As part of the recently released Esko Software 21.11, the latest version of Automation Engine features the innovative new Flexo Engine, with automated merging and a host of new tools developed to increase plate room productivity.
‘Whether at a trade shop or in-house, customers are facing increasing demands on the production of flexo plates,’ said Robert Bruce, Flexo Software Product Manager with Esko. ‘The need to deliver high quality plates in the fastest time possible can be a major headache. That’s why we’ve developed Flexo Engine, the next generation tool to help plate producers increase their efficiency, productivity and performance.’
‘Automated merging eliminates the need to use many different tools, while further automation saves time and improves traceability in the flexo platemaking process,’ he said. ‘For example, an intuitive dashboard helps to simplify operations, while connectivity with third party equipment ensures a completely connected workflow.’
Flexo Engine also features the innovative new feature Plate ID, the automated solution to the challenge of accurately and permanently marking plates.
‘Today’s flexographic plates are marked with a variety of information needed for the print process, including everything from job ID and colour references, whether surface or reverse print is required, sleeve size and date of manufacture. Until now, this important information has typically either been included on a label, etched onto the plate either with a pen plotter or even handwritten.’
‘Plate uses the CDI Crystal XPS plate imaging and exposing technology to image all of this vital information on the flexo plate below the printing surface,’ said Bruce. ‘This makes the marks perfectly readable, but avoids the problem of wiping away the traditional pen markings under the influence of inks, solvents and other chemicals used in the printing process. This is the solution flexo platemakers have been calling for.’
With PlateID, plate producers enjoy benefits such as:
– Clear, permanent marking, removing the risk of losing marks during cleaning or printing.
– Removal of human error in the marking process, when information is first being added.
– Waste minimisation, as plate identification can be added inside the design area or a gap in a step and repeat.
– Minimised time taken searching for correct plates, delivering operator efficiency gains.
– Improved plate storage and handling logistics.
The benefits of PlateID are available to anyone using the Esko Crystal XPS exposure system. In addition, users of Flexo Engine will also benefit from another new added feature, Auto Plate Cut, which delivers even more time savings and further reduces waste.
‘Staggered cut plates for flexible packaging and label printing is a standard process that helps to eliminate press bounce and increase print production speeds,’ said Bruce. ‘The manual process of setting up a staggered cut job can involve a number of different tools and take an operator anywhere between five and twenty minutes, per plate. But with Auto Plate Cut, the process is automated to take any stepped PDF file.
‘Based on 1000 jobs per year, automating this task can save around 250 hours each year,’ said Bruce. ‘The elimination of errors caused by plate bounce allows the printer to print faster with less barring and also helps to reduce plate waste.’
Flexo Engine is part of the latest version of Automation Engine, released as part of the Esko Software platform in November 2021.