Last updateThu, 29 Feb 2024 4am

Groundbreaking automated flexo plate making solution delivers significant benefits to customers in its first year

Esko and Asahi Photoproducts have announced that CrystalCleanConnect, the fully automated flexo plate making system developed in collaboration between the two companies, is now available everywhere after a successful first year since its launch at drupa.

"We have successfully installed the system at many key customers since we first introduced this innovative technology at virtual.drupa 2021," said Pascal Thomas, Director of Flexo Business at Esko. "We are pleased to see that those customers are already experiencing great success and are reaping the benefits and added value of the system. Now that the various lockdown constraints and logistical issues have subsided, we are excited to make the solution available to our entire global customer base."
Esko, the global developer of integrated software and hardware solutions for the packaging and label markets, has collaborated with Asahi Photoproducts, a pioneer in the development of flexographic photopolymer plates, on the innovative flexo plate making solution.
"CrystalCleanConnect automates the entire platemaking process from imaging to imaging to platemaking, reducing the number of steps in flexo platemaking from twelve to just one," said Pascal Thomas. "This equates to a reduction from 36 minutes per plate for plate making and plate cutting to just 2.5 minutes of operating time for all processing steps."
"With CrystalCleanConnect, we have brought together essential hardware and software technologies from both companies to deliver many breakthrough benefits from design to print," said Pascal Thomas. "The solution provides a cleaner, faster operation that simplifies the flexo platemaking process, improves safety and enhances print quality consistency," Pascal Thomas added.
Major Japanese printer Nabe Process Co Ltd was the first company in the world to integrate CrystalCleanConnect into its plate-making process shortly after the technology was unveiled at drupa. Mr Nabesaka, Chief Executive Officer of Nabe Process Co. said, "CrystalCleanConnect has increased our overall quality and productivity as we get plates to press much faster, with less operator time and less chance of errors."
According to Nabesaka, the solution was used to test Asahi's AWP™ CleanPrint water-washable flexo plates against traditional solvent-based plates and measure the quality and productivity differences between the two. "Based on these results, we are switching all of our flexo plates to Asahi AWP™ water washable CleanPrint plates, and we are confident that our customers will be more delighted than ever with the quality we deliver," he said.
It was also recently announced that leading label manufacturer Shanghai Hengze Printing Company is currently commissioning a brand new CrystalCleanConnect flexo plate manufacturing facility. The implementation of the solution, along with the switch to water-washable Asahi AWP™-DEW plates optimised for use with CrystalCleanConnect, will further improve the company's productivity, efficiency and sustainability, positioning it even more advantageously in the highly competitive Chinese market.
"When we learned about the added value CrystalCleanConnect could bring to our business, we couldn't wait to get started," said Li Xiaocheng, founder of Hengze. "We are also very excited to be among the early adopters of this unique, highly productive and innovative solution."
Pascal Thomas explained that with CrystalCleanConnect, the significant operational benefits are complemented by a reduction in ink consumption and a particularly environmentally friendly carbon footprint. "Eliminating so many process steps immediately reduces the operator time required by 90%, which not only eliminates the risk of human error but also brings immediate efficiency gains," he said. "Quality is ensured by the completely smooth interaction of Asahi and Esko's technologies. The combination of improved efficiency and quality results in an average 25% increase in overall press line effectiveness."
Dieter Niederstadt, Technical Marketing Manager at Asahi Photoproducts, said: "Flexo printing needs to simplify processes while improving quality, consistency and profitability. This creates new business opportunities and flexo printing can positively evolve into a sustainable printing technology."
"This breakthrough innovation is different from other solutions on the market in many ways," said Dieter Niederstadt. "It is not just a compilation of available platemaking processes that are available in-house, but rather a holistic approach to networking technologies upstream and downstream of the prepress value chain. All this using an intelligent automation hub as the foundation and heart of the solution. CrystalCleanConnect pushes the boundaries of plate automation by delivering a ready-to-assemble plate and is the first automated production solution that does not use VOC-based washout solvents in the plate-making process."




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