The 500-employee packaging and self-adhesive labels specialist serving Russia, Kazakhstan and the Ukraine, is an enthusiastic adopter of Esko technology, including Esko Full HD Flexo and Equinox color technology software. The company is currently migrating production to Full HD Flexo after investing in two Esko Inline UV2 systems at drupa 2012.
“Many customers who were using gravure for their work are now looking seriously at what we can offer with our updated flexo capabilities,” says Evgeny Lungin, head of prepress for Uniflex. “Their press runs are getting shorter, which makes gravure an expensive option.”
Uniflex is migrating work from standard Esko HD Flexo to Full HD Flexo which makes print set up even easier. This has resulted in significant growth in gravure-to-flexo conversion thanks to the improved quality achieved by combining HD Flexo with Inline UV2.
“Today, 40% of all work is HD Flexo,” comments Lungin. “We are continuing the conversion process to Full HD Flexo, and our mid-term target is to print 60% of all jobs using this Esko solution.”
He continues: “Full HD Flexo makes very small, very high quality run lengths commercially viable since different jobs can be combined together on the same web. Highlights are much more stable against pressure than with normal HD Flexo plates, and the results are much more press independent. Full HD Flexo is becoming the new plate standard for Uniflex.”
And the capabilities are having a big impact on job workflow: “We are even using Full HD Flexo plates on our 17-year-old press and achieving comparable quality to our new presses,” Lungin adds. “This means jobs can be easily re-directed from one press to another, giving us a great deal of production workflow flexibility.”
Other benefits include high ink transfer and softer tape which is more forgiving on press resulting in less bouncing. It is also easier to combine solids and process work on the same plate, and using the same tape for solids and process work cuts mounting time as well.
Esko Full HD Flexo combines 4000 dpi HD optics on the Esko Cyrel Digital Imager (CDI) with Inline UV2 digital UV exposure and advanced screening technologies to produce sharper and more accurate imaging. It offers improved screening for higher solid ink density (SID) and more vibrant colors on packaging. This impressive result can be achieved while printing with standard flexo inks and anilox rollers.
Esko Full HD Flexo technology combines Inline UV2 digital main exposure inside the Cyrel Digital Flexo plate imager (CDI) with innovative HD imaging and screening technology. Esko Full HD Flexo extends the viability of flexo printing for flexible packaging by enabling the formation of different dot structures in one single plate to combine smooth highlights and gravure-like solid ink laydown.
Uniflex also installed Equinox, a unique color technology for expanded gamut printing. Using ICC profiles and color algorithms, it color matches and defines printing conditions. With the Equinox Adobe® Photoshop® plug-in, users can manipulate, blend and match a greater range of colors using CMYK or any other set of fixed colors. In addition to aiding productivity, this delivers the level of color consistency that customers – especially those accustomed to gravure – expect.
“It is a major innovation being able to print PANTONE™ colors with just seven inks,” states Lungin. “We can now offer higher quality, more saleable print with less color differentiation. We have now boosted our color space and regularly use extended gamut printing. We are also saving an average of 25% in inks.”
The difference is being noticed, Lungin points out:
“Our customers are very happy with the print quality, and that means they are placing more orders. We immediately saw a 30% increase in jobs coming through our shop as a result of beginning to implement Full HD Flexo. Our customers can also select from a wider range of substrates and have greater flexibility with their run lengths. Those are key attractions.”
Using Esko Digital Flexo Solutions (DFS) has also helped cut waste in plate cutting from 25% down to just 6%. “As our operators’ pay is dependent on the plate waste they produce, they love DFS,” adds Lungin.
Andrey Bataev, Esko’s General Manager Russian Federation, comments:
“Uniflex is a great example of an operation that is adapting its portfolio of services to address today’s market pressures that largely result from an increasing trend on the part of brand owners towards shorter runs along with a need to meet tight budget restrictions. Its decision to choose Full HD Flexo as a cost effective solution that meets expectations for high quality results is paying off in more ways than one. Increased business and reduced costs? That is enough to make any business owner smile.”
As for working with Esko, Lungin says:
“We have a good, long-term relationship, and we expect it to continue – particularly now that we have more customers excited about the quality we can produce, comparable with gravure but at a much lower cost for the shorter runs they are now preferring. The benefits to us are more orders and more revenue , which means we can continue to invest in new technology, especially from Esko.”