Quality… Consistency… Productivity—Brands demand it. Printers deliver it. Prepress, particularly plate making and processing, focuses on enhancing efficiencies inherent to making it happen.
The key is to keep things simple, hassle free and environmentally sound. Evolution, aka “continuous innovation,” has a role.
Exhibit A: Miraclon, the home of KODAK FLEXCEL Solutions, a winner of FTA’s 2020 Technical Innovation Award in the Prepress – Graphics category. First came the KODAK FLEXCEL NX System: now the FLEXCEL NX product family expands with new KODAK FLEXCEL NX Ultra Solution featuring KODAK Ultra Clean Technology.
The product line’s planned incremental innovation history transcends more than a decade:
- 2008: Introduction of FLEXCEL NX System for narrow and mid web
- 2009: FTA Technical Innovation Award presented to FLEXCEL NX System
- 2011: Expansion to wide web offering
- 2014: R&D initiates development of aqueous-based solution
- 2016: Alpha testing
- 2017: Beta testing
- 2018: Launch of FLEXCEL NX Ultra Solution at Labelexpo Americas
- 2019: FLEXCEL NX Ultra Solution and Ultra Clean Technology honored with PIA InterTech Technology Award
- 2020: FTA Technical Innovation Award—a repeat winner!
Clean, Consistent, Sustainable
The attraction is incentive-laden opportunity. Marketing materials offer printers a multifaceted invitation that speaks to ever-present desires. “Reduce downtime! Increase productivity! Shift to solvent-free, clean, consistent and sustainable flexo plate making.” The same call-to-action offers a promise: “This latest addition to the FLEXCEL NX family delivers transformational benefits in a high-speed, solvent-free, VOC-free plate making environment.”
Miraclon professes that KODAK FLEXCEL NX Ultra Solution featuring Ultra Clean Technology addresses long-standing fundamental challenges associated with aqueous flexo plate processing and can deliver high-performing, press-ready plates in less than one hour. The company notes:
- Users report it matches or exceeds the plate making productivity of any thermal plate system
- Over an eight-hour shift, 32 plates can be manufactured
- Agents incorporated into the Ultra Cleaning solution are 100 percent natural and organic plant-based, afford easy dissolution and suspension in water, and thereby eliminate photopolymer debris
- Washout times are cited at half that of solvent photopolymer and competitive aqueous processing systems
- Consistent with all FLEXCEL NX portfolio offerings, allows brands and printers to leverage more cost-effective and sustainable print processes through production of highly differentiated flexo plates that reduce waste generated during printing
FLEXCEL NX Ultra is targeted for customers that produce large volumes of plates on a regular and ongoing basis. Known fact: the first commercially available machine crossed the 10,000-cycle threshold within a year, bringing measurable productivity gains and remarkable standardization to the pressroom.
Ideal for label, paperboard and flexible packaging applications, performance-rated plates facilitate incredibly fast job changeovers, consistent color—even on long runs—and outstanding print quality. Excellent plate drape also means easy mounting.
Miraclon says the efficient all-in-one system, anchored by the FLEXCEL NX Ultra 35 Processor, includes exposure unit, aqueous washout system, drying and finishing. Superb for high-volume production, the equipment is easy to operate and easy to maintain. An icon-based touchscreen user interface, automated cleaning cycles, and simple maintenance procedures maximize productivity in a clean and operator-friendly environment.
Processor interior components have a special coating, resulting in dramatically reduced adhesion. That leads to simpler, easier cleaning when required. Several hundred plates can be processed between system cleans.
Miraclon assures printers that they will meet peak volume plate making demands because the processor is designed for high uptime, high productivity and easy maintenance with minimal cleaning. The claim: It creates a powerhouse system with an optimized end-to-end digital flexo plate making solution. Everything is contained in an “under one hood” system that the user can count on to deliver. Clear benefits without compromise list out as follows:
- High resolution, fast imaging
- Lamination that eliminates oxygen
- 1:1 reproduction
- High-speed, solvent- and VOC-free plate making—up to 35-in. x 48-in.
- Smoother ink laydown
- Superior edge definition
- Stable, flat top dots
Applied to process and line jobs, coated and uncoated stocks, and designed to be used for commercial jobs with low-volume anilox rolls, customers report:
- Colors come up immediately
- Great print results are achieved with a mix of heavy solids and fine detail
- Outstanding color densities
- No swell issues with UV ink
- Excellent resistance to plate lift under demanding conditions
In simple terms, the KODAK FLEXCEL NX Ultra Solution Featuring Ultra Clean Technology takes some of the “art” out of the flexo process and replaces it with “imaging science” proven and grounded in KODAK FLEXCEL NX, utilizing five basic steps:
- Image the thermal imaging layer (TIL)
- Laminate the TIL to the flexographic plate
- Expose the front and back of the plate
- Simply delaminate the plate from the TIL
- Aqueous plate processing