Asahi Photoproducts and Esko Join Forces

Asahi Photoproducts and Esko Join Forces to Educate Chinese Market on Flexo Platemaking in Harmony with the Environment

Tokyo, Japan & Brussels, Belgium, November 20, 2020. Asahi Photoproducts, a pioneer in flexographic photopolymer plate development, today reported it extended its relationship with Esko through an agreement to install Esko plate imaging solutions in the Asahi Tech Center in Suzhou, near Shanghai. The agreement, which was entered into during All-in-Print China, will result in the installation of an Esko CDI Spark 4260 and an XPS Crystal 5080 in the Center.

These industry-leading plate imaging solutions are supported by an Asahi AWP 230W plate processor using Asahi AWPTM CleanPrint water-washable plates to complete the industry’s most balanced flexographic platemaking solution in harmony with the environment, delivering the highest possible quality for China’s demanding flexo customers.

“Asahi Photoproducts has worked together with Esko in China for a decade and this agreement takes the relationship to a new level in our ability to serve the rapidly evolving flexographic market in China,” said Yuji Suzuki, Asahi’s Senior Manager of Customer Technical Service.

Suzuki points out that high-end print quality is increasingly required in China, and many repro houses in the region still have difficulty making plates that deliver the best print quality. “One thing we will be doing in our Tech Center with the new equipment,” he says, “is creating test plates for potential customers so they can see for themselves that we can deliver the quality they need. We will also use the facility to do training and seminars for customers and potential customers.”

Esko will also have access to the Tech Center, offering the possibility to Asahi’s customers to learn more about how the Esko plate imaging system functions with Asahi’s AWPTM CleanPrint water-washable plates. “We are pleased to continue to grow our partnership with Asahi, especially in the highly competitive Chinese market,” said Rocky Zhou, General Manager for Esko in Shanghai. “The solutions being installed at the Asahi Tech Center will benefit both of our businesses as we work to continue to bring the latest state-of-the-art flexographic solutions to this region”.

FFP Packaging Wins Best in Show At the EFIA Awards 2020 Using Asahi AWP Flexo Plate Technology

Tokyo, Japan & Brussels, Belgium, 7 October, 2020 – Asahi Photoproducts, a pioneer in flexographic photopolymer plate development, is delighted to congratulate its customer FFP Packaging Solutions as winner of ‘Best in Show’ at the recent EFIA Awards 2020. FFP’s entry won Gold in the category ‘Flexo on Film – Reverse Print Wide’ using Asahi’s AWPTM-1.14 plates to achieve the high quality results. FFP’s entry ‘Juicy Meat Company, Large Beef, Easy Cook Pouch’ was acclaimed for superior design and excellent quality printing in CMYK, achieving exceptional density in the black areas alongside perfect soft highlights.

Paul Hesketh, Print Development Manager at FFP says, “Everyone at FFP is absolutely delighted to have won this year’s ‘Best in Show’ at the EFIA awards.”  As a leading flexible packaging innovator and converter with 50 years experience, FFP is unique in comparison to many other companies in their sector as they produce their plates in-house. Hesketh explains, “To take control of plate production we needed to find the best plate technology and a supplier and partner we could work with. Our relationship with Asahi supports our strategy to provide consistent high quality products. We purchased Asahi’s AWPTM 4835 water-wash plate processor around 5 years ago and Asahi supply us with the raw polymer so we can manufacture plates in-house. We decided to produce AWPTM-1.14 plates  after extensively researching the market, we found that Asahi plates gave us consistent and excellent quality results every time, with good ink lay-down and superior ink densities – perfect for very high quality work and challenging designs. The results we are able to achieve with this plate are so good, we offer them to our customers under our ‘Platinum Print’ brand.”

The print team at FFP Packaging Solutions quickly recognised the technical difficulty in achieving soft highlights and strong vibrant colors from the CMYK on challenging designs such as the winning entry.  The design on the Juicy Meat Company pack is predominately a dense black with contrasting lighter shades in the product images. To produce award winning designs FFP also has to focus carefully on its color management processes – they use IQC color management software and X-Rite spectrophotometers to measure digital tolerances.

Hesketh continues, “We have a great design and color management team at FFP but at the end of the day, high quality results are a lot to do with the plates and the way we set them up.  The success of the end product is down to achieving the correct balance with the plate, the ink system and the anilox and the key objective is to perfectly match the proof. We found the AWPTM 1.14 plate offers excellent quality and color consistency when used in conjunction with solvent based ink systems on our Windmöller & Hölscher high speed Miraflex Printing press.

All FFPs award entries are selected from the production Print that come off their presses on a daily basis. There is no special preparation made to produce an award winning piece of print. Hesketh explains, “I regularly see great print coming off the end of our presses and think – I’ll keep that.”  These samples build up throughout the year and when its time to send the entries for the awards, Hesketh and his  team review and select the best and the most appropriate print from the samples.  Hesketh works on the principle that everything they produce for their customers is top quality and good enough to win an award.

Hesketh concludes, “We take awards seriously.  Within our industry we regard EFIA as the most prestigious organisation.  We have been members for many years and won many awards but it was very satisfying indeed this year to receive their award for ‘Best in Show’.   Working in-house is fundamental to FFP maintaining the highest levels of quality products in a challenging and ever evolving market.  To do that we had to carefully consider our choice of technology partner.  We chose to partner with Asahi and use their AWPTM plate 5 years ago and we are still winning awards with it. We did look at other suppliers but we are very glad we went with Asahi as we believe their plate technology is top class.   We strive to be the best and use the best equipment available which is why we use Asahi’s AWPTM plates. Our competitors can’t compete.”

Plate Mounting Tape: What you need to know before you choose

Repost of Original Article from tesa.com


With few exceptions, no two plate mounting applications are exactly alike. To choose the right tape, you need to start with four basic questions: Who, where, how and what.

Here’s what we mean:

WHO = Standard Operating Procedures

WHERE = Environment

HOW = Equipment (both mounting and printing)

WHAT = Graphics

Quick and easy, right?

The short answer is, no.

Within each of these questions are lots of variables that you need to take into account. Taking the time to consider them will lead you to the tape that will work best. Along the way, you may also find that some simple changes – like using a different tool or switching out a printing plate – will help you do the same job better, faster and more efficiently.

Let us take you through our matchmaking-like approach to picking the right plate mounting tapes.

WHO = Standard Operating Procedures

We always start with standard operating procedures (SOP), which is really the human factor. After all, it’s people who set up the processes and put them in place (whether or not those processes are followed is a separate issue).

There are lots of different tools and many different ways of applying or mounting a tape. The recommended tape or adhesive will depend on your particular combination.

Maintenance is another key factor. Is the shop or work area kept immaculate or does it tend to get dirty? Are the plates cleaned as thoroughly and regularly as the other equipment?

We’re not judging. Just know that certain adhesives are more forgiving in dirtier conditions, and don’t lose their stickiness even when certain contaminants are left on the plate.

Other tapes perform best on equipment that is consistently kept very clean. They can also allow for an easier demount of the plate or smoother release from the sleeve.

If your company, and, more critically, the shop, are open to change, the benefits of new tools with a different tape may outweigh the time and inconvenience of making the switch and updating the SOP.

WHERE = Environment

Where are you working? To pick the right mounting tape or adhesive package, you need to know the conditions around your equipment. This includes the printing area as well as wherever the sleeves or cylinders are stored before and after the mounting.

Just like you’d look at the weather when packing for a trip, we study several factors to help identify the best tape for your operations:

– Average temperatures during working hours
– Temperature changes overnight
– Extreme temperatures – the highs and the lows
– Minimum and maximum humidity

Some tapes can take the heat, some can withstand the cold. Others are engineered to withstand wide swings in temperature and humidity levels while certain adhesive need regulated temperatures and controlled climates. It comes down to getting the right fit.

HOW = Equipment

The equipment — the “how” question – is closely related to standard operating procedures since whatever your company uses will, of course, impact those processes. Still, it’s worth taking a close look at the materials and the machinery used both in mounting and in the printing itself.

There are important differences in fully automated, semi-automated and manual mounting that will affect the type of tape that we’d recommend. Certain adhesives are definitely more effective when applied by hand. We’d also want to know if you use application tools like squeegees or rollers.

The size and condition of the sleeves or cylinders also come into play. For scored or uneven surfaces, flexible tapes are a good option because they conform closely for the best fit and better results.

On the printing side, the age and condition of presses are the big variables. If your equipment produces some bounce, chatter or vibrations when running, certain foam hardnesses can help compensate for those movements. There may be build-up tape on the presses – and on the cylinders and sleeves, too – for which a more suitable adhesive will be needed.

Don’t forget about the types of inks and solvents used on the machinery, too. They also help determine the chemical resistance of the recommended tapes and adhesives.

WHAT = GRAPHICS

Last, but not least, is the look of the final product. The designs and the types of plates used to create them influence the choice of plate mounting tapes.

Here’s where you consider the plate’s material and hardness (have your tried our Foam Advisor yet?)

The recommendations also consider if you’re printing solids, fine dots, highlights or a combination of all those design elements. The use of screening technology is another factor that will impact the decision-making process.

After all the analysis and discussion, a recommended plate mounting tape is only as good as the results it achieves. A trial run in your shop or factory is the ultimate – and best – test.

Asahi Announces New AFP-Leggero Flexo Plate For Corrugated Board Applications

Super-soft and smooth plate results in no board crush, fewer flute marks, good ink density, for the ultimate in post-print flexographic quality

Tokyo, Japan & Brussels, Belgium, March 26, 2020 – Asahi Photoproducts, a pioneer in flexographic photopolymer plate development, today announced the availability of a brand-new flexographic plate. Asahi AFP™-Leggero CleanPrint plates have been specifically designed for printing on lower quality low-liner corrugated board. This super-soft plate delivers kiss-touch printing without board crush, good ink density with reduced washboard effect, and is ideal for simple brown-box corrugated applications such as fruit trays and single-color logo type printing.

“With the growing use of corrugated board packaging around the globe, brands and retailers increasingly seek ways to increase quality appearance and protect their goods at the same time,” said Dieter Niederstadt, Asahi Photoproducts’ Technical Marketing Manager. “Asahi’s AFP™-Leggero flexographic printing plates deliver both higher quality and better protection of the product by not damaging the corrugated box flute structure. This is a very new approach inside Asahi, not only to focus on print quality aspects, but also to add value for protection of the packaged goods. Our ‘Just Kiss. No Crush.’ tagline reinforces this quality and protective result delivered by Asahi AFP™-Leggero CleanPrint plates. In addition, as with all of our CleanPrint plates, the Leggero plates ensure less waste, fewer press stops for plate cleaning and consistent exceptional quality throughout the run, the hallmark of Asahi’s CleanPrint flexo plates. We expect packaging converters will be able to achieve up to 15% improvement in Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) when they use these plates for corrugated post-print, delivering a solution in harmony with the environment.”

CleanPrint plates from Asahi Photoproducts have been specifically engineered to transfer all remaining ink to the printed substrate. The AFP™-Leggero CleanPrint effect is achieved because of the soft plate base material. The result is very clean printing. Another important benefit of Asahi’s CleanPrint plates, including AFP™-Leggero, is that they do not need to be cleaned as often as conventional digital solvent plates. Reduction of plate cleaning stops creates a significant productivity improvement as well as more consistent quality.

“With AFP™-Leggero’s soft-touch kiss printing,” Niederstadt added, “not only is the historical problem of board crush and washboarding virtually eliminated due to the softness of this plate, but there is also virtually no dot bridging and good ink laydown. That means that areas of solid colour as well as highlight areas are clean and crisp, as are fine lines and smaller type. This is the ideal plate for corrugated board post-print and will enable packaging converters to broaden the range of applications they can produce for customers, especially those that are not willing to sacrifice quality.”

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ASAHI PHOTOPRODUCTS TO DEMONSTRATE NEW WATER RECYCLING UNIT AT DRUPA 2020

New Asahi solution reduces platemaking waste water usage by 80%, using no solvents in the washout process, and bringing flexo platemaking more in harmony with the environment.

Asahi will be located in hall 5 C41 at drupa 2020.

Tokyo, Japan & Brussels, Belgium, 30. January 2020 –Asahi Photoproducts, a pioneer in flexographic photopolymer plate development, today announced the latest development in its CleanPrint strategy, a water recycling unit incorporated in new Asahi platemaking systems as a standard feature. This recycling unit uses 2 litres of water per square meter, versus 10 litres in units without the recycling unit, a reduction in platemaking waste water of 80%! In addition, minimal waste from the system, in the form of dry cake and a highly concentrated liquid extract, can be incinerated, with the liquid contributing to the cooling of the incineration plant, resulting in even more water savings. Existing Asahi platemaking systems can be retrofitted with the recycling unit so that all Asahi platemaking processes are more in harmony with the environment.

“As we have done for the past 45 years, we continue to look for ways to make the flexo printing process more efficient and in harmony with the environment while also improving overall effectiveness,” said Dieter Niederstadt, Asahi Photoproducts’ Technical Marketing Manager. “This latest improvement pushes flexographic printing into an even more environmentally balanced position, preserving precious water resources while maintaining the quality and efficiency our customers have come to expect. It’s another important strategic element of Asahi’s CleanPrint technology.

CleanPrint flexographic plates from Asahi Photoproducts have been specifically engineered by Asahi’s chemical engineers to transfer all remaining ink to the printed substrate, reducing makeready time and press cleaning stops as compared to other platemaking systems while delivering exceptional quality. Asahi CleanPrint flexographic plates are also ideal for fixed colour palette printing, a method that is increasingly being adopted to save time and money while still delivering the quality brands expect. This is made possible by the precise registration of Asahi CleanPrint plates.

Visitors to the Asahi stand at drupa 2020 will be able to get a first look at the new recycling unit to learn more about how it works, its environmental benefits, and the ease with which Asahi platemaking systems can be incorporated into any flexographic workflow with significant time to market and OEE benefits.

“We have even more on our agenda to introduce at drupa 2020,” Niederstadt adds. “Our goal is to continue to bring improved flexographic platemaking solutions to market that position flexo even more competitively with other printing technologies, continuing to grow its market share in packaging printing around the globe.”

 

Techkon – Make The Switch

Are You Ready to Make the Switch? We Make it Easy

Let’s face it, the “switch” is on! At Techkon, they live it, breath it, and sell it every day. Printers in all markets and of all sizes are making the switch from other color management devices and software to newer Techkon solutions. We could go on and on and explain all of the reasons like more innovative products, unlimited customer support, and dedicated customer support. However, that’s not what this blog is about. Instead, this blog is to explain how Techkon can help you make the “switch”. Printers are thrilled to learn about the advantages of Techkon products, but to some, making the “switch” sometimes seems like a daunting task. So, here are the 3 top reasons why some customers dread making the “switch” and how Techkon can make it far easier than you might have imagined.

Customer Worry #1 – Will those new Techkon devices measure the same way as my current color management devices?

Solution – It turns out that Techkon devices are manufactured to be traceable to the same industry standards as other popular color management devices. As a result, new SpectroDens instruments measure almost as close to a competing device as they do to each other. This is big news and this means you don’t have to worry any more about scenarios where (1) color standards were originally created with a competing device or (2) using a mixture of a competing device and SpectroDens instruments across your color production workflow.

Customer Worry #2 – What about all my instruments and software that already have all of my color standards loaded into them?

Solution – No worries! Techkon is here to help and can migrate all of your color standards for you. This is part of the service you can expect from Techkon when making the “switch”. Their color experts can export your color standards out of your current software systems and install them in your new Techkon hardware and software so you don’t have to worry about this one. In fact, if they can get your color standards ahead of time, and can even install them on any new instruments you purchase before it’s shipped out to you! How’s that for easy?

Customer Worry #3 – How am I going to train everyone on using new Techkon hardware and software products?

Solution – First, Techkon designs all of its’ products to be intuitive and easy to use. This is their first design principle and they strive for excellence here. Second, Techkon offers unlimited technical support on their products. Your satisfaction and delight using our products and services is truly their goal here. Techkon offers remote, live training services, video tutorials, and telephone support until your team is fully trained and you are comfortable waving goodbye to your old tools. That’s their promise to you.

Hamilton Adhesive Labels Reduces Makeready Time By 30% With Asahi AWP

Incredibly Consistent Technology and World-Class Quality

Tokyo/Brussels, 23 September 2019 – Asahi Photoproducts, a pioneer in flexographic photopolymer plate development, today reported that Hamilton Adhesive Labels Ltd., a leading converter of printed and plain labels for the food & drink, industrial, automotive, personal and household care markets with an annual turnover in excess of £12 million, has chosen Asahi AWP™ water-washable flexographic plates with CleanPrint. Hamilton operates from a 40,000 square foot manufacturing and warehousing facility centrally located in Bardon, Leicestershire, with a dedicated team of more than 65 people focused on product and service excellence.

Upon joining the company in 2016, Operations Director Paul Larkin, an industry veteran with more than 44 years of experience, was tasked with helping to make the business more sustainable and to identify low-cost changes that could have high productivity impact using his Measurement and Control philosophy, designed to deliver a predictive system that ensures “right first time” performance with world-class quality. He then formed a Formula One (F1) pit stop team tasked with optimizing productivity based on the new predictive system. He states, “Unless you can demonstrate a level of quality, the market is limited for any company.” Over his first year, Larkin examined every phase of the flexographic printing process, including flexographic plates, seeking ways he could improve it.

Larkin tested a wide variety of flexographic plates in his search for the perfect plate, testing them with thousands of meters of print. The ultimate choice was the Asahi AWP™ water-washable plates with Asahi CleanPrint, provided via the company’s repro house partner, Creation Reprographics.

“There is nothing out there like the Asahi AWP™ plates,” Larkin states. “They deliver a great tonal range and the dots are very stable.” He notes that ink on standard flexographic plates can be drawn to the shoulder of the dot, which can have a significant impact on running speed with frequent plate cleaning stops. “Using Asahi AWP™ plates with CleanPrint, it is completely different,” he explains. “The ink is somehow drawn to the tip of the dot, and the press is able to print continually without stopping for plate cleaning. It’s an incredibly consistent technology with world-class quality. It’s been a vital element of our quest to ‘get print right the first time!’”

Award Winning Performance

Not only has the company achieved a reduction in makeready time following its conversion to Asahi AWP™ plates with CleanPrint, but quality was also significantly improved as evidenced by awards its output has achieved. These include an EFIA Gold Award in the promotional category for a Crystal London label and the two Flexotech awards Best Print and Supreme (Best in Show) Awards. “This is the first time we have won this king of awards,” Larkin proudly reports. In presenting the award for Best Print, the judges stated, “Incredible vignettes to paper white, smallest dots ever seen in flexo, sharp text and high colour density. A superb promoter of flexo.” This praise was echoed in the judges’ statement with regard to the Supreme (Best in Show) Award: “We’ve been impressed at first glance; and the more we were checking the quality, the more we were convinced to be looking at a really ‘first in class’ piece of work.”

Benefits Of Asahi CleanPrint

Asahi CleanPrint is designed to facilitate kiss touch printing pressure. Lighter printing pressure ensures constant repeatability of printing quality during the production run as well as longer plate life. This characteristic is achieved with unique Asahi-engineered photopolymer chemistry that reduces the surface energy of the printing plate and enables better ink transfer to the substrate during printing.

CleanPrint has the beneficial effect of reducing ink filling in the mid-tone area during the printing run, leading to fewer cleaning intervals and shorter press downtime for a highly sustainable flexographic printing process. Dr. Dieter Niederstadt, Asahi’s Technical Marketing Manager, notes, “Our customers, including Hamilton Adhesive Labels, are ecstatic about the quality of print they can deliver while also benefiting from reduced makeready time and improvement in OEE.”

Bright Future Ahead

Larkin sees a bright future for Hamilton Adhesive Labels and for the industry at large. “At Hamilton,” he says, “the combination of high quality printing components, including plates, inks and more, in combination with a sustainable company culture that operates from a Measure and Control philosophy with dedicated and talented employees on our F1 team, is driving the quality and price/performance of label manufacturing beyond that of any other printing technology available in the market. We are pleased to be working with Creation Reprographics and Asahi Photoproducts as critical partners that are helping us achieve our goals, win those prestigious awards, and look ahead to even more advances in the future.”

Asahi CleanPrint – Clean and in balance with the environment

Re-post from asahi-photoproducts.com

As regulatory agencies around the world place more stringent focus on environmental sustainability, Asahi Photoproducts continues to innovate platemaking technology with a solution that aims to produce plates in an office-type environment, processing photopolymer reducing VOC’s into the atmosphere. CleanPrint plates use less ink, emitting fewer VOCs in the pressroom. There is less makeready waste and waste due to plate cleaning press stops, adding even more environmental sustainability to the process. And more efficient throughput means less energy consumption. Not only does this help with regulatory compliance, it creates a safer, cleaner work environment for employees.

In fact, CleanPrint plates can be produced in an office-type environment, processing photopolymer without introducing VOC’s into the atmosphere.

GOLDEN ERA RECOGNIZED WITH AWARD FROM FLEXOGRAPHIC TECHNICAL ASSOCIATION OF SOUTH AFRICA, USING ASAHI AFP-TOP PLATES

Re-Post from Asahi-Photoproducts.com

Tokyo, Japan & Brussels, Belgium, December 14, 2015 – Asahi Photoproducts, a pioneer in flexographic photopolymer plate development, is pleased to announce that its customer, Golden Era, is a 2015 recipient of the Flexographic Technical Association of South Africa’s (FTASA) Best of Show Print Excellence Award. The company was recognized for packaging it produced for Kellogg’s Coco Pops using Asahi AFP-TOP plates. Asahi customers walked away with a total of seven awards.

The FTASA Print Excellence Awards have been held in South Africa since 1997; first under the auspices of the Institute of Packaging and later independently. This competition focuses on printing quality and not innovation, design or origination, although the printer’s skill in implementing these is taken into consideration. A total of 23 companies entered the competition with a total of 166 entries which were spread over 10 categories, many of which were subdivided into line and tone and process working. Some categories, like paper, were further subdivided into coated and uncoated. A total of 51 awards were made. The judges set their standards very high and any blemish or mark, poor transfer, less than perfect register or non-compliance with the requirements are bases for rejection. Magnifiers are regularly used to examine dot integrity, ink lay down and -transfer.

With respect to Golden Era’s Best of Show award, the judges commented, “The multicolour registration issues created by the design for this entry are well-handled. Smooth and even gradations, fine highlight dots and good solids with solids and halftones on the same plate are all achieved with water-based inks. The Kellogg’s Coco Pops print was therefore judged ‘as close as you can get to perfect.’”

Another Asahi customer, New Era Labels, reaped two Gold awards. With regard to the Nola Tangy Mayonnaise Dressing shrink sleeve entry, the judges commented, “The entry achieves excellent ink laydown, particularly for the gold.” They also applauded the smooth, fine highlight
dots. “Smooth fine highlight dots is one of the differentiation factors making a difference between Asahi Pinning Top Dot plates and plates from other manufacturers,” said Dieter Niederstadt, Technical Marketing Manager for Asahi Photoproducts, “largely as a result of the inherent capability of Asahi plates to deliver High Definition Clean Transfer of ink.” The award of a second Gold medal to New Era Labels for its OK Soup Powder package demonstrates this point, with the judges praising the density of all of the colours and “magnificent, clean positive type.”

In addition to the above awards, the following entries printed using Asahi plates secured medal awards.

• Ellis Brown Creamer 1Kg – Silver Award – AFP TOP (Golden Era Printers)

• Spar White Onion Soup 65g – Silver Award – AFP DSH

• Lux Wake Me Up 400ml – Silver Award – AFP TOP (New Era Labels)

• Kellogg’s Fruit Loops 350g – Bronze Award – AFP TOP (Job moved from Litho to Flexo) (Golden Era Printers)

“Print quality has historically been a focus for this prestigious award,” says David Galton, Asahi European Sales Director. “It is that print quality that is helping to accelerate growth in flexographic printing, bringing flexo quality on a level with offset and gravure. We are honoured that our plates played a role in enabling Golden Era and other Asahi customers to be recognized with these awards. It is especially rewarding in light of the stringency of the judging criteria.”

Asahi’s solvent-washable AFP-TOP flexo plates embody a unique design that ensures the highest possible quality print with the least amount of press downtime. Its Pinning Top Dot Technology ensures exceptional print performance and enhanced press profitability, as demonstrated by the quality of Golden Era’s submission.

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