CTP ‘first’ at Reproflex 3
A Creo computer-to-flexo plate system installed by flexo repro specialist Reproflex 3, in Cramlington, UK, is said to be the first of its type in the world. Purchased through Litho Supplies, the complete solution comprises a ThermoFlex Mid platesetter driven by a Prinergy Powerpack workflow management system running the Synapse InSite Internet portal into prepress. Also including the UK’s first Creo flexo screening bundle of MaxTone, DigiCap, Raster Scaling and HyperFlex software, it will link to Reproflex 3’s recently installed MIS using Synapse Link, automating exchange of data between the production and business workflows.
“The packaging market is increasingly coming under pressure to reduce turnaround times,” says Reproflex 3 director Andrew Hewitson. “We waited until we felt flexo CTP was stable enough to be of ‘plug and play’ standard and chose Creo because we like the way it works.”
For the last two years the company has used an HP Indigo web press for digital proofing direct to the actual production substrate. The Creo installation is seen as the next step in the digitization process.
“The packaging market is traditionally a step behind commercial litho,” he continues, “but recently we have felt the pressure to apply a more efficient production process, and a digital prepress workflow helps us to do this. By tailoring Creo CTP solutions, we can see massive potential in packaging.
“We are especially keen to try the screening solutions, as one of the classic problem areas with flexo printing is that it is hard to hold a one per cent dot – you tend to get a hard edge instead of being able to grade out. Creo’s MaxTone and HyperFlex screening software solves this and by using DigiCap we can potentially reduce dot gain while increasing solid ink densities.”
Synapse InSite enables users to submit jobs and collaborate remotely over proofing corrections. It is also expected to improve communications and speed turnaround. With all transactions recorded directly to the Prinergy workflow management system’s database and to Reproflex 3’s new MIS, activity tracking and billing will be automated and streamlined.
“Prinergy, InSite and Synapse Link give us a massive amount of help in terms of production efficiency,” Andrew Hewitson confirms. “We also produce labels on our Indigo press. The digital printing concept needs an efficient front end and InSite will be perfect for this, too. We also see Creo as leading the way in connectivity between production processes and using file formats such as PDF and JDF.”
Matched to the Mac
The versatility of Kodak Polychrome Graphics’ First Check proofing system is now available to Mac computer users with the launch of the Best Designer Edition Mac OSX. Utilized by designers for the packaging industry, First Check brings mock-ups in-house with its ability to print orange, green, spot black, opaque white, foils, metallics, and a finish coat on a variety of media, including transfer and shrink films.
“Many of our customers in the package design market use Mac computers to create their work and we feel it’s important to customize our products to fit their needs,” says Olivier Michaud, packaging segment manager at KPG Europe. “Now, with the new Mac RIP, the entire graphic arts community can access the colour capabilities and versatility of this easy to use, affordable desktop proofing system.”
The First Check transfer film can be laminated to other substrates such as boards and some plastics, and shrinkwrapped to bottles or containers for realistic mock-ups, making it ideal for flexo proofing applications, according to KPG.
The Best Designer Edition Mac RIP works with the Power Mac G3, G4 or G5, iMac, eMac, Powerbook G3 or G4 or iBook Computer, Mac OSX 10.2.1 and above, minimum 512 MB RAM.
BackStage benefits up front
UK based packaging repro house Corniche is said to have gained a more than a 20 per cent increase in productivity since it installed Esko-Graphics’ BackStage Windows 2000 digital workflow. The Bridlington company also purchased a CDI Spark XT with Optics 25 (1,200 x 900mm format) and a FlexRIP dual channel RIP.
Managing director Shaun Newsome says: “Currently, less than 40 per cent of our flexo plates are digital, but we expect that to grow over time. What it does mean is that we can supply our clients with whatever format they require.” Using FlexRIP, the company can output files from BackStage and Artpro to the CDI.
General manager Sean Hancocks adds: “Consistency is the biggest advantage, because we have automated the construction of PDF files. This is particularly important, as we have 10 operators who were all doing them their own way. The QC department is starting to check the files on screen using FinalEye. We look forward to installing new features like FastView, so that we can open Esko-Graphics’ files on Macs, without having to tie up a PackEdge workstation.”
As good as it gets
Labelgraphics’ managing director Alex Mulvenny believes the installation of a fourth Gallus EM 280 flexo line has ‘topped out’ his company’s utilization of the model. “We started investing in EM 280s when they were being marketed as entry level machines for flexo label printers,” he explains. “Over the past six years we’ve taken the machine’s performance and output quality to levels I don’t think Gallus believed possible, and in doing so clinched a number of international print awards.”
The latest installation in the Glasgow plant is a 10-unit model fitted with eight UV flexo heads, two rotary screen heads and a hot foil station, all of which are interchangeable anywhere in the press line. At the infeed, an unwind unit with ultrasonic web edge guide feeds into a corona treater, while the converting end has a rotary die station followed by a web video system, matrix rewind and a rewind unit.
Universal form preparation
The Digilas from Daetwyler group member Schepers images flexo plates, sleeves, gravure and embossing cylinders, as well as textile printing forms using high precision laser technology.
Equipped with a fibre laser, it reaches a resolution of up to 5,080dpi. The beam can be divided to reach a production speed up to 16 cm/min. A CO2 laser can also be provided for direct engraving of cylinders made of ceramic, plastics, or hard rubber.
The Digilas is controlled with PC based software that can be used universally for all processes (including 3D) and allows free selection of screen angles and generation of own screen point forms, which can be saved in the screen library.
Rivendell ranks first
Rivendell Europe is the first repro company to install a DuPont Uptime package, consisting of a Cyrel Fast system and a Cyrel Digital Imager, together with i’certification.
“The decision to move to Fast was an easy one,” says sales director of the Leeds, UK, based company Mike Blackshaw. “We already have four digital cromalin proofing devices, complementing our digital workflow, and to be the first repro company to offer a completely solventless process in producing flexo plates was extremely appealing.
“This revolutionary process was put to the test late last year, when, in a constrictive lead time we worked with one of our major clients who were relaunching their brand image. We decided that for quality, speed and consistency to use FAST. Over 60 sku’s were produced in various substrates, the quality was astounding, the printer was happy and the client overwhelmed with the results.”
Lüscher closes the loop
UK manufacturer of direct laser ablation technologies ZED Instruments has been acquired by Swiss company Lüscher from US parent The Moore Co.
“Their products seamlessly complement ours in the pre-press sector,” says Hans Lüscher. “This acquisition is the key to our expansion in the flexo sector.” Lüscher director Lars Jannery adds: “It will give us wider access to the flexible packaging, label, and point-of-sale display printing markets.”
ZED, now named Lüscher Flexo, will operate from new premises in Thame with the existing staff.
Available in four sizes to accommodate most formats, Theimer’s FlexoStar exposure system is claimed to produce plates “approaching laser quality”. Theimer
The Flexo-M plate and sleeve analysis system from Quality Engineering Associates uses a novel reflective reading technology without the need of an external light source. The company also offers portable image analysis systems to control dot gain and dot quality on a wide range of materials.
The FlexiDot hand-held device for measuring flexo film and plates is available from Plastotype. It incorporates a patent pending technique said to give the best possible image of the printing surface for accurate readings. Plastotype also offers the Capatch, a low cost yet reliable method for determining the volume of anilox rolls.
Solutex offers liquid recycling systems for both water and solvent based printing processes. Edale has supplied several Alpha flexo presses to Ireland recently. Purchasers include A1datatech, in Belfast, Nuprint, Derry, and RST Applications, of Coleraine.
RK Print Coat has supplied a FlexiProof 100 to Flint Ink of Michigan, USA.
Tel: +44 (0)7836 719 650
Gallus Group UK
Kodak Polychrome Graphics
RK Print Coat
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