Esko and Asahi Photoproducts unveil CrystalCleanConnect

A sustainable prepress solution for flexo packaging at virtual.drupa

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Esko and flexo photopolymer plate developer Asahi Photoproducts unveiled the CrystalCleanConnect plate-making solution on 20 April during virtual.drupa. This automation innovation brings together key hardware and software technologies from both organizations to deliver integrated prepress solutions for the packaging sector.

In this new integrated imaging and processing solution, Asahi’s AWP CleanPrint processor works with the Esko CDI Crystal 4835 and CDI Crystal 4260 XPS imagers. CrystalCleanConnect offers several breakthrough advantages from design to print as it reduces the flexo platemaking process from 12 steps to 1. It delivers a 90% reduction in dedicated operator time. And it is claimed to reduce ink usage by 20% and while achieving an average 25% increase in press overall equipment efficiency (OEE).

Esko and Asahi collaborated for high-quality printing

Esko and Asahi announced their collaboration last year, intending to deliver a cleaner, more environmentally balanced operation that simplifies the print form-making process, improves safety, and creates higher print quality consistency.

Pascal Thomas from Esko said that CrystalCleanConnect facilitates the availability of a print from design to print by offering a fully automated process, “Resulting in the significantly reduced total cost of ownership and thus improving efficiency and profitability.”

Dieter Niederstadt of Asahi Photoproducts said that AWP CleanPrint boosts print quality and efficiency thanks to less plate cleaning and faster makeready due to better plate registration.

The first CrystalCleanConnect has been installed at Nabe Process Corporation in Japan, with the installation completed just a few weeks ago. Shinya Nabesaka, president of Nabe Process Corporation, says, “We are finding great value in joining this CrystalCleanConnect project with Esko and Asahi Kasei, verifying that this cutting-edge concept of sustainable full automation system will be the next standard in flexo plate making process.”

Editor’s view

Our editor, Naresh Khanna, comments, “It seems that flexography which may have been lagging in Japan, behind other long favored processes for both label and flexible packaging, may get another boost from the partnership between Esko and Asahi. Speed of processing flexo plates and increased efficiency in makeready as well quality may move this market. Full automation and sustainability in plate processing, less ink, and less wastage in makeready are also likely to be good selling propositions in Japan.

“Asahi may need to raise its profile in India, a market where Esko is very successful but which already favors flexo for label printing. However, in flexible packaging, where the Indian market is gravure dominated, flexo needs to show its robustness in quality and handling of plates and ease of processing to make further inroads. Suppose ink savings of 20% can be proved in actual production in Indian conditions without sacrificing press efficiency (25% OEE is claimed). In that case, this solution will be looked at by the leading wide-web CI flexo press owning establishments.”

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