Amongst a host of hardware and software launches, Esko will show a new HD Flexo imaging technology that allows the combination of flat- and round-top dot structures in a single plate.
The technology, which Esko said was a “must see” for flexible packaging printers, is said to create a superior flexo plate suitable for the highlight and the shadow or solid areas of a print job.
Pascal Thomas, Digital Flexo product manager at the Belgium-based company, said: “We will introduce a new generation of HD Flexo imaging at Drupa that will combine very smooth highlights and gravure-like solids in one single plate.
“Today we can say we can do either/or, but with this technology we will do both in one single plate. It is not available today, but we will bring the flexo printing industry to another new era.”
Jürgen Andresen, vice president, Flexo Business at Esko, added: “We want to go beyond the binary discussion of flat-top dots or round-top dots, and create the best possible combination of print dot structures on a single plate.
“At Drupa, we will show imaged plates and printed samples to illustrate this technological breakthrough.”
Esko will also launch Pixel+ in Dusseldorf in two months’ time, which Thomas described as “an optical, electronic and screening enhancement for HD Flexo imaging to support flat-top dot creation”.
It is aimed at partnering digital flexo plate vendors for use with their flat-top dot technologies, such as DuPont Digicorr or Digiflow, MacDermid Lux, or the Flint NExT.
Thomas stressed that while Esko developed the technology, it would not be providing support to the end users. “The support will be done through the plate vendors,” he said. “They will each have their own screen sets, their own settings that they will control and we will build the tools for them to make it work.”
The company will also be showing its Inline UV 2 diode technology, launched at last year’s Label Expo, which allows the application of variable power density when imaging plates, to create either round- or flat-top dots.
“We give our customers the choice to pick whichever dot structure fits best for his printing process and not limit them to one single way of doing their plates,” said Thomas, who added that the company had 85 installs of the technology already.
The company currently has more than 2,000 of its CDI platesetters installed worldwide and 400 HD Flexo installs and claims 70% of the global digital flexo market.
“Esko’s vision is aligned on two axis: to improve the quality of flexo printing up to the level of gravure and offset, and to make flexo platemaking as convenient and reliable as it is in offset,” said Thomas.
To this end the company has added greater automation to its CDI range, with the introduction of the CDI Spark 4835 Auto – an automated version of the existing model.
“The Auto stands for automated plate loading, imaging, curing and unloading,” said Thomas. “It also has a new digital UV back exposure, which aligns our philosophy of having a completely digitised curing and imaging environment.”
Esko said that by using digital UV diodes, similar to its existing Inline UV technology, for back as well as main exposure it could deliver consistent and predictable “floor height” on plate, resulting in a notable increase in print quality and stability.
“We know that the floor height has a very big influence on the behaviour of the dot in the printing process, so existing UV-frames suffer from heavy fluctuations across any particular day, week or month,” said Thomas. “So by digitising the back exposure, we make it predictable on a long-term basis.”
Esko will be exhibiting on a 900sqm stand (A23) – the largest in its history – in Hall 8b at Drupa.
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