Printing Plates and Their Impact on Sustainability

Original article from flexography.org

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
Left, a classic plate with a more hydrophilic surface; right, a Clean Transfer Technology plate with a more hydrophobic surface

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%

With less downtime, faster run-up to color, minimum waste, lower energy costs and consistent quality throughout the run, water-wash technology is improving flexography’s sustainability footprint. The experience at ProAmpac’s Gateway Packaging illustrates these points.

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.”

Read the complete article on flexography.org

 

 

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)

ASAHI PHOTOPRODUCTS TO BRING INNOVATION, EDUCATION TO LABELEXPO EUROPE 2017

A focus on Fixed Colour Palette printing: The future of flexography

Article from asahi-photoproducts.com

Tokyo, Japan & Brussels, Belgium, June 28, 2017 – Asahi Photoproducts will be showing its AWP™ of water-washable flexographic plate solutions featuring Pinning Technology for Clean Transfer at Labelexpo Europe 2017. Asahi will be located on Stand 5A34 at the show, scheduled for 25 to 28 September in Brussels.

“Labelexpo Europe is always a highlight in our show schedule,” states Akihiro Kato, Managing Director of Asahi Photoproducts Europe. “That is especially true this year as interest in higher quality and more efficient production of labels and packaging is heating up across Europe. At the show, our experts be on hand to help visitors better understand how Asahi AWP™ plates can improve OEE and profitability without any compromise in quality. Visitors to our stand will also be able to see printed application examples and get advice from our experts about the best plates for their individual needs.”

Asahi experts will also be available to speak with visitors about fixed colour palette printing, which uses a fixed palette of up to seven inks to virtually eliminate the need for spot colour inks. Because it uses a fixed set of inks, there is no wash-up required between jobs, and combo jobs are made easier. Asahi plates with Pinning Technology for Clean Transfer deliver the precise plate-to-plate register required to implement this printing process successfully. “In our opinion,” adds Mr. Kato “this is the future of flexography, especially for flexible packaging, and favourably positions flexography to compete with digital printing for all but the very shortest runs.”

At the show …

New at Labelexpo from Asahi Photoproducts is the AWP™-DEW plate solution, incorporating the renowned quality properties of AWP™-DEF plates with the addition of a faster plate processing speed, making this plate ideal for labels and packaging operations with higher plate throughput looking to achieve significant quality and OEE benefits.

Voice of the Customer

“Converters looking to move away from gravure and offset are truly surprised by what AWP can achieve,” according to Matt Francklow, Managing Director, Creation Reprographics. “We pioneered the Asahi AWP water washable plates technology in the UK from the outset. The plate delivers outstanding performance compared to other photopolymer plates on the market; … the number of repeat clients we now have on board all utilising the technology proves that its exceptional print accuracy and quality is appreciated.”

Another satisfied Asahi customer is Colognia Press, a Czech-based label converter, who needed to find a way to improve OEE. “With the flexo plates we were using, we had excessive stop times to clean or replace plates,” says Bohdan Holona, Manager of Desktop Publishing. “For long-run jobs, this meant half of the time to produce the job was downtime. And even for shorter runs, we were not happy with the consistency from beginning to end of the job, often requiring press stops to clean plates or otherwise adjust quality.” After looking at several alternate solutions, Holona reports the company chose to implement the Asahi AWP platemaking system. “Now,” he says, “We can run a full 10 kilometre job without stopping. We even ran a 22-hour job with one set of plates, no stops, and very consistent quality from beginning to end. It’s been amazing!”

Read the complete article

Asahi AWP – NO VOC’s! Boost Your Productivity, Efficiency & Sustainability

MAKE 2017 YOUR BEST YEAR YET

Improve your sustainability, productivity and efficiency with Asahi AWP

While flexography has always been a more efficient and cost-effective printing process, the challenge has been to close the quality gap between offset and gravure printing. Lately, another factor has come into play—the environmental impact of the product itself. A low product carbon footprint not only helps your company’s image—it also reduces energy consumption and its associated operating costs.

The challenge has been to create a more environmentally friendly plate making system without losing the benefits and advantages of quality or efficiency. Meeting that challenge, and surpassing all expectations is Asahi’s AWP Flexo Plates Material and Platemaking Equipment.

Let the Asahi AWP system make 2017 your company’s best year yet!

AWP 2530 Compact

The all new AWP™ 2530 Compact flexo plate processor is Asahi’s smallest AWP™ machine solution for manual operation.

AWP 2530 Auto

The new ALL-IN-ONE AWP™ 2530 Auto is designed for the challenging demand of the highest quality customer.

AWP 4835 P

The new Asahi AWP™ 4835 P plate processor is designed for the challenging demand of the middle size customer.

AWP-DEF Flexo Plate

Water washable plate with Asahi’s Pinning for Clean Transfer technology.

Traditionally, water washable plate quality has been considered second-best when compared to solvent plates. The Asahi AWP plate does more than match traditional solvent photopolymer plates—it outperforms the best digital plates currently available for flexo. For the first time a digital photopolymer plate can hold extremely small stable dots— smaller than those of solvent processed plates—and its stability on press is superior to solvent plates.

Contact CTGA Today & Make 2017 Your Best Year Yet

If you’re interested in learning more about the Asahi AWP Platemaking System, AWP Flexo Plates, AWP Equipment or any Asahi Flexo products distributed exclusively in the U.S. by CTGA, contact Correct-Touch Graphic Arts today and speak with one of our technical sales representatives.

Asahi and CTGA Help Label Impressions Produce Award Winning Label

Article from labelandnarrowweb.com

Orange County, CA-based Label Impressions took home the top prize in the Flexography – Line & Screen, Tone/Prime category at the recent 2016 TLMI Annual Label Awards competition. The company had recently completed several upgrades to improve its quality, sustainability and profitability in line with emerging industry trends.

“This recognition validates our investment decisions,” says Jeff Salisbury, CEO. “We have moved to a new 30,000-square-foot facility with electrical and landscaping upgrades that improved our efficiency and sustainability. We have been using Asahi TOP Premium flexo solvent-wash plates with Pinning Technology for Clean Transfer, which was a significant contributor to our ability to achieve this prestigious award. Our thanks go to Correct-Touch Graphic Arts (CTGA) and Asahi Photoproducts for their partnership and support.” Salisbury reports that Asahi and CTGA have been important partners as the company reconfigures its business. Both, quality and throughput were improved by the Asahi TOP Premium plates, making this award possible.

After a recent installation of a new Asahi AWP 230W Water Wash Plate Making System, the company also expects to reduce VOC’s by 85%, setting a new milestone for Label Impressions in terms of quality and environmental sustainability. “In addition,” he adds, “gray water from the water wash system will be used to drip irrigate our landscaping, important in California where water is precious and conservation is a must.”

The winning label printed with TOP featured high-resolution graphics as well as small type that needed to be extremely legible to comply with regulations and ensure brand integrity. “Our congratulations go out to Label Impressions and our distributor, CTGA, for this honor,” says Dieter Niederstadt, Technical Marketing Manager at Asahi Photoproducts. “We are pleased to be able to support our customers, helping them to stay ahead of the game and maintain a competitive advantage while also being considerate of the environment. Label Impressions is a great example of this partnership at work.”

Read more at labelandnarrowweb.com

UK-Based Flexoshop Spurs Business Growth with Asahi AWP Water-Washable Flexographic Plates

Original article from Asahi Photoproducts

Tokyo, Japan & Brussels, Belgium, 13. October 2016 – Asahi Photoproducts, a pioneer in flexographic photopolymer plate development, today announced that Flexoshop, a repro and platemaking house based in Colchester, Essex, UK, has moved its plate production from Flat Top Dot plates to the premium quality Asahi AWP flexographic plate system. Designed for high quality print performance, the AWP water washable plate outperforms the best digital plates currently available for flexo and produces higher quality than Flat Top Dot plates. For the first time, a digital photopolymer plate can hold extremely small stable dots – smaller than those of solvent processed plates – and its stability on press is superior to solvent plates, with numerous associated environmental and waste reduction benefits. Its precise register ensures faster make ready and reduced waste on press.

Managing Director Simon Drane says, “What spurred me to make the move was a printer client who had to outsource his highest quality work to a digital printer because the plates we were using couldn’t meet the quality demands of his customer. We decided to invest in an Asahi AWP 2530 plate setter with AWP water washable plates and have never looked back. That printer is now able to produce the highest quality work in house and better serve his customer from both a price and performance perspective. That experience prompted us to make our AWP water washable plates the centrepiece of our new business acquisition strategy. The Asahi AWP water washable plate is the best plate you can buy on the market. We were not getting anywhere near this quality with our previous Flat Top Dot plates.”

awpTop

The AWP™ 2530 Auto plate processor is designed to meet the quality requirements of even the most demanding customers. Its combined processor and plate technology is engineered to deliver a sustainable quality output that produces vivid colours and high quality screening. Its water processor is an environmentally sound solution that drives print forward in balance with the environment. Its automated water washing system conserves water, uses no chemicals and generates a plate every 25 minutes. It uses 6 litres of water per plate, as opposed to the 15 litres of solvent per plate used in a typical solvent-based platemaking process.

AWP water washable plates use Pinning Technology for Clean Transfer, a unique plate technology is 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. 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.

“Repro houses are facing an increasingly competitive market,” says Paul Chant, UK Branch Manager of Asahi. “Forward-looking firms like Flexoshop, who are making the necessary investments for the future of their businesses, will be well positioned for success into the future. We are proud to be their partner.”

Read the complete article here

ASAHI/UTECO STUDY PROVES OEE IMPROVEMENTS FOR FLEXO ARE ACHIEVABLE

Tokyo / Brussels, June 29, 2016 – Asahi Photoproducts, a pioneer in flexographic photopolymer plate development, has reported that it has carried out a practical OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) study with the Italian press manufacturer Uteco in Verona.

“Our studies show that printing plates make a significant contribution to overall performance in flexographic printing,” says Andrea Belloli, Italian Branch manager for Asahi Photoproducts.  Uteco Group CEO Aldo Peretti adds, “Quality and performance are key customer requirements. These ongoing tests with Asahi are part of our ‘pit-stop project’ designed to find ways to speed up job changeover times. This latest study certainly proves that choosing the right plates can make a huge difference.”

DETAILS OF THE STUDY

During the study, two one-color print runs of approximately 38,000 meters each were undertaken in Uteco’s Printing Technology Center, the Converdrome, in Verona.

One run used standard solvent-washable plates; the other usedAsahi’s AWP water-washable plateswith Pinning Technology for Clean Transfer.

All other characteristics of the run were the same, including substrate and inks, and used the latest Uteco CI model press, the Onyx XS, running at a 300 meter per minute press speed.

THE RESULTS:  Conventional Plates vs. Asahi Plates

Conventional:
For the conventional plate, the run length was 37,368 linear meters. It took a total running time of 173 minutes. Total press down time was 47 minutes for plate cleaning. Waste produced was 1,025 meters.

OEE efficiency: 72%
Asahi:
For the Asahi plates, the run length was 38,000 linear meters. It took a total running time of 140 minutes. Total press down time was 8 minutes for plate cleaning. Waste produced was 450 meters.

OEE efficiency: 91%

Asahi Awarded For Excellence In Sustainability & Innovation

“We were very pleased with these results,” Belloli states. “It translates to a 26% OEE improvement with Asahi AWP plates as compared conventional solvent plates and produced 575 linear meters less waste material while at the same time delivering higher overall quality. In a busy flexographic shop, this would translate to the ability to process two more jobs with similar length through the press by using AWP plates, a significant increase in throughput.”

As a result of these tests, Asahi was awarded the prestigious European Flexographic Industry Association (EFIA) Gold Award for Sustainable Manufacturing and Product Innovation.

Asahi AWP Water Wash
A Water Washable Flexo Plate Designed For The Next Generation

Asahi AWP is a unique plate making technology and a beneficial alternative to other print processes. The Ink Pinning Technology provides a simple way to improve print quality.

High printing resolution, bright pictures and excellent press performance are a small selection of all the advantages you can get out of Ink Pinning Technology.  AWP will help you save time and money, reduce waste and preserve precious energy resources.

The system enables the necessary control to consistently reproduce the finest image quality. Time after time after time.

CONTACT CTGA TODAY
If you’re interested in learning more about CTGA’s exclusive line of Asahi Flexo Platematerials, and the AWP Water Wash system, please contact us today and speak with atechnical sales representative in your area to find out how we can help you and your business succeed.  We look forward to serving you!