New Inline UV2 exposure unit enables flexo printers to offer choice of round or flat-top dots
EskoArtwork (www.esko.com) has once again lifted the quality bar of flexo plate making with the release of Inline UV2. The new inline UV exposure unit for Cyrel Digital Imagers now offers flexo printers the flexibility to select the type of print dot – either round-top or flat-top – according to the specific job requirement. With this new found flexibility, printers can offer their clients the best of both worlds in terms of dot quality.
A hot topic in the flexible packaging market today is whether to use round or flat-top dots during the flexo plate making process. Both have their respective advantages: round-top dots offer vignettes down to zero with the finest minimum dots, while flat-top dots offer best-in-class solids, due to their high solid ink density. Recently, there has been a resurgence in demand for flat-top dots to improve solid ink densities when printing on flexible or corrugated materials. With Inline UV2, flexo printers can produce flexo plates which create either round or flat-top dots in print – thus meet this demand. With a simple click of a switch they just select the dot shape according to the job requirements – from plate-to-plate or sleeve-to-sleeve. There is no need for different plates or different plate-making capabilities and equipment.
“HD Flexo revolutionized the flexible packaging industry by delivering near-offset quality across all flexo print applications,” says Juergen Andresen, EskoArtwork Vice President, Flexo Business. “With print runs getting shorter and the quality gap closing, printers and brand owners are increasingly looking towards flexo technology as an alternative to gravure. Gravure, however, has always been able to lay down more ink for saturated colors – until now that is,” says Andresen. “With Inline UV2, flexo printing can now produce digital flexo plates with either flat-top or round-top dots – producing both vignettes and solids equal to that of gravure. This enables flexo printers to offer their clients the choice in the way the work is produced. It is very much “horses for courses”,” explains Andresen. “But the flexibility enables end-users to opt for a flexo solution when they previously might have chosen gravure.”
Getting to grips with the technology
Digital flexo is the leading choice for much of today’s digital plate production and involves imaging a mask or LAMS (Laser Ablation Mask System) on a plate. It is then UV exposed creating a round-top dot structure that offers vignettes down to zero with finest minimum dots in print. Proven over the years, this industry standard reduces dot gain and produces smooth imagery with an expanded tonal range. With the Inline UV2, digital flexo can now generate a flat-top dot structure in a digital workflow ensuring the solids are best in class, due to its very high solid ink density. Before Inline UV2 this was only possible in an analog workflow where a film layer over the plate had to be used to eliminate the oxygen during UV curing.
Inline UV exposure replaces analogue UV bank exposure with digitally controlled UV laser diodes. This highly precise digital process delivers the highest levels of consistency. And because it can be fully integrated into the digital workflow, reproducibility is assured. Being a single step workflow also means simplicity, avoiding errors by manual handling and elimination of extra workflow steps. Inline UV exposure is availability for sleeve workflows as well which ensures a route to the future. The Inline UV2 unit can also be easily implemented into existing LAMS workflows.
Other advantages include a true digital dot with higher precision, no time lost or risks for errors and no need for extra equipment, film or consumables.