Asahi and Esko Unveil Breakthrough Automated Flexo Platemaking Solution

CrystalCleanConnect - The Future of Flexo Plate Making

Tokyo, Japan & Brussels, Belgium, April 21, 2021 – Asahi Photoproducts and Esko have showcased their breakthrough, fully automated flexo platemaking line CrystalCleanConnect at this year’s virtual.drupa event.

Click the button below to view a pdf slideshow of the the launch of the CrystalCleanConnect at DRUPA:

Asahi Photoproducts, a pioneer in flexographic photopolymer plate development, has collaborated with Esko, the global developer of integrated software and hardware solutions for the packaging and labels markets, on the innovative flexo platemaking solution. CrystalCleanConnect fully automates the entire flexo plate production, from imaging to plate cutting, reducing the number of steps in the flexo platemaking process from 12 to just one which equates to a reduction from 36 min operator plate making time to only 2.5 min.

“With CrystalCleanConnect we have brought together key hardware and software technologies from both organizations to deliver a number of breakthrough advantages from design to print,” said Pascal Thomas, Director of Flexo Business with Esko. “CrystalCleanConnect delivers a cleaner, more environmentally balanced operation that simplifies the flexo platemaking process, improves safety and boosts print quality consistency.”

According to Pascal, CrystalCleanConnect offers operational as well as environmental benefits to businesses. “With the removal of so many process steps, there’s an immediate 90% reduction in required operator time, which not only eliminates the potential for human error but also delivers immediate efficiency gains. Quality is assured through Asahi and Esko technologies working in complete harmony, and the combination of improved efficiency and quality delivers an average increase of 25% in press OEE.”

A holistic approach to connecting technologies

Dieter Niederstadt, Technical Marketing Manager for Asahi Photoproducts stated: “Flexo needs to simplify its processes while improving quality, consistency and profitability. In doing so, flexo can create new business opportunities and positively transform into a printing technology in balance with the environment”. “This breakthrough innovation is different in many ways to other solutions on the market,” Dieter said. “It is not just an assembly of available plate making processes delivered inline, but rather a holistic approach to connecting technologies, up and downstream of the prepress value chain, using an intelligent automation hub as the backbone and heart of the solution. CCC is truly pushing boundaries to the current scope of plate automation delivering a mount-ready plate as well as being the first automated production solution without the need of VOC based washout solvents in the plate making process.”

Pascal Thomas added: “At Esko, we have long been dedicated to improving the platemaking experience, in terms of quality, productivity and connectivity. Together with Asahi Photoproducts, we are taking the flexo platemaking process to a brand-new level, enabling our customers to be even more competitive while also ensuring they can meet today’s demands for flexible and sustainable supply. With CrystalCleanConnect, our ultimate objective is to improve our customers’ overall business performance and profitability.”

Visit www.asahi-photoproducts.com/en/CCC and www.esko.com for more information.

Bringing Pre-Press Home: Closing the Gap in the Printed Package Value Chain

As digital technologies progressed in offset, the printing industry saw a rapid migration of plate making from outside resources to on-site production.

The same thing is positioned to occur in flexography, as technology has evolved to streamline and simplify the plate making process. Flexographic converters in the labels and packaging space are in a growth business. Still, they face a number of challenges in a highly competitive marketplace. At the same time, they confront challenges from alternative technologies such as offset and gravure printing. Customers are increasingly looking for shorter and more varied runs, faster delivery times, and, of course, a competitive cost structure. Plus, the interest in a more sustainable environmental footprint on the part of brands and consumers is growing.

There are a number of technological developments underway in flexography that will help flexographic printers meet these tests and retain existing customers while also acquiring new ones. One such development is being demonstrated through the Turnkey Project, hosted by Comexi, in which Asahi Photoproducts is a partner. The Turnkey Project is designed to demonstrate the value of bringing flexographic plate making in-house to flexible packaging converters. Today’s technology makes it easy.

For the flexographic printing operation, bringing plate making in-house is one way to improve operational efficiency by providing more control over the cost, scheduling and timeframes for making plates. It also makes it faster for replacement plates to be made when required, reducing press downtime and keeping jobs running through the plant more efficiently. But in the past, making high-quality flexographic plates could be tricky, deterring many printers from bringing the operation in-house. This project demonstrates how that is changing.

Beyond this project, our industry is focused on bringing even more automation and operational efficiency to the flexographic prepress process, adding to the contributions already made to improved quality, profitability and sustainability.

The faster and more efficiently a press-ready print form can be generated, the more flexibility a plant will have in what it can produce. But as always, quality is a key consideration and must be balanced with efficiency for a holistic approach to the process of producing press-ready print forms.

By removing even more manual touches from the flexographic plate making process, we will be able to deliver a more efficient and profitable prepress process, as well as a high level of standardization through automation, thereby reducing the skill level required for operators in an environment where skilled prepress operators are often hard to find.

Among the resulting benefits, the process speeds production times, allowing companies to produce more jobs in a day with the same or less labor, while simultaneously reducing the opportunity for costly errors along the way. That’s the vision the next generation of flexographic prepress solutions will be about.

Turnkey Project Details

An important milestone on the route toward this vision for Asahi and several other industry partners is our participation in the Comexi Turnkey Project at its Manel Xifra Boada Technology Center in Girona, Spain. The project features water wash equipment and water washable plates with CleanPrint technology. Water wash processors are generally considered to be more in harmony with the environment than conventional solvent systems. Many, in fact, credit them with producing plates that achieve the highest level of quality in flexographic printing.

In addition, the water wash process is much faster than solvent. While it may take up to two hours for solvent-based plates to dry, Asahi’s complete AWP plate making process, serving as one example, delivers a plate to the mounting department in less than one hour. That same example plate is specifically engineered to transfer all remaining ink to the printed substrate, reducing makeready time and press cleaning stops.

The Manel Xifra Boada Technology Center—Comexi CTec—specializes in training, advice and technical process support for the printing and converting sectors of the flexible packaging industry. It has incorporated into its portfolio this new service, whose objective is to help flexographic printing operations integrate the prepress process, from ground zero, into their own facilities.

The project culminates once the client independently completes the prepress process while adhering to all defined quality standards. The estimated time to complete the project is approximately six months.

Word on Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)

In any industry, Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) is a measurement of the performance of a machine. It’s a calculation—OEE = Availability x Performance x Quality—that delivers a percentage. OEE is a fact-based way to measure the efficiency of your operation and identify ways to continuously improve it over time.

Print production inefficiencies can occur due to a combination of elements, such as printing shift length, press makeready time, press stop downtimes, actual press speed, run lengths and total material waste.

The OEE calculation provides focus and simplicity to decision making, in respect to availability, performance and quality produced. Having measured all three elements, a focus for improvement in the OEE percentage figure can be established. The higher the OEE percentage is, the more effective your printing shop becomes. The higher the OEE, the better the impact is to the bottom line. Plus, inherent in a higher OEE is an increase in customer satisfaction and retention.

Calculating OEE is not rocket science; it’s easy to understand and involves calculating press availability, performance and quality. For more information on the calculation of OEE, request an easy-to-use OEE calculator by contacting CTGA today.

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”.

Increase Your Software Knowledge With Free Esko E-Learning

Good training offers many benefits to your company. It enhances your skills and increases your productivity – thus increasing return on investment.

Take a look at Esko software e-Learning.
All the content is available for free and you can follow it whenever you want.
All you need is an Esko ID. Don’t have an Esko ID yet?

Click here to get it.

E-Learning Advantages

  • Study at your own pace and at any place
  • No travel cost
  • Return to the training as often as you like
  • Get to know Esko software products before installation

Start Your E-Learning Journey

When you have your Esko ID, you're all set to start!

CTGA: Celebrating 20 Years Of Being Your Source For Quality Flexo Plates

It Began With A Simple Goal

For 20 years now, CTGA has been a top source for Flexo Plate Material and flexographic printing products and equipment in North America.

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.

From there we built out the rest of our product catalog with products and equipment from the top brands in the world, Esko, Glunz & Jensen, Tesa, Techkon,  Beta Industries, CGS Oris and our own Green Dragon line.  Together with our complete line of Asahi flexo plates and equipment, we believe we offer the best and most comprehensive product catalog in the business.  And, our clients’ success over the years backs that up.

Asahi Flexo Plates

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.

AWP-DEF

Asahi AWP Water Wash Flexo Plate

AFP-TOP

AFP-DSF

Introducing Green Dragon Products By CTGA

We Carry The Top Brands In The World

ESKO

TESA

Techkon

GLUNZ & JENSEN

BETA INDUSTRIES

CGS ORIS

ASAHI PHOTOPRODUCTS TO EXHIBIT AT LABELEXPO AMERICAS

Repost from asahi-photoproducts.com

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.”

Read complete article on asahi-photoproducts.com

Asahi Photoproducts to showcase its Clean Transfer Technology at Gallus Innovation Days

Tokyo, Japan & Brussels, Belgium, May 29, 2018 – Asahi Photoproducts, a pioneer in flexographic photopolymer plate development, today announced it will be attending Gallus Innovation Days for the first time. The event takes place in St. Gallen, Switzerland, from 26 to 28 June 2018, the third Open House event hosted by the well-known Swiss manufacturer. Asahi Photoproducts will be showing its AWP™ DEF/DEW plate solutions featuring Clean Transfer Technology, exhibiting in Hall 1 as a Gallus partner.

“Gallus is without doubt a leading manufacturer of flexo presses for labels, continually broadening its portfolio,” says Dr. Dieter Niederstadt, Technical Marketing Manager at Asahi. “We believe there is great potential for synergies with Gallus in terms of innovation and quality. Our popular water washable AWP™ plates are industry leaders in UV flexo printing and are especially suitable for printing operations who wish to produce their plates in-house.”

Asahi’s Clean Transfer Technology has been developed with fixed colour palette printing in mind, delivering the quality and precise register this printing technique requires. All future Asahi plates will be equipped with Clean Transfer Technology, delivering the outstanding quality and overall equipment efficiency (OEE) demanded by leading converters in a highly competitive market.

Asahi’s AWP™ DEF/DEW 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.

Clean Transfer for real-life flexo applications

Colognia Press, based in the Czech Republic, has recently discovered how AWP™ plates with Clean Transfer Technology can lead to significantly higher productivity in flexo printing. The company uses Gallus presses and water washable flexo plates and was able to increase machine availability by 110%, simply by switching to an Asahi plate production system. The previous flexo printing plates had caused lengthy downtimes for plate cleaning and changing. The Asahi solution enables Colognia Press to print practically any job up to several kilometres long without having to stop the machine. Even a 22-hour job ran without interruption from start to finish, maintaining consistent quality with the same set of plates.

Gateway Packaging Company improves Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE) with Asahi Photoproducts AWP™ Water-Washable Plates by 53%

Unique Clean Transfer technology of Asahi AWP™ plates improves quality, productivity

Tennessee-based Gateway Packaging Company has chosen to partner with CTGA and Asahi Photoproducts after an exhaustive search for an improved platemaking process.

Gateway operates three manufacturing locations serving the United States and Canada and produces packaging for consumer packaged goods manufacturers and industrial packaging for the food, agricultural, chemical and charcoal industries.

As a leading high-end printer/packaging converter and the largest pet food packaging provider in North America, Gateway Packaging is continually seeking ways to improve products and solve problems for its customers. By switching to Asahi AWP™ flexographic plates with Clean Transfer, the company has taken another step long its path of continuous improvement. Gateway also installed an Asahi AWP 1116 PD Processor as part of the revamping of its platemaking process.

“With the variety of flexographic plates and platemaking 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 the top two, including Asahi Photoproducts. As a final test, we ran a number of production jobs using plates generated by CTGA to compare efficiency with our current process, and we were very pleased with the results achieved using the Asahi solutions.”

The production test was run on an F&K 20six flexographic press using 40-pound coated white paper and solvent inks, with a run length of 675,000 feet (205,200 meters). The press ran at 1,400 feet per minute (427 m/min.). The run using competitive plates experienced a total 

production time of 483 minutes or 11 hours with a total plate cleaning time of 177 minutes and a requirement to clean plates every 2.5 rolls of media at 32 minutes per time.

“When running the Asahi plates,” Akers explained, “we were able to run the press at a 17% higher speed – 1,640 feet per minute (500 m/min.) – and only had to stop for plate cleaning once. And that only required cleaning two plates, consuming 20 minutes. The result was a total production time of 432 minutes or 7.2 hours and an astonishing 53% improvement in Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE).”

As a result of these tests, Gateway decided to make a significant investment in a new platemaking department, implementing Asahi Photoproducts AWP™ water-washable plates and adding a Kongsberg cutting table, a Glunz & Jensen Concept 401 ECLF Exposure Unit, and the Asahi Photoproducts AWP™ 1116 PD Processor. Gateway estimated a payback period of 10 months for this significant investment based on the productivity and quality gains it would deliver.

 

The result was a total production time of 432 minutes or 7.2 hours and an astonishing 53% improvement in Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE).

Asahi AWP™ plates feature Clean Transfer Technology, which allows a kiss-touch printing pressure setting. It makes use of low plate surface tension, made possible by a specially engineered Asahi polymer chemistry, to inhibit liquid flow. The ink forms a globule, with a large contact angle and high pinning point. This results in a cleaner and more homogeneous ink transfer from plate to substrate, helping flexographic printers meet the ever-increasing quality demands of their customers. It also ensures precise register and fewer press stops for cleaning or plate changes, increasing Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE).

Pictured:  Tharrin Akers, Prepress Manager Gatweay (left), David Bell, Technical Sales Representative CTGA (right)

Looking To Bring Platemaking In-House?

If you’ve been considering bringing platemaking in-house, Correct-Touch Graphic Arts can make it happen.  Not only do we carry platemaking equipment, supplies and plate material from the top brands in the industry, but we also provide you with a one-stop resource for consultation, installation, maintenance and service.

When you work with CTGA we become your partner in the success of your business! Contact us today and get started.

CTGA IS WITH YOU FROM EVERY STEP OF THE WAY
  • We will consult with you to determine the optimum room size, layout and ventilation requirements
  • We will offer ways to reduce VOC’s in the plant
  • We will work with you to determine the most cost effective equipment
  • We will install your equipment for you
  • We will test various plate materials to determine what works best on press
  • We will train your plate making staff in the proper steps to make a great plate
  • We will show you how to print better, by optimizing the printing plate process
  •  We will work with your pre press provider to optimize art files, using the latest screening technologies and press characterization software. 
  •  Will help you fingerprint all of your press lines, ink sets and substrates as part of bringing the Asahi plate in house 
  •  Provide ongoing training to platemaking and pre press personnel

Asahi Customers Sweep Flexographic Technical Association of South Africa Awards

Judges praised tight register, successful combination of solids and screens on the same plate and more

Tokyo, Japan & Brussels, Belgium, February 23, 2017 – Asahi Photoproducts, a pioneer in flexographic photopolymer plate development, is pleased to announce that its customers claimed a total of 24 awards, including eight Gold awards, in the 2016 Flexographic Technical Association of South Africa awards competition.

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. Judges in this competition apply very high standards in the judging process.

“We were extremely pleased with the performance of our customers in this prestigious awards competition and extend our congratulations to them,” said Dieter Niederstadt, Technical Marketing Manager for Asahi Photoproducts. “A common comment from the judges across many of the Asahi customers who were recognized with awards identified the tight register achieved with Asahi plates, as well as good solid ink laydown and very fine highlight dots, as key criteria in their analysis. In several cases, they also mentioned the ability to achieve fine dots and combined solids and halftones on the same plate. This feedback validates the efforts Asahi has made to bring best-in-class high-performance flexo plates to the market.”

Of particular note is the excellent performance of Golden Era Printers, who captured a total of 12 awards for New Era Labels, New Era Packaging and its Flexo Division, including four Gold awards. All Golden Era plates were made in-house, and the company used a variety of Asahi plates, demonstrating the value of the breadth of the Asahi product line in producing a wide range of quality applications.  These included Asahi TOPTM, DSHTM and DSETM flexographic plates.

Other Asahi customer award winners included:

  • Taurus Packaging with four awards. Plates used included Asahi TOP and DSF, and plates were produced by Polyflex.
  • Constantia Afripack DLC for its Tiger Brands Symphony Hazelnut White Chocolate flexible packaging, achieving a Silver award using Asahi TOPTM plates produced by Polyflex.
  • DCB Plastics for its Gold Award for Bob Martin Complete Condition Meaty Chunks Lamb Flavor (Dog Food, 1.75 kg) flexible packaging using Asahi TOPTM plates produced by Polyflex. In granting the award, the judges declared, “This job leaves very little room for error.” The company also received a silver award for the 8 kg version of Bob Martin Complete Condition Lamb Flavor dog food.
  • ITB Manufacturing received three awards, two Gold and one Silver. The company used Asahi TOP plates produced by Polyflex.
  • Flexible Packaging Converters used Asahi TOPTM plates produced by Polyflex to achieve a Bronze award.
  • Amcor Flexibles was awarded a Gold for its Spar Instant Full Cream Milk Powder flexible packaging produce with Asahi TOPTM plates from Polygraphics.

“This outstanding performance by these companies demonstrates that flexographic printing is here to stay and continues to evolve. We are proud of their hard work and happy to be able to contribute to their success,” says Sachin Sukhlal, Technical Sales Manager at Decoflex in South Africa, one of Asahi’s most successful distributors. “As packaging design becomes more complex and increasingly graphical, the ability to deliver perfect register and clean white highlights with good ink density and laydown in the solid areas is critical. Also, Asahi plates are unique in their ability to produce fine dots and combined solids and halftones using a single plate. All of this adds up to higher flexographic quality and improved OEE for faster cycle times and profitability.”

Asahi’s solvent-washable AFPTM-TOP flexo plates embody a unique design that ensures the highest possible quality print with the least amount of press downtime. Its Pinning Technology for Clean Transfer ensures exceptional print performance and enhanced press profitability. Asahi’s AFPTM-TOP flexo plates were used in 18 of the 24 award-winning applications.

1 2