Esko and Asahi Photoproducts Unveil Automated Flexographic Plate Making Solution at virtual.drupa

GHENT and BRUSSELS, BelgiumEsko and Asahi Photoproducts have showcased their fully automated flexographic plate making line CrystalCleanConnect at this year’s virtual.drupa event.

“With CrystalCleanConnect we have brought together key hardware and software technologies from both organizations to deliver a number of breakthrough advantages from design to print,” said Pascal Thomas, director of flexographic business with Esko. “CrystalCleanConnect delivers a cleaner, more environmentally balanced operation that simplifies the flexo plate making process, improves safety and boosts print quality consistency.”

Esko, a global developer of integrated software and hardware solutions for the packaging and labels markets, has collaborated with Asahi Photoproducts, a pioneer in flexographic photopolymer plate development, on the innovative flexographic plate making solution. CrystalCleanConnect fully automates the entire plate making process, from imaging and exposure through to plate production, reducing the number of steps in the flexographic plate making process from 12 to just one. This equates to a reduction from 36 minutes in plate making and plate cutting to just 2.5 minutes of operator time to complete all processing steps.

“With CrystalCleanConnect, the operational benefits to businesses are as pronounced as the environmental benefits,” said Pascal. “With the removal of so many process steps, there’s an immediate 90 percent reduction in required operator time, which not only eliminates the potential for human error but also delivers immediate efficiency gains. Quality is assured through Asahi and Esko technologies working in complete harmony, and the combination of improved efficiency and quality delivers an average increase of 25 percent in press OEE.”

Dieter Niederstadt, technical marketing manager for Asahi Photoproducts, said: “Flexo needs to simplify processes while improving quality, consistency and profitability. In doing so, flexo can create new business opportunities and positively transform into a printing technology in balance with the environment.

“This breakthrough innovation is different in many ways to other solutions on the market,” Niederstadt said. “It is not just an assembly of available plate making processes delivered inline, but rather a holistic approach to connecting technologies, up and downstream of the prepress value chain, using an intelligent automation hub as the backbone and heart of the solution. CCC is truly pushing boundaries to the current scope of plate automation delivering a mount-ready plate as well as being the first automated production solution without the need for VOC-based washout solvents in the plate making process.”

Pascal Thomas added: “At Esko, we have long been dedicated to improving the plate making experience, in terms of quality, productivity and connectivity. Together with Asahi Photoproducts, we are taking the flexo plate making process to a brand-new level, enabling our customers to be even more competitive while also ensuring they can meet today’s demands for flexible and sustainable supply.

“With CrystalCleanConnect, our ultimate objective is to improve our customers’ overall business performance and profitability.”