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 Dr. Dieter Niederstadt, technical marketing manager for Asahi Photoproducts.
- Is there any further optimisation potential for flexo plate-making (plates, sleeves) processe
Flexo printing has come a long way, from “potato printing stamps” to a high quality graphical image carrier. Historically, the primary focus for continuous improvement has been the graphical quality aspect. With recent advances in flexo for greater printing press efficiencies, however, other development priorities have emerged. Pinning Technology for Clean Transfer is such a development, focusing mainly on the improvement of printing press uptime (OEE). We believe there is still a lot of potential considering the fact that flexo presses print on average only 50% of the time, with the rest being idle time cleaning or make-ready operations. With this unproductive press time in mind, there is still a huge potential for printing press and flexo plate manufacturers to innovate.
- Does fixed colour palette printing contribute to a further increase the performance in flexo printing?
I believe that Fixed Colour Palette printing is one of the biggest game changers in the history of flexographic printing. By using the FCP technique, flexo converters can improve press availability by over 50%. These days, there is a lot of discussion in the media about digital printing for the label industry. Digital printing already uses up to a 7C Fixed Colour Palette printing process and the quality level is accepted. Can you imagine the competitive edge of flexo if we can manage to implement FCP as a standard printing process?
- 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?
This is definitely true and we have only really seen the beginning of it. The goal of the print buyer is to reduce waste in the supply chain. One way of doing that is to physically bring the different processes together, such as plate making, printing and filling into one location. Another way is to better connect them with each other and produce all components on demand and on time. There are exciting times ahead of us, and it is exciting to be part of it.
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