Uniflex, located in Belarus, is one of the largest flexographic printing companies in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Eastern Europe. The company offers a wide range of high quality flexible packaging such as vacuum bags, pouches, sachets, roll packaging, and self-adhesive labels in up to 10 colours and using a variety of materials. Uniflex is the recipient of a number of prestigious international industry awards that validate the quality and functionality of its flexible packaging and its heritage of innovation. The core of the company’s image is a top-quality product created by using modern technologies and highly professional staff under the supervision of an effective quality management system.
Uniflex viewed fixed colour palette printing (also called Extended Colour Gamut printing) as the next milestone in quality and efficiency for flexographic printing. The company worked to assemble a suite of industry-leading solutions to position Uniflex in the forefront of modern printing techniques to better serve its existing customer base and to expand its global footprint.
Uniflex chose to partner with Asahi Photoproducts and Esko in achieving the best possible quality in fixed colour palette printing. This included using Asahi’s AFPTM-TOP and AWPTM flexographic plates with Pinning Technology for Clean Transfer as well as Full HD Flexo from Esko using Esko platesetters. Full HD Flexo is a relatively new process for making digital flexographic plates that are higher quality and print more consistently than standard digital flexo plates. Asahi AFPTM-TOP and AWPTM flexographic plates are the ideal plate choice for Full HD Flexo production.
“Our customers have strict requirements relative to the quality, cycle time and cost-effectiveness of their printing,” said Eugen Lungin, Production Manager of Uniflex. “We are always striving to take advantage of the latest innovations in flexography in order to meet and exceed these customer expectations. High quality, eye-catching, yet functional packaging delivered in a timely fashion is what our brand owners are looking for, and we have assembled a product suite that allows us to achieve that and more.”
Uniflex began its fixed colour palette printing journey about eight years ago, as an early adopter of this next-generation printing model. Over time, the company has continued to improve its production platform by incorporating the latest technologies, and is a leader in the CIS and European markets in terms of its adoption of advanced technologies and processes, including fixed colour palette printing.
One advantage to Uniflex in the adoption of Full HD Flexo was the fact that it could be implemented without scrapping existing equipment and working methods. It facilitates perfect ink laydown with the right solid density, vibrant brand colours, superior platemaking consistency and is the only fully digitally controlled platemaking workflow available in the industry.
Lungin points out that the prepress aspects delivered by Esko Full HD Flexo are critical to implementing excellence in fixed colour palette printing, but it is also important to select the right flexo plates. “We chose to work with Asahi for our flexo plates,” Lungin reported. “We particularly appreciate the precise register, full ink transfer and improved Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) we achieve using Asahi’s AFPTM-TOP and AWPTM plates using Pinning Technology for Clean Transfer, as well as the ability for us to move to a higher line screen, up to 200 lines per inch.”
Pinning Technology for Clean Transfer is a unique plate technology specifically engineered to transfer all remaining ink to the print substrate due to the photopolymer plates having a lower surface energy than other plates on the market. It is an ideal technology for fixed colour palette printing. Not only does this deliver stunning graphical quality, but it also improves overall production efficiencies due to reduced makeready waste and fewer press wash-ups. In fact, independent testing reflects that Asahi plates with Pinning Technology for Clean Transfer deliver at least a 26% improvement in OEE.
“We began our fixed colour palette printing journey with Asahi’s AFPTM-TOP plates after a thorough market review, and found they had the best and most consistent ink transfer from start to finish during production runs. We subsequently added AWPTM water-washable plates to take advantage of their precise plate-to-plate register, fast platemaking time and environmental benefits to round out our plate portfolio, for the best of all worlds in fixed colour palette flexographic printing.”
With fixed colour palette printing as a primary production process, Uniflex is able to virtually eliminate the need for spot colour inks and the associated costs of purchasing, managing and storing a large number of special colour inks. In fact, Uniflex is able to achieve more than 90% of Pantone colours using CMYK-OGV inks. In addition, fixed colour palette printing, since it uses this fixed set of inks, eliminates the need for press wash-up between jobs and makes it easier to combine multiple jobs into a single run. Presses come up to colour faster as well, reducing make-ready time and waste. In addition, the minimal ink concentration and pressure required during the printing process speeds up the plate cleaning process and reduces press downtime. When required, file conversion to extended gamut colour is accomplished using Esko Equinox.
“With the combination of our Esko and Asahi solutions,”Lungin concluded, “we not only have the cost and productivity benefits of fixed colour palette printing, but we also are able to achieve higher line screens and extremely brilliant colours without any compromise in colour stability. Homogenous ink transfer makes it nearly impossible to distinguish our fixed colour palette flexo printing from the highest quality gravure. We are now technically able to provide high-end printing quality that meets the expectations of even the most demanding customers!”
The post Uniflex – A Fixed Color Palette Printing Case Study appeared first on FlexoGlobal Blog.
Source: FlexoGlobal Blog