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.
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.
Tokyo, Japan, & Brussels, Belgium, June 29, 2016 – Asahi Photoproducts, a pioneer in flexographic photopolymer plate development, today congratulates its customer, the DS Smith plant in Fulda. DS Smith, a leading display & packaging supplier, is the recipient of two prestigious awards from the FTA Europe Diamond Awards. The company was recognized with a diamond first in the Super Wide Web Flexo Print on Paper category and also Best in Show due to the outstanding printing quality for its pre-printed liners produced for Henkell & Co. Sektkellerei KG. The inaugural FTA Europe Diamond Awards ceremony was held at the Hyatt Hotel in Düsselsdorf, 2nd June 2016, during the drupa 2016 exhibition.
The FTA Diamond Awards recognizes companies that have been Gold Award winners in their respective countries. DS Smith had achieved gold in a category of the EFIA UK awards in March and was then put forward to participate in the FTA Awards.
“We submitted printing samples for pre-printed liner we created for Henkell & Co. Sektkellerei KG. These images were printed in very high quality that compares favorably with conventional offset-printed packaging,” said Steffen Blankenburg, print production manager at the DS Smith plant in Fulda.
In producing the packaging, DS Smith strove to achieve a close match to the brilliance normally achieved with offset printing, but using fixed color palette 4-color flexography. “The challenge was to reach high brilliance comparable to offset printing. We were able to do this through a combination of the prepress expertise of our well qualified employees and the quality enabled by using Asahi’s AFP-TOPTM plates with Pinning Technology for Clean Transfer.” added Jan Brandtner, plant manager at DS Smith Pre-Press Services GmbH.
“This terrific achievement was the result of a very fruitful collaboration between Asahi and DS Smith over the last six months,” said David Galton, Sales Director for Asahi Photoproducts. “We are proud to have been part of this process and extend our hearty congratulations to DS Smith for this prestigious recognition.”
More than 200 like-minded individuals from across the European flexographic community came together to celebrate the best of flexography during the event. In addition to well-deserved recognition of exceptional performance, it was an ideal opportunity to celebrate the vibrancy and competitiveness of flexography whilst providing a perfect forum for colleagues to network.
Tokyo, Japan & Brussels, Belgium, 24 January 2017 – About eight years ago, Belarus-based Uniflex began its journey to enhance quality and competitive advantage through the use of fixed colour palette printing (also called Extended Colour Gamut printing), using a fixed set of inks to replace most, if not all, requirements for spot colour inks. Uniflex is one of the largest flexographic printing companies in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Eastern Europe. The company offers a wide range of high quality flexible packaging such as vacuum bags, pouches, sachets, roll packaging, and self-adhesive labels in up to 10 colours and using a variety of materials.
“We saw fixed colour palette printing as the next milestone in quality and efficiency for flexographic printing,” said Eugen Lungin, Production Manager of Uniflex. “We worked to assemble a suite of industry-leading solutions to position us at the forefront of modern printing techniques to better serve our existing customer base and to expand our global footprint. Our partnership with Asahi Photoproducts was essential to our success in achieving these goals.”
Uniflex chose to use Asahi’s AFPTM-TOP and AWPTM flexographic plates with Pinning Technology for Clean Transfer, finding them to be the ideal plate choices for Full HD Flexo production. “Our customers have strict requirements relative to the quality of their printing,” added Eugen Lungin. “We are always striving to take advantage of the latest innovations in flexography in order to meet and exceed customer expectations, and fixed colour palette printing is definitely one of those innovations. High quality, eye-catching, yet functional packaging is what our brand owners are looking for, and plates from Asahi Photoproducts are a vital enabler for us to achieve that and more.”
Pinning Technology for Clean Transfer is a unique plate technology specifically engineered to transfer all remaining ink to the print substrate due to the photopolymer plates having a lower surface energy than other plates on the market. It is an ideal technology for fixed colour palette printing. Not only does this deliver stunning graphical quality, but it also
improves overall production efficiencies due to reduced make-ready waste and fewer press wash-ups. In fact, independent testing reflects that Asahi plates with Pinning Technology for Clean Transfer deliver at least a 26% improvement in Operational Equipment Effectiveness (OEE).
“We began our fixed colour palette printing journey with Asahi’s AFPTM-TOP plates after a thorough market review, and found they had the best and most consistent ink transfer from start to finish during production runs. We subsequently added AWPTMwater-washable plates to take advantage of their precise plate-to-plate register, fast platemaking time and environmental benefits to round out our plate portfolio, for the best of all worlds in fixed colour palette flexographic printing.”
“Uniflex is a delight to work with,” said Martin Wohlschlegel, Sales Manager Key Accounts and Emerging Markets at Asahi Photoproducts Europe. “Their dedication to quality and environmental sustainability, and their heritage of innovation in the flexographic printing process, sets them apart and bodes well for their future success. We look forward to an ongoing relationship that is mutually beneficial.”
“With the implementation of fixed colour palette printing and our use of Asahi AWPTM and AFPTM-TOP plates,” Eugen Lungin concluded, “we not only have the cost and productivity benefits of fixed colour palette printing, but we also are able to achieve higher line screens and extremely brilliant colours without any compromise in colour stability. Homogenous ink transfer makes it nearly impossible to distinguish our fixed colour palette flexo printing from the highest quality gravure. We are now technically able to provide high-end printing quality that meets the expectations of even the most demanding customers while benefiting from improved OEE!”
Since Asahi first brought to market its innovative flexographic plate technology that enabled complete release of ink onto the substrate for a cleaner image and fewer press stops for plate cleaning, our thoughts about the value of the technology have evolved. Our customers remember that we initially called this technology Pinning Top Dot technology, since we were thinking about it from a technological perspective. Over time, we began to realize, based on customer experience, that the value went well beyond the ink transfer to the increased quality and productivity it enabled when looking at the entire process from the plate room to the press room. We also wanted a naming convention that was more descriptive; thus, the naming changed to Clean Transfer Technology.
Now, after several years of field experience with this technology, and as we migrate it to other plates within our portfolio to address a wider array of applications, we have come to understand that the value of the technology goes way beyond the quality and productivity benefits it enables. There are significant environmental benefits as well, especially with our water-washable family of
plates. Not only does it eliminate the need for volatile washout solvents in the platemaking process, speed up the process to consume less energy and deliver the same high quality and press productivity (OEE) our customers have come to expect, but the technology reduces makeready times and waste as well as the amount of time the press needs to run. All of these benefits add up to a much cleaner platemaking and flexographic printing process than can be achieved with any other plates on the market. CleanPrint embodies all of these things and aims to make flexographic printing “CLEANER”.
That means that using Asahi’s AWPTM family of water washable flexo plates delivers significant benefit, from both a quality and sustainability perspective. Water washable plates are now well-positioned to completely replace solvent-based platemaking workflows for most applications. This results in faster platemaking, improved OEE on press, higher quality and longer lasting plates, reduced or eliminated VOCs, and no need to manage or dispose of toxic chemicals.
CleanPrint plates from Asahi, then, not only produce cleaner printed images, but they do so in a much cleaner, more environmentally balanced way. Some of the benefits include:
Significantly reduced platemaking and on-press time results in a reduction in power consumption.
Plates last longer and don’t require press stops for cleaning, further improving press OEE.
Faster run up to color and more consistency throughout the run means less waste of expensive packaging substrates.
Full transfer of the ink from CleanPrint plates to the substrate creates significantly higher printing quality at less cost.
Elimination of VOC solvents in the plate processor also making the workplace safer in better balance with the environment.
The absolute best way to make flexographic printing a CLEANER technology (and more profitable!)
Tokyo/Brussels, 28 May 2019 – Asahi Photoproducts, a pioneer in flexographic photopolymer plate development, today reported it will be again exhibiting at Labelexpo Europe, scheduled for 24 to 27 September in Brussels. Asahi will be located on Stand 5a34 at the show and will be displaying its full array of flexographic plates. Featured at the show will be Asahi’s CleanPrint™, a technology which has evolved over time to become the industry benchmark for CLEAN flexographic printing.
“Since Asahi first brought to market its innovative flexographic plate technology, which enabled complete release of ink onto the substrate for a cleaner image and fewer press stops for plate cleaning, our thoughts about the value of the technology have evolved,” said Dr. Dieter Niederstadt, Asahi’s Technical Marketing Manager. “Not only do we continue to improve our plate quality and performance, but we have also learned from our customers that the value of the technology goes way beyond the quality and productivity benefits it enables. Not only does it eliminate the need for volatile solvents in the platemaking process, speed up the process to consume less energy and deliver the same high quality and press productivity (OEE) our customers have come to expect, but the technology reduces makeready times and waste as well as the amount of time the press needs to run. All of these benefits add up to a much cleaner platemaking and flexographic printing process than can be achieved with any other plates on the market.”
Attendees will learn how Asahi CleanPrint™ significantly improves Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) across the entire flexographic production process
Tokyo/Brussels, May 23, 2019 – Asahi Photoproducts, a pioneer in flexographic photopolymer plate development, today announced it is again attending and sponsoring EskoWorld 2019, scheduled for 24 to 26 June in Nashville, Tennessee. During the event, Asahi representatives will be speaking with attendees about the OEE advantages of Asahi AWP™ water-washable plates, as well as their effect on improved environmental sustainability.
“We began using Asahi AWPTM-DEF plates in 2010,” said Gene Martin, Plant Manager at The Robinette Company’s Bristol TN plant. “At the time, it was taking us three hours for the platemaking process with solvent plates. With the Asahi AWPTM-DEF plates, the first time out in the platemaking process was one hour, with each additional plate in 20 minutes, increasing our platemaking capacity by 33%.” Since Robinette only uses Asahi plates, this is a substantial time saving in the plate room.
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.”
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.