Five years after KODAK FLEXCEL NX Plate technology made its debut at U. Günther GmbH with the acquisition of a KODAK FLEXCEL NX Wide 5080 System, a second line of the same type was commissioned in November 2018. U. Günther is now the first Kodak customer in Europe to use two of these large-format systems to make high-resolution, high-performance flexographic plates in 1270 x 2032 mm size.
Full-service provider for the A to Z of packaging
Established in 1968 by Ulrich Günther, this family owned Hamburg firm currently employs around 125 people. The portfolio covers everything from consulting through packaging design, artwork and mock-up production, reproduction and platemaking for any letterpress application to print production support on behalf of brand owners and retailers. Early in 2016, rapid growth prompted the decision to transfer the company’s entire platemaking operations to Greven, about 35 miles to the east in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania. Twenty-five percent of U. Günther’s turnover is generated with international clients, with business not confined to Germany’s immediate neighbors but as far afield as Greece, Israel, North Africa and Turkey.
At U. Günther, flexo dominates platemaking with 85% of all plates produced; the remainder are letterpress and offset varnish plates. Among the flexo plates, paperboard and corrugated postprint account for 50% of the total surface as opposed to 35% for flexible packaging and 15% for labels. The packaging prepress service provider uses FLEXCEL NX Plate technology for all of these flexo applications alongside various LAMS systems and a direct laser engraving system.
“FLEXCEL NX Plates had a very good reputation and with demand booming, that investment was a logical step. It was soon clear that the KODAK plates provide exceptional consistency and repeatability.”
FLEXCEL NX Plate technology – because it’s what the market wanted
When asked about his reasons for purchasing the first KODAK FLEXCEL NX 5080 System back in 2013, Peter Tarnowski, Managing Director of U. Günther GmbH, replies: “We select the plate material based on our customers’ needs and preferences. They’re free to choose whatever solution suits them best out of all of the production processes available in the market. FLEXCEL NX Plates had a very good reputation and with demand booming, that investment was a logical step. It was soon clear that the KODAK plates provide exceptional consistency and repeatability. We achieve high-quality results even if the press settings aren’t absolutely precise.”
Tarnowski is equally enthusiastic when it comes to the FLEXCEL NX System’s printing properties: “The ink laydown is very homogeneous, and we can control it in a targeted way using the special advanced KODAK DIGICAP NX Patterning. We conduct tests upfront to determine which DIGICAP Patterning best matches the combination of press, anilox rollers, inks and substrate. That way, we can deliver FLEXCEL NX Plates that convince the customer all round with good ink laydown, optimally controllable dot gain and excellent printing results.”
U. Günther uses FLEXCEL NXH Plates for flexible packaging and labels as well as FLEXCEL NXC Plates for corrugated printing in every conceivable thickness from 0.76 to 3.94 mm. As far as screen resolution is concerned, the prepress experts manage up to 200 lpi with FLEXCEL NXH Plates and up to 150 lpi with FLEXCEL NXC.
The volume of plates manufactured has increased steadily since the first FLEXCEL NX System was installed five years ago. Today, 25% of all photopolymer flexographic plates made by U. Günther are FLEXCEL NX, and the figure is still rising.
“We’ve succeeded in winning new customers who were looking for FLEXCEL NX Plates. Having an extra system gives us double the capacity and one-hundred-percent backup.”
From solo to duo with an anniversary model
Business with FLEXCEL NX Plates developed extremely positively, and so the decision to invest in a second KODAK FLEXCEL NX Wide 5080 System was an easy one. “On the one hand, we’ve succeeded in winning new customers who were looking for FLEXCEL NX Plates while on the other, a backup solution is vital in the interests of delivery reliability. Our original FLEXCEL NX Wide 5080 System had got so busy that if it had ever broken down, the short delivery deadlines that are nowadays the norm in the plate world would have caused serious problems for us,” Tarnowski explains. “Having an extra system gives us double the capacity and one-hundred-percent backup.” This newest acquisition is one of a special anniversary edition, which is limited to just 25 units worldwide. Kodak created this exclusive series to mark the tenth anniversary of the FLEXCEL NX Plate technology, giving it a striking design that is symbolic of the technology’s benefits for packaging users.
According to U. Günther’s Managing Director, the FLEXCEL NX System was incorporated “noiselessly” into the production process from the outset and soon became an integral part of it. “We took the right decision back then. In the meantime, our portfolio would be unthinkable without FLEXCEL NX Plates and thanks to the second system, we’ve now got the backup and the spare capacity we were previously lacking,” Tarnowski concludes. “We’ve not had a single complaint from customers. Printers who use our FLEXCEL NXH and FLEXCEL NXC Plates are more than happy with them. Make ready, start up and print – that’s all they have to do.”