Esko System Helps Prepress House and Its Customers

MIAMISBURG, OH | Esko reports the installation of its Full HD Flexo at the Expac Pre-Press Service Group reportedly offering Expac’s wide portfolio of customers flexo plates that deliver better quality with finer highlights and a bump in print density, along with economies on press. 

Based in Downingtown, PA, Expac and its six employees specialize in prepress for both flexographic and gravure printing—producing digital flexo plates for a wide variety of end-use products that can be run on any press. Their prepress technicians are cross trained on Esko software.

The company installed an Esko Full HD Flexo system with in-line UV exposure, which went into production on April 1, 2015. Expac had a Full HD Flexo retrofit—inside a six-year old DuPont CDI 4260 machine. "We were nervous about installing the new Full HD UV technology into the older device, but the installation went beyond smooth," says Expac president and CEO Ed Bernier. "It took only one week of time. With the Full HD optics and in-line UV upgrade, we can still make plates at 2540 dpi on the Full HD machine and match the standard optics 80 machine. There's no difference. We have been very successful with interchangeability."

"We were hoping to see a bump in ink density on press with Full HD Flexo screening technologies, that would allow our customers to realize ink savings on board stocks. We worked with the tech rep of INX, who is in the building with us," says Bernier. "We work daily on all projects, assessing different inks and other testing to make sure our customers have a seamless startup on press between graphics, proofs, plates and ink. We are working to achieve ink savings on high volume press runs with our customers. The goal has been to get higher ink densities through HD plate technologies, thus allowing the pressman to add more extender and use fewer solids to achieve the same LAB color value with the same anilox set. Our first tests have shown very good results and savings with the ink 'mileage' over the press runs.”

That was Expac's primary interest. While imaging at 4000 dpi takes a little longer than 2540 dpi, they were able to market the cost of the plate at a premium because the cost savings for ink was so significant. It became a big win for everyone.

The nicest surprise, says Bernier, was the printability of highlights on smooth paper board. "There has not been a lot of Full HD Flexo printed on smooth paper board. We tested the new Full HD Flexo plates on one of our customer's new mid web presses, using new screening created by Esko. We're able to hold 0.8 plate dots using [DuPont’s] Thermal FAST plates with a 4 percent to 5 percent print dot on smooth paper--all but eliminating hard edge highlight cut-offs. Full HD Flexo certainly offers very good print quality and faster press startups--which is where there is economy for the printer."

In addition, with Full HD Flexo, Expac's ink technician saw about an 18% ink density boost with the plates and a potential 12%-13% ink savings in dollars on high coverage jobs. "When you're spending several million dollars on ink annually, that's a big savings from just changing to a new plate," says Bernier.

Bernier tells about one of its new customers who produces a retail bag for the Christmas holidays, a problem job in the past. This year the converter sent a digital print for Expac to use as a target for what the final bag should look like. Expac worked on the file and profiled the press with Full HD Flexo plates, using Esko Press Sync software for which the company built custom press curves and proofing profiles, prepared a color proof, and dialed in the press with the correct ink densities. The Full HD Flexo plates were put on the press, and the print was signed off and approved in less than two hours. “The customer was extremely happy with the results,” says Bernier. “It looked great—CMYK process and tight registration on uncoated paper."

Among all the technologies we researched, Full HD Flexo has met all our needs," Bernier sums up. "We are more than satisfied."

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