Esko has expanded its portfolio and showcases a broad array of new and powerful flexo platemaking solutions at Labelexpo 2017:
- WebCenter QuickStart for Labels and Automation Engine QuickStart for Labels - two new turnkey workflow solutions to streamline the entire process from order to production and facilitate simpler label production.
- Automated flexo platemaking integrated into the Automation Engine prepress workflow; as Automation Engine customers look to expand capabilities, this option is available as an upgrade.
- The introduction of the Esko XPS Crystal 4835 UV exposure unit and the Esko CDI Crystal 4835 imaging unit for narrow to mid-web flexo applications including flexible packaging.
- Award winning technologies bring clear advantages and address the needs of the industry for faster turnarounds and superior, consistent quality.
Today, label converters are increasingly challenged. Shorter runs, shorter lead times, higher and more consistent print quality, and 100% regulatory compliance are a given. These parameters are driving ever-faster adoption of digital label technologies by label converters. The logical result is that more converters are recognizing the need to bring prepress in house. This is the only way to efficiently feed their digital presses, take time out of the production process, and gain greater control over the production of flexo plates.
Based on many years of industry experience, Esko offers solutions that remove the hurdles at each step of the workflow and automate as many repetitive tasks as possible, thus helping converters reduce waste, and improve the predictability and reliability of consistently superior quality plates. The daily challenge of workflow automation is the key. Shorter print run lengths and shortened delivery times require flexo plates to be ready faster within a reliable delivery window – this is the ultimate solution to ensure print production is not jeopardized by press downtime waiting for plates. To support this, Esko has taken the innovative approach of moving operational control further upstream to the prepress department by integrating the platemaking process with the prepress workflow.
Geert de Proost, Director Solutions Marketing states, “With our new flexo platemaking solutions, we ensure that flexo printing maintains its prominent position and is ready for the business challenges of label and flexo converters today.”
This is accomplished by the introduction of Automation Engine Quick Start for Labels, a turnkey workflow solution for label converters that includes a subset of the full Automation Engine capabilities, enabling implementation of a proven automated workflow in just 1 week. In addition, the full Automation Engine solution now includes a platemaking module that enables control of the platemaking process from prepress, further streamlining the label production process while reducing labor requirements and plate waste.
Turnkey workflow bundles address essential tasks
Automation Engine QuickStart for Labels is an out-of-the-box pre-configured workflow bundle that addresses the majority of the essential prepress tasks for labels, no matter what printing technology is used – digital (toner & inkjet), flexo, offset or gravure. It is the ideal solution for label converters that want to start prepress automation without the need for an extensive implementation process or in house workflow specialists. It includes tasks such as preflighting, adding and checking barcodes and content, trapping, step-and-repeat, marks and control strips as well as automated reports.
Another new turnkey solution, WebCenter QuickStart for Labels, controls the management of data within the system and fully digitizes and streamlines communication and collaboration from project briefing to the production floor. With full automation and visibility, it allows users to follow the audit trail of existing printed and digital assets, speeding the approval cycle with a built-in graphic viewer for both 2D and 3D assets. Work in progress, status and device queues are monitored and presented visually in an easy-to-understand browser-based dashboard.
Automation Engine Now Manages Flexo Platemaking
Automation Engine enables a fully-automated platemaking workflow, from RIPped files all the way to the exposed plate on the CDI Crystal XPS, without operator intervention. With Device Manager, anyone that needs to know what the status of a job is in the device queue can do this from the comfort of their desks, eliminating the need to check on progress at the device itself. Jobs can quickly and easily be placed in queues, and queues can be modified as needed. This automation not only saves valuable operator time, minimizing the need for them to spend time on interactive and time-consuming tasks, but it virtually eliminates errors in the platemaking process and speeds time to press. Most importantly, this automated platemaking workflow enables converting operations to better meet growing customer demand for higher quality and shorter cycle times, increasing customer service levels.
Platemaking - cutting the number of manual handling steps from 5 to 1
The new and award-winning Esko XPS Crystal technology is a digitally controlled UV LED exposure device that provides near simultaneous main and back exposure in a single operation. As part of a complete automated platemaking system linking to a CDI imaging unit, the new XPS Crystal 4835 delivers a superior flexo plate for the narrow web market, capable of imaging at the highest quality levels. The plates are placed onto the glass surface, where accurate back and main exposures by patented LED UV light technology allow precise control with no further operator intervention. The consistent light source delivers unmatched image consistency and perfectly formed dots.
Pascal Thomas, Director Flexo Business, says, “One of the primary factors influencing plate stability is fast UV exposure that holds the finest lines and text onto the plate. Full automation is achieved by linking the XPS to the CDI and thus reducing the process from five manual steps to just one.” Earlier this year, Esko’s innovative Crystal technology not only was recognized with the prestigious Flexographic Technical Association (FTA) Innovation Award for PrePress Graphics, but also received the respected Printing Industries of America (PIA) InterTech™ Technology Award. Furthermore it was also recognized with a Red Dot award for Product Design 2017 organized by Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen in Germany.
Shining performance from Crystal technology
Thomas concludes, “Our Crystal technology is being welcomed around the world. First customer installs reflect excellent performance with exceptional print results. With the introduction of our new XPS Crystal 4835 UV LED exposure unit and CDI Crystal 4835 imaging unit together with our latest turnkey workflows dedicated to label production, we continue to address the needs of the packaging and label community. With our 30 years of packaging and label industry experience and development, we continue to lead the way.