GERMANY • In order to further differentiate between the current and future status of flexo printing formes, whether it be plates or sleeve systems, Flexo & Gravure Global’s editors have asked several suppliers of printing formes and prepress service companies for their opinions. Below are the responses of Armin Senne, business manager flexo for ContiTech.
- Is there any further optimisation potential for flexo plate-making (plates, sleeves) processes?
When we speak of direct engraving most definitely. Starting with production speeds (m2/h), there is room to grow. With laser sources becoming less expensive, there is no real reason, why the speeds should not go up.
In terms of products (plates) a big step forward is the integration of compressible layers inside the plate. It reduces time and cost at the printer (no foam tape and compressible adapters needed).
- Does fixed colour palette printing contribute to a further increase the performance in flexo printing?
Yes and no. Too many job & product changes (especially changes in front or reverse print) on press kill the advantages of this principle. However, if you have dedicated machines that run only one product it may bear advantages in cost savings.
Printing sleeves, regardless of polymer or elastomer is a critical issue. The actual usage at the printer is only growing very slowly. This is directly related to the cost. If this segment is supposed to grow, the cost of production needs to come down, because right now, a typical rotogravure cylinder is cheaper than a flexo sleeve.
- The aim of Industry 4.0 or Print 4.0 respectively is the comprehensive networking and automation of the whole production chain. During drupa 2016, suppliers like Esko, Vianord and AV Flexologic introduced solutions for the further automation of the flexo plate-making processes. Do you consider this as indicative of a trend towards a sustainable change of the whole flexo industry?
It cannot only be only a tendency. We just need to take a look at roto gravure, where automation has become a standard in cylinder production. Without that the production of roto gravure cylinders would not be competitive any more, at least not in Europe. Having a look on the digital side it is the same, it is basically “automation all inclusive”, so the answer is yes and is a must, for both plates and sleeves.
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