Esko Says Next-Generation Platemaking Is Here

GHENT, BELGIUM | Esko reports it is bringing flexo platemaking to new levels of quality and consistency and is simplifying the platemaking operation.

Thomas Klein, VP Hardware, Esko, says, “Flexo average run lengths are getting shorter, and the industry needs ways to produce those shorter runs faster and more effectively. A considerable part of the solution consists of rethinking flexo platemaking, so far a complex and highly manual process often involving up to five different hardware devices and six process steps. Integration of process steps and more automation—and thus standardization—improves quality, consistency, and ease of use and enables customers to more efficiently manage the digital flexo platemaking workflow.” 

The company introduced a range of innovations for flexo platemaking at drupa 2016:

  • The CDI Crystal 5080 XPS integrates and automates flexo plate imaging and exposure and transfers the plate to the processor.
  • The all new XPS 5080 is a UV LED exposure device said to add increased consistency to the company’s established quality standard.
  • A complete integration of flexo platemaking and workflow software with the new Automation Engine Device Manager delivers full control over the flexo platemaking process.
  • A screening technology said to bring digital flexo to an even higher quality level.

According to the company, a series of plate types from the primary flexo plate vendors (DuPont, MacDermid, Asahi, and Flint) have already been certified for the Esko XPS Crystal to accommodate most of the flexible packaging print applications. 

Together with its partner Vianord, Esko says it is further innovating and automating the flexo platemaking process. The next step toward a fully automated flexo platemaking process without manual touch points will consist of a bridge between the CDI Crystal 5080 XPS and a plate processing installation. Flexo plates will be imaged, exposed simultaneously from the back and through the mask, and processed in a single streamlined production line, taking even more manual steps out of the process.

On the subject of shorter print run lengths, company says they require flexo plates to be ready faster, within a reliable delivery window, so that printing operations are not jeopardized by press downtime waiting for plates. Innovations such as moving operational control further upstream to the prepress department, tearing down silos, and better integrating flexo platemaking with the prepress workflow are said to make it easier to meet challenging lead times.

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