In advance of its debut at Labelexpo Europe 2013, flexo expert Tony White took a look at the new ThermoFlexX 80 large format Flexo Imager. This system joins the ThermoFlexX range of CtP machines and includes some of the latest technical innovations needed to meet the demands of today’s marketplace.
“The ThermoFlexX team carried out some extensive research into exactly what technology flexo prepress customers required from a flexo CtP range of machines," comments Mr. White. "This guided their research and development team to come up with a whole raft of technological innovations which will stretch far into the future and make the machines competitive for many years and meet the ever increasing demands for higher and higher quality from the flexo process."
A detailed report on Mr. White's findings of the ThermoFlexX 80 is available on
Following are his main insights into market and the solution:
Resolution and speed
Mr. White says that two of the main topics which arise when dealing with CtP technology are resolution and speed. When considering these issues and the ThermoFlexX 80, he notes: “The ThermoFlexX 80 offers a range of five resolutions 2400, 2540, 4000, 4800 and 5080 dpi. Any two from this range can be installed on current machines and automatically switched between by using “hot” folders.”
He continues: “The ThermoFlexX 80 currently has output of about 4m²/hour. However some very important speed developments will be introduced in the near future by using a dual head exposure system. This will mean that the ThermoFlexX 80 will be capable of a very impressive 12m²/hr output whilst maintaining the very high-quality associated with this machine. Therefore by the middle of 2014 an increase in speed of more than 40% will ensure that the machine offers a very competitive speed quality ratio.”
Flexibility is key
In addition to speed and resolution, the ThermoFlexX 80 also includes features that provide additional flexibility and versatility for flexo prepress customers. Mr. White comments on these features, saying: “The clamping design of the ThermoFlexX 80 allows plates to be mounted easily on to the drum, while a uniquely designed vacuum slider offers the flexibility to use plates of any width. The ThermoFlexX solution also features ergonomic plate mounting and its hybrid drum offers flexibility of holding plates in place either by vacuum or by magnetics.”
“As for versatility, the ThermoFlexX 80 accepts plates up to 1270 x 2032 mm and plate thicknesses from 0.73 to 6.35 mm, making it a very useful and versatile unit for trade houses and the larger narrow web printer. Halftone screens up to 175 lpi can be achieved at the 2540 resolution and up to 250 lpi at the 5080 resolution making it the ideal for many current flexo applications.”
“Finally, the open access technology of the ThermoFlexX machines means that the units can be seamlessly integrated with ANY workflow system currently available and allow further technological developments to be introduced in the future.”
Easy loading and unloading
The ThermoFlexX 80 includes features that improve the loading and unloading process, making it easier and more efficient. Mr. White shares his perspective on these features by saying: “The physical movement of plates can be problematic especially the larger, thinner plates which can be easily damaged. To solve this problem, the FlexTray was developed to make moving and loading/unloading the plates into the machine much easier, a feature only on the ThermoFlexX 80. Moreover, it is ergonomically designed with an easy to use, height adjustable table that allows it to be aligned with any height of flexo processing peripheral. The added benefit of air valves make the movement of plates easier. It can smoothly and easily be moved around the workplace on castor wheels. The integral guides make the task of loading and unloading plates of any size up to 1270 x 2032mm so easy for the operator - it is a natural fit for the ThermoFlexX 80 machine.”
“Another aid to help the CtP operator is the auto-clamping functionality which allows the plates to be loaded/unloaded much more easily. The slow drum rotation function eases the task of ensuring that the plate is correctly mounted. The auto plate release function allows the plates to be unloaded in a much more controlled and manageable way.”
Innovations for the future
In summary, Mr. White concludes: “The ThermoFlexX 80 is a member of a technically advanced range of flexo CtP machines which are capable of being upgradeable to enable future technical developments to be integrated in the future.”
Visitors to the Xeikon booth 9H45 at Labelexpo Europe 2013 will have the opportunity to see the new ThermoFlexX 80 solution first hand.