager at the DS Smith plant in Fulda.

In producing the packaging, DS Smith strove to achieve a close match to the brilliance normally achieved with offset printing, but using fixed color palette 4-color flexography. “The challenge was to reach high brilliance comparable to offset printing. We were able to do this through a combination of the prepress expertise of our well qualified employees and the quality enabled by using Asahi’s AFP-TOPTM plates with Pinning Technology for Clean Transfer.” added Jan Brandtner, plant manager at DS Smith Pre-Press Services GmbH.

“This terrific achievement was the result of a very fruitful collaboration between Asahi and DS Smith over the last six months,” said David Galton, Sales Director for Asahi Photoproducts. “We are proud to have been part of this process and extend our hearty congratulations to DS Smith for this prestigious recognition.”

More than 200 like-minded individuals from across the European flexographic community came together to celebrate the best of flexography during the event. In addition to well-deserved recognition of exceptional performance, it was an ideal opportunity to celebrate the vibrancy and competitiveness of flexography whilst providing a perfect forum for colleagues to network.

UNIFLEX ADOPTS ASAHI PHOTOPRODUCTS FLEXOGRAPHIC PLATES FOR HIGHER QUALITY, IMPROVED EFFICIENCY

Re-post from Asahi-Photoproducts.com

Tokyo, Japan & Brussels, Belgium, 24 January 2017 – About eight years ago, Belarus-based Uniflex began its journey to enhance quality and competitive advantage through the use of fixed colour palette printing (also called Extended Colour Gamut printing), using a fixed set of inks to replace most, if not all, requirements for spot colour inks. Uniflex is one of the largest flexographic printing companies in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Eastern Europe. The company offers a wide range of high quality flexible packaging such as vacuum bags, pouches, sachets, roll packaging, and self-adhesive labels in up to 10 colours and using a variety of materials.

“We saw fixed colour palette printing as the next milestone in quality and efficiency for flexographic printing,” said Eugen Lungin, Production Manager of Uniflex. “We worked to assemble a suite of industry-leading solutions to position us at the forefront of modern printing techniques to better serve our existing customer base and to expand our global footprint. Our partnership with Asahi Photoproducts was essential to our success in achieving these goals.”

Uniflex chose to use Asahi’s AFPTM-TOP and AWPTM flexographic plates with Pinning Technology for Clean Transfer, finding them to be the ideal plate choices for Full HD Flexo production. “Our customers have strict requirements relative to the quality of their printing,” added Eugen Lungin. “We are always striving to take advantage of the latest innovations in flexography in order to meet and exceed customer expectations, and fixed colour palette printing is definitely one of those innovations. High quality, eye-catching, yet functional packaging is what our brand owners are looking for, and plates from Asahi Photoproducts are a vital enabler for us to achieve that and more.”

Pinning Technology for Clean Transfer is a unique plate technology specifically engineered to transfer all remaining ink to the print substrate due to the photopolymer plates having a lower surface energy than other plates on the market. It is an ideal technology for fixed colour palette printing. Not only does this deliver stunning graphical quality, but it also

improves overall production efficiencies due to reduced make-ready waste and fewer press wash-ups. In fact, independent testing reflects that Asahi plates with Pinning Technology for Clean Transfer deliver at least a 26% improvement in Operational Equipment Effectiveness (OEE).

“We began our fixed colour palette printing journey with Asahi’s AFPTM-TOP plates after a thorough market review, and found they had the best and most consistent ink transfer from start to finish during production runs. We subsequently added AWPTMwater-washable plates to take advantage of their precise plate-to-plate register, fast platemaking time and environmental benefits to round out our plate portfolio, for the best of all worlds in fixed colour palette flexographic printing.”

“Uniflex is a delight to work with,” said Martin Wohlschlegel, Sales Manager Key Accounts and Emerging Markets at Asahi Photoproducts Europe. “Their dedication to quality and environmental sustainability, and their heritage of innovation in the flexographic printing process, sets them apart and bodes well for their future success. We look forward to an ongoing relationship that is mutually beneficial.”

“With the implementation of fixed colour palette printing and our use of Asahi AWPTM and AFPTM-TOP plates,” Eugen Lungin concluded, “we not only have the cost and productivity benefits of fixed colour palette printing, but we also are able to achieve higher line screens and extremely brilliant colours without any compromise in colour stability. Homogenous ink transfer makes it nearly impossible to distinguish our fixed colour palette flexo printing from the highest quality gravure. We are now technically able to provide high-end printing quality that meets the expectations of even the most demanding customers while benefiting from improved OEE!”

Robinette has the answers to the Great Plate Debate!

“The Asahi AWP™ plates have proven very successful for us. The support from Asahi and its dealer CTGA has been outstanding. Asahi has a full-time representative in CTGA’s Nashville technology center, and their experts also help us with the entire platemaking process. We really appreciate all that they have done for us.”

— Gene Martin, Plant Manager at The Robinette Company

A Solvent-Free Approach to Platemaking

With a focus on sustainability, The Robinette Company was interested in reducing its environmental footprint. “In 2010, I attended the Great Plate Debate in Louisville, Kentucky, sponsored by the Flexographic Technical Association (FTA),” explains Gene Martin, Plant Manager at The Robinette Company’s Bristol TN plant. “All the vendors were there discussing the usual topics and latest technology. Then Asahi Photoproducts came forward with a plate that could be washed out with water and that didn’t require press stops for cleaning as frequently. That immediately got my attention.”

Subsequently, Martin and his team tried the Asahi AWP™-DEF water washable plates featuring Asahi’s CleanPrint Technology. “We ran some test jobs successfully, and our press operators liked the plate,” Martin states. “We were using solvent plates at the time, and it took three hours for the whole platemaking process. With the Asahi AWP™-DEF plates, the first time out in the platemaking process was one hour, with each additional plate in 20 minutes, increasing our platemaking capacity by 33%.” Since Robinette only works with AWP™ plates, this is a substantial time savings in the plate room.

Improved Quality, Faster Job Change Overtime

Robinette’s tests delivered better highlight dots and overall contrast. “The plate itself is very consistent,” Martin says, “when compared to other plate technologies. When you wash out with solvent, the plate swells, and you have to dry it and remove all the solvent to get to the correct caliper. We didn’t have that issue with the AWP™-DEF plates.”

With the AWP™-DEF plates, operators were also able to set impressions more consistently. “The plates have a more consistent surface tension,” he adds. “They release ink consistently with much better color matching between jobs that share the same colors without the need to retone the colors.”

With solvent plates, presses at Robinette delivered a 49.58% Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). Now with Asahi AWP™ plates, that has jumped to 64.92%, a 31% increase in OEE for the press room, with reduced makeready times and fewer press stops for plate cleaning. More specifically, the average time it took press operators to change over a job with solvent plates was 297 minutes while AWP™ plates took an average of 151 minutes. “That’s a 50% reduction in makeready time.  This is largely driven by the reduction in changeover time for jobs that share like colors, which represents about 65% of our jobs and has been reduced by two hours. Add all of that to our 33% gain in capacity in the plate room, and it is fair to say that with Asahi AWP™ plates, our plate and press rooms have been revolutionized!”

Moving to the Next Generation

Martin is delighted with the improvements achieved by using the AWP™-DEF water-washable flexo plates. “But nothing in this world stands still,” he comments, “and we are always looking for ways to improve our quality and productivity. We are pleased with the work Asahi Photoproducts is doing to continue to improve their products as well.”

In that spirit, The Robinette company beta-tested the brand-new Asahi AWP™-DEW plate. “We are getting the same great quality and taking advantage of Asahi’s CleanPrint™,” Martin states. “But now our first time out for a plate is reduced from an hour to around 25 minutes, with subsequent plates produced about every 15 minutes.

Solvent-Free

Due to its success with the Asahi water-washable plates, The Robinette Company’s platemaking department is now completely solvent-free. “This is a huge benefit for us,” Martin says. “We no longer have to recycle solvent or handle any hazardous waste.” “The partnership with Asahi is very valuable to us,” Martin concludes. “The support from Asahi and its dealer has been outstanding. Asahi experts also help us with the entire platemaking process, including the Esko plate imager, and HD Flexo and microcell patterning. We really appreciate all that they have done for us.”

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