Asahi Photoproducts’ automated CrystalCleanConnect system was co-developed with Esko and Kongsberg. With CrystalCleanConnect, press-ready plates are prepared in a single step, reducing operator interventions normally required in a 12-step traditional plate production.
Asahi Photoproducts reported that North America-based packaging company Winpak Ltd. is the first in the United States to install the company’s CrystalClearConnect automated flexo platemaking system at their Winpak Films business unit in Senoia, Georgia.
Winpak Ltd. is a $1.2 billion packaging company that manufactures and distributes high-quality packaging materials and related innovative packaging machines. The company uses solvent-based inks in the production of wide web flexible packaging. Its products are used primarily for the protection of perishable foods and beverages, including thermoformed cups and lids, flexible films, meat trays and covers, and other packaging comprised of flexible and rigid substrates. The company manufactures several solutions for healthcare as well. Winpak operates twelve production facilities in Canada, the United States and Mexico, offering customers global coverage and expertise.
‘We were looking for a more efficient and sustainable means of producing flexo plates, including the ability to bring platemaking in-house to reduce costs and lead times,’ said Vishal Khushalani, General Manager at Winpak Films Inc., ‘Wikoff, our Asahi distributor partner, recommended that we consider CrystalCleanConnect. As we looked into the details of the system, we found a number of truly unique benefits CrystalCleanConnect offers, and the decision was then quite easy.’
Khushalani reported that the outsourced plates were solvent-wash, so the first step was to bring platemaking in-house with an Esko plate imager, Asahi AWP™water-washable plates, an Asahi plate processor, and a Kongsberg cutting table, all operating as independent units. ‘When we were outsourcing plates, in addition to the environmental impact of solvent wash plates, our customer lead times ran anywhere from one to two weeks,’ he said. ‘By bringing this initial platemaking configuration in-house, we were able to produce a plate every 45 minutes to an hour, so going from a week to an hour sounded amazing, and the solution lived up to its promise.’
By converting standalone platemaking to an integrated process with CrystalCleanConnect, Winpak took its platemaking process to an entirely new level.
CrystalCleanConnect is known for its sustainable and environmentally friendly features. It is a water-wash platemaking process which is designed to minimise waste, reduce the consumption of resources like water and energy, and promote eco-friendly printing practices. Choosing CrystalCleanConnect aligns with the growing global emphasis on sustainability and responsible production, a specific focus for Winpak.
CrystalCleanConnect offers user-friendly features that make it easy to operate and integrate into existing printing processes. Its intuitive interface and streamlined workflows enhance productivity and reduce training time for operators. This can help address skill shortages and enable printers to maintain consistent quality even with less experienced operators. Because it reduces plate production from 12 steps to one, completely automated from imaging the plate material to cutting press-ready plates, there is very little opportunity for error.
Bringing platemaking in-house allowed Winpak to reduce costs and lead times in platemaking, as well as to better control both quality and scheduling. Khushalani reported that CrystalCleanConnect helped to automate and simplify what could have been a steep learning curve with bringing in plate production as a new manufacturing process for the company: ‘We were also pleased, that now we could reduce platemaking time from one hour to 15 minutes. The first plate out takes about an hour, but then it produces a press-ready plate every 15 minutes after that. It was a stunning improvement in productivity and throughput. We thought going from a week to 45 minutes was great. And now we are at 15 minutes per plate after initial set-up. From a shift perspective, where we previously made 10 or 12 plates per shift, we now produce 24 to 30 plates per shift, and it requires less labor do to so, just one operator for the entire process.’
‘We were also very pleased with the Asahi AWP™ CleanPrint plates,’ Khushalani stated. ‘They are known for their ability to deliver high quality print results; excellent dot reproduction, sharpness and fine detail; and a significant reduction in press stops for plate cleaning due to Asahi’s CleanPrint technology, which features improved ink transfer and ensures consistent quality throughout even long runs. The durability of the plates also ensures more press efficiency since there is no need for frequent plate changes.’
Asahi AWP™ CleanPrint plates are water washable, and certified Carbon Neutral. Khushalani concluded, ‘Asahi AWP™ plates are designed with sustainability in mind. They reduce waste and environmental impact by minimising ink, solvent usage, cycle time, and waste. And since they are water washable, they eliminate the need for harsh chemicals in the platemaking process. All of this is extremely important to Winpak and to our brand owner customers.’
KALIDECK – ESKO DISTRIBUTOR
+27 11 688 6000