We started this business with a simple goal, to supply our clients with the highest quality flexo plates, and help boost flexographic printing to the top of the printing industry.To accomplish this goal we partnered with Asahi, a company we saw having the foresight to innovate flexo plates and bring improved quality, productivity and sustainability to flexo.It was the best decision we could’ve ever made, as Asahi plates have taken Flexo by storm since then, and achieved a new level of success for our clients who use them.
The outstanding performance of Asahi Flexo Plates is the result of over 30 years of technological development in the field of photopolymer plates for flexo printing. In that time, Asahi has grown to become a leading manufacturer of digital and analog printing plates for the flexo market. They’ve achieved this by setting the highest standards in product development and manufacturing, while continually breaking new ground in advancing technologies to improve print quality, cost-effectiveness and environmental sustainability.
As the technology for flexographic printing continues to evolve, both quality and efficiency are improving. In order to remain competitive, flexographic printers must stay informed about the latest developments.
Once a sort of “halfway point” between offset and gravure, flexo has come into its own in recent years, in many cases taking volume that might otherwise have gone to one of those print processes, or even digital printing. This is due to its improved quality and ability to profitably produce the shorter runs the market often demands.
Another big change is around environmental sustainability issues, of increasing importance to many brands. Historically, most of the sustainability concerns revolved around the plate making process:
Was the process using water, solvent or thermal imaging?
How much solvent and energy were required to make plates?
What types of toxic chemicals were used?
What were the costs associated with managing, storing and disposing of them?
Recent customer experience takes the discussion in another direction: With the right plates, many environmental issues are minimized—not in plate making, but in the printing process. At the same time, quality goals can easily be met and press uptime can be significantly improved. This is important for several reasons:
With a higher uptime standard, a flexo press will deliver more throughput. More jobs and more volume through the press equates to more revenue and profit
When the press is down because plates need to be changed or cleaned, not only is more time consumed, but also more waste is generated as the press once again comes up to color
Less print production time translates to less energy usage, improving the environmental footprint of the print job and helping keep costs in line
Water-Washable Plate Benefits
The challenge for plate manufacturers has always been to create a more environmentally friendly plate without losing the benefits and advantages of quality and efficiency. Water-washable plates were developed to meet that challenge and to help printers and converters approach their operations from a much more holistic perspective. In addition to delivering excellent quality, these plates ensure a lower CO2 footprint in print production with a much higher press OEE (Overall Equipment Efficiency). Average improvement in OEE with water-washable plates is 33 percent.
In flexographic printing, highlights can usually cause two potential problems. The first is the highlight breaking point, which prevents a vignette from printing smoothly to zero. Photopolymer flexo plates usually start printing highlights at 5 percent to 8 percent due to dot gain, in the best cases. This means that gradations in vignettes suddenly break at that level, producing a visual contrast with the substrate; a visible breaking point or line well recognized as a print fault in the industry.
This breaking point is virtually eliminated using water-wash technology due to its smaller dot size, low dot gain and high dot stability, especially when used in combination with the latest generation of screening technologies. Extensive plate trials and live production jobs have proven the plate’s ability to print down to 2 percent to 3 percent using classical round dot screening. With the latest screening technologies, the plate is able to reproduce a vignette fade to zero.
Noteworthy benefits listing out as improved press uptime and OEE, reduced waste, profitable production of short runs and faster time to market are making flexography more competitive against offset, gravure and digital print. Industry awards continue to bring the process validity and forge flexo’s recognition as packaging’s preferred print method.
Gateway Packaging: OEE Up 53%
Many now say plate making is the central focus of the bigger picture view of flexography’s environmental sustainability initiatives. Here is one story to illustrate the point.
Based in White House, TN, Gateway Packaging (who ProAmpac acquired in May 2018) is a high-end printer/packaging converter and the largest pet food packaging provider in North America. The company is continually seeking ways to improve products and solve problems for its customers. To meet that goal, Gateway recently completely revamped its flexo plate making process.
“With the variety of flexographic plates and plate making solutions available in the market, we wanted to do a thorough evaluation to ensure our investment decision was the best possible choice,” said Tharrin Akers, prepress manager. “With that in mind, we benchmarked solutions from the leading players, ultimately bringing our selection to two, including Asahi Photoproducts. As a final test, we ran several production jobs using plates to compare efficiency with our current process, and we were very pleased with the results.”
CTGA is offering incredible, limited time, year-end deals on Esko Platemaking Equipment. Previously used as demo units, these machines have very low hours, are in excellent like new condition, and can be yours at a great discount saving you lots of money on this state of the art equipment from Esko! Treat yourself to an early holiday gift this year, and contact CTGA today to learn more about this exciting opportunity!
CONTACT CTGA TODAY AND SAVE!
If you’re interested in taking advantage of this amazing opportunity during our Year-End Sale on Esko Demo Equipment, Contact CTGA today and speak with one of our sales reps. Don’t miss this limited time special offer!
CTGA customer Label Impressions, Inc. remains one of the greenest label companies in the world today, and part of that is due to it’s use of Asahi’s AWP Water Washout Flexo Plates and Equipment. In their commitment to stay eco-friendly and sustainable, Label Impressions began working with AWP and never looked back. They immediately saw an increase in productivity, quality, profitability and sustainability with AWP.
But that’s not the only way Label Impressions has achieved the greenest label company status…
In addition to operating a 100% wind powered, carbon neutral facility, Label Impressions is the exclusive supplier for tree-free, stone paper labels. They also offer 100% Post Consumer Waste (PCW) recycled labels, biodegradable labels with biodegradable adhesives, and we even create our own drinking water from the humidity we reduce in our manufacturing area.
Label Impressions, Inc. is dedicated to keeping our environment healthy “one label at a time.” As an industry sustainability leader, Label Impressions has been instrumental in developing several green label materials and environmental standards. They are currently the ONLY label printer to be certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) and to be awarded carbon neutral status through non-profit CarbonFund.org. Label Impressions’ president, Jeff Salisbury, is a contributor to the industry’s L.I.F.E. program (Label Initiative For the Environment) and a regular speaker on environmental packaging and manufacturing solutions.
Tokyo/Brussels, September 21, 2018 – Asahi Photoproducts, a pioneer in flexographic photopolymer plate development, today reported that Cartotecnica Postumia, a producer of square-bottom bags for the food industry, customized shopping bags, and printed paper rolls for use in automatic packaging machines, relies on Asahi AFP™-DSF digital flexographic plates for delivery of the highest quality to its global customer base demands. Cartotecnica Postumia, who recently celebrated its 50th year in business, has used Asahi plates for 25 years now, using nearby repro house Thema Studio for plate production.
“Thema Studio is an expert, perfecting its repro quality over the years,” says Managing Director Pierluigi Gava. “Great communication between our company and Thema Studio along with excellent Asahi plate technology is the secret to our success. Thema Studio tells us that, while they do test other plates from time to time, these do not perform as well as the Asahi plates, requiring press stoppages for cleaning during runs and exhibiting other quality issues. We trust their advice!”
In recognition of the quality the Asahi plates helped the company achieve, Cartotecnica Postumia was honoured with a 1stDiamond Award for narrow web flexo print on paper and labels by FTA Europe in its second edition of the FTA Europe Diamond Awards in May 2018. Cartotecnica Postumia’s entry was printed in seven colours plus water-based matt varnish with a UV gloss varnish overcoat. “I am not sure we could have produced this award-winning entry without the quality we achieved using Asahi DSF plates,” Gava adds. “The Asahi AFP™ DSF is the best plate in the market for high quality paper printing on substrates ranging from abrasive kraft paper to coated liner.”
Benefits of Asahi Plate Technology
Asahi’s AFP™-DSF digital medium hard plate elevates printing results to a new level of quality. It is designed for use with abrasive substrates for good highlights combined with excellent ink transfer. Its optimized balance of solid ink laydown and highlight dot printing produces incomparably good ink coverage with low dot gain in the mid tones and brilliant highlights at maximum printing speeds, with particular suitability for flexible packaging printing on film and paper with the water-based inks exclusively used by Cartotecnica Postumia.
Visit with us in Chicago at LabelExpo 2018 and see samples of the ground breaking technology we offer our customers through partnerships with incredible brands like Asahi, Esko, and more.
In our fast-paced and rapidly evolving industry, efficiency, waste reduction and speed to market are critical. By partnering with Label Impressions, Inc., Esko and CTGA, Asahi has brought together solutions from world-class companies to create a faster, more efficient and more consistent flexographic platemaking workflow. Esko’s Crystal technology reduces the number of platemaking steps required and is making the process more consistent. By adding Asahi’s AWP™ water washable plates with Clean Transfer Technology to the mix, our customers can take OEE to a brand-new level of efficiency while boosting print quality and reducing their environmental footprint.
As one of the only national U.S. distributors of Asahi AWP plates and plate making equipment, CTGA is proud to represent the future of flexographic printing to our customers, and we hope you visit with us at LabelExpo 2018 to see a sample of this work in partnership with the amazing companies listed above, and to learn what we can do to help drive the success of your business!
The Specifications for this special LabelExpo Promo Piece are:
CTGA Client, Label Impressions, recently received the TLMI Annual “Excellence in Printing” award for an 8-color promotional label on static cling material. This TLMI (Tag and Label Manufacturers Institute) award is coveted by label printers nationwide. While many converters send in dozens of submissions in hopes of winning LII submitted just ONE and took home the trophy!
Static cling is notoriously difficult to maintain consistent color, fine dots, and crisp text. Label Impressions was able to achieve unprecedented results with our HD Flexo plates, advanced production equipment, and exceptional experience in flexographic printing. Our work on this and all of our process color labels rival Gravure and Offset traditionally known as ‘the’ go-to when top quality is an absolute must.
As the label industry’s leader in innovation and quality, Label Impressions adds this latest achievement to a number of unique accomplishments like plantable labels, clean release and window cards, various expanded content solutions, and truly green production.
A focus on quick, consistent and highest quality creation of plates with Asahi AWP™ flexographic plates
Tokyo/Brussels, August 2, 2018 – Asahi Photoproducts, a pioneer in flexographic photopolymer plate development, today announced it will be exhibiting at Labelexpo Americas 2018, scheduled for 25 to 27 September at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois. Asahi will be located in Stand F6479 at the show. The company will be showing its AWP™ family of water-washable flexographic plate solutions featuring Clean Transfer Technology, including its new AWP™ -DEW plate with washout speeds 2.5 times faster than previous plates, making it ideal for on-demand platemaking and a more efficient flexographic operation in even the busiest plants.
“At the show, we will be showing flexographic print samples printed using AWP™ plates imaged on an Esko Crystal XPS system whose simultaneous UV main and back exposure produces highly consistent digital flexo plates,” said Makoto Nagata, Sales Manager Overseas for Asahi. “We are looking forward to welcoming visitors and sharing information about the possibilities created with the quick, consistent, and highest quality creation of plates using the Asahi AWP™ family of plates.”
Asahi experts will also be available to speak with visitors about the Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE) benefits of Asahi AWP™ plates. “Printing operations stand to reap huge benefits from moving to AWP™ plates,” adds Mr. Nagata. “Companies like Czech-based Colognia Press are seeing press uptimes of more than 50%, up from 25% with their previous plates, and even report running a 22-hour job with one set of plates, no stops, and with very consistent quality from beginning to end. In our experience, AWP™ plates make these types of results very achievable for flexo printers.”
Flexo average run-lengths are getting shorter, and the industry needs ways to produce shorter print runs more effectively, while less lead time.
Flexographic plates need to be available immediately and the press planning needs to be flexible to accommodate for a changing schedule.
As flexo must be at par with gravure, digital and offset printing, only the highest flexographic plate quality and consistency is good enough. That’s why the new flexo plate making workflows are highly automated so they become easier to adopt.
Work faster and reduce errors: prepress & project management
There’s a suite of fully integrated tools available to optimize every step in your flexo workflow, from first customer contact to delivery of goods – not just the imaging part. From project management, over prepress, to effective color management, Esko’s flexo solutions help you shorten your lead times and maximize press uptime. Work faster, and smarter and reduce human handoffs.
Removing complexity through automation: CDI Crystal XPS
The flexo plate making process consists out of many complex and manual steps. This not only takes time, it also offers ample opportunity for human errors. With the CDI Crystal XPS, making flexo plates finally becomes a coordinated, linear process. Esko’s CDI Crystal Imagers and exposure units offer superb and consistent results that were only achievable in offset or gravure before.
Highest quality prints using SOMA Optima 2 press, Asahi AWP™ plates, inks from Sun Chemical
Brussels, Belgium, July 17, 2018 – Asahi Photoproducts, a pioneer in flexographic photopolymer plate development, today reported it supported the grand opening of the brand-new SOMA Flexo Technology Center in Foshan, China. The new center opened on 26 June and featured a SOMA Optima2 flexographic press running Asahi Photoproducts AWP™ water-washable plates. A specially designed package for muffins was produced on transparent BOPP using Sun Chemical solvent-based inks and Lohmann tapes. The Asahi AWP™ plates were produced in Germany by repro house Jaehde.
“Congratulations to SOMA for its very successful Grand Opening with more than 200 people in attendance,” says Yuji Suzuki, Head of the Technical Training Center at Asahi in China. “We were pleased to play a role in this success by helping with an attractive design for food-safe flexible packaging produced with our AWP™ water-washable plates on the Optima2 press. We are looking forward to continuing to support our partner SOMA in the Chinese market, bringing the quality and convenience of AWP™ water-washable plates with Asahi’s Clean Transfer Technology to this important market.”
Asahi’s AWP™ plate technology provides a viable alternative to conventional flexo printing plates. Its water washable printing plate technology does not require high temperatures or VOC-based solvents. It provides high register accuracy, making it particularly suitable for printing with a fixed colour palette and enabling odourless production. In addition to saving time and money and reducing waste, it also supports energy savings, whilst assuring exceptional quality and brilliant prints with significant improvement in overall equipment efficiency (OEE) as compared to traditional flexo plates. All of this delivers the most efficient and environmentally friendly way to produce flexographic printing plates and the resulting high quality printed materials.