Miraclon’s solvent-free, water-based flexo plate innovation improves sustainability, process efficiency and print quality at U. GUNTHER GMBH
Packaging prepress specialist U. Günther GmbH has a track record of exploring the potential of new technology. In the words of Thomas Pyssa, Operations Manager, “We’re always interested in testing the limits of what’s possible with innovative production solutions.”
The company’s latest venture into new technology is the KODAK FLEXCEL NX Ultra Solution, for which Günther has been a pilot user since February 2019. Developed, manufactured and supplied by Miraclon, FLEXCEL NX Ultra combines the technological benefits of Miraclon’s well-established FLEXCEL Solutions with solvent-free, water-based processing.
Günther installed its first FLEXCEL NX Solution in 2013. Now, with sustainable, eco-friendly packaging production topping the list of demands from consumers, retailers and brand-owners, Pyssa says it’s a logical move to test the capabilities of the new FLEXCEL NX Ultra Solution.
Stefan Schneider, Sales Coordinator with Günther, describes “a whole series of handling, quality and productivity benefits that FLEXCEL NX Ultra gives us.
The plates deliver excellent print quality with high edge-definition and absolutely clean highlights. They also stay open longer during production, so longer cleaning intervals are longer and press downtime less. In the 21st century, sustainability begins with the plate, and with FLEXCEL NX Ultra we have an effective answer.”
Shorter platemaking time meets Pohl’s need for flexibility and fast plate delivery
One of Günther’s customers benefitting from FLEXCEL NX Ultra Troisdorf-based packaging is Troisdorf-based printer Siegfried Pohl Verpackung Gmbh is. The foil and film packaging Pohl prints is characterized by short planning deadlines and lead times — two-day turnarounds are not uncommon — so flexibility and fast plate delivery are must-haves.
Pohl’s eight-color Fischer & Krecke press was the first test platform for FLEXCEL NX Ultra. Set-up was simplified by using an existing color profile — for FLEXCEL NXH plates — and similarly no adaptations were needed to the existing ink systems or anilox rollers. Press operator Jürgen Braun says the benefits start before the plates are even on the press: “I like that they don’t smell of solvent because of the water-based processing, so they’re more pleasant to work with, and the plates are more flexible, so they’re very easy to mount.”
Erol Yerlikaya, Printshop Manager, praises the plates’ properties on the press. “Ink stability is especially good, printing results are consistent, and edges are very sharp, even with wide formats.” He emphasizes the excellent ink transfer throughout the print run, quoting as an example a packaging job featuring an invisible Digimarc barcode integrated with the printed image. “When we printed an eight-color subject on OPP film, with a 150-lpi screen and using solvent-based inks, the run was absolutely stable over 75,000 meters.”
Another major advantage of the FLEXCEL NX Ultra plates is evident on bigger jobs, he continues.
“We need to clean solvent-based plates every 6,000 to 12,000 meters, but with the NX Ultra Plates we get through at least 24,000 meters before the first clean.
We also get the NX Ultra Plates clean in under two minutes because the ink that builds up comes off more easily. With solvent-based plates, we reckon on five or six minutes to clean each sleeve.”
Paving the way for higher flexo quality
For OMM Kunststofftechnik GmbH, Lindlar, FLEXCEL NX Ultra Plates deliver not only a major quality leap but also an environmentally-friendly production process that’s in line with the company’s sustainability-oriented business model, which includes packaging made from recycled or organic film.
OMM manufactures film, flexible packaging and labels for a wide range of different industries, and introduced FLEXCEL NX Ultra in June 2019 “without a hitch,” says Stephan Bühl, OMM’s CEO. “Today we regularly use them for jobs of various sizes and in runs that are typically between 10,000 and 100,000 meters. With FLEXCEL NX Ultra we can increase the screen ruling to 200 lpi for high-value jobs with up to eight or ten colors. That way, we achieve excellent printable densities and tonal reproduction as well as absolutely clean highlights.”
Daniel Brochhagen, Sales Representative for OMM, adds: “This quality leap also means we can approach customers who are traditionally printing gravure.
Since going over to FLEXCEL NX Ultra Plates we’ve increasingly succeeded in winning classic gravure jobs for flexo and can now target new customers.
We’re totally convinced by these plates — they keep the promises that were made to us in every respect.”
Sustainability is key message
At LPF Flexible Packaging, a Dutch manufacturer of flexible packaging and part of the international Clondalkin Group, Sales Manager Henk Edzes says the FLEXCEL NX Ultra Plates are central to the company’s sustainability message: “If customers ask us what headway we’ve made in terms of sustainability, we point out that sustainable packaging can be extended into the prepress area using the new, solvent-free plate.”
LPF’s first production runs using FLEXCEL NX Ultra Plates have been on flexible packaging films for sustainability-conscious customers in the confectionery business, in production volumes of between 15,000 and 50,000 meters. “The quality results have been excellent,” says Edzes, adding that “our printers are delighted with the plates. They don’t smell of solvent when they’re unpacked, they’re easier to mount and the edges don’t lift so much during production. On top of that, the plates don’t have to be washed as often and our printers can run the presses faster, so our productivity is higher.”