Flexcel NX improves flexo opacity with less ink

Reducing white ink consumption by 23% in flexography

L to R – Christian Mella, Luis Sirhan and Raul Azocar at Siflex Packaging in Santiago, Chile Photo Miraclon
L to R – Christian Mella, Luis Sirhan and Raul Azocar at Siflex Packaging in Santiago, Chile Photo Miraclon

Since setting up business in 2014, Siflex Packaging has focused on improving processes related to the production of flexible packaging in Chile. To this end, it has 52 experienced employees working in a 5,000 square meter facility in the northern part of the capital, Santiago, and has invested heavily in the best machinery, processes and systems. In the critical prepress area, a key piece of equipment is the Kodak Flexcel NX System installed in 2018 by Miraclon. This together with the Flexcel NX flexographic plates has helped the company to reduce white ink consumption by up to 23%.

Luis Sirhan, founder and general manager of Siflex Packaging, explains that choosing Flexcel NX system was the only option he considered, as he had already experienced its advantages when working for another company. “As I was already well aware of the strengths of Flexcel NX technology, including the ink savings and increased productivity it enables, investing in it was a no-brainer.”

Ink savings

To confirm and further explore the benefits of this prepress solution, Siflex decided to measure the white ink savings that could be achieved. The company worked closely with Carlos Alejandro Moraga, Printing Applications Specialist Flexo at Miraclon, who audited the entire production process and advised Siflex Packaging on how to implement best practices, while also helping it to optimize its production workflow to take full advantage of the Flexcel NX technology.

Luis Sirhan explains, “We really appreciate how much Miraclon supported us on this project when they could have perfectly well walked away as the sale was already sealed and signed, but they accepted the challenge and it shows that they care about their customers. We have a very close relationship with them and will continue to work together on new projects and challenges.”

The company founder adds, “It has been a joint effort between Miraclon and our entire pre-press and print team, who have been fully involved in recording data on all the jobs for months. In addition, we can also put this achievement down to the ongoing maintenance we always carry out on the machines and equipment, which also plays a role in achieving these savings and lowering ink consumption, which in turn allows us to cut our environmental emissions.”

Raúl Azocar, head of Production at Siflex, adds, “This study also demonstrated that we could achieve good white opacity with less ink – by using a Flexcel NX plate we have been able to save 23% white ink.” Cristian Mella, head of Development at the company points out, “The correct use of Digicap NX patterning has also been fundamental in this saving, which we check when characterizing the press in relation to the plate. Aiming to achieve greater opacity while applying a smaller amount of ink, we adapt the Digicap NX patterning to achieve higher ink densities on the press”.

Plate advantages

Azocar, is also very satisfied with the performance of the plates because they maximize productivity on press, with fewer unscheduled press stops and hence, less waste. “The Flexcel NX plates guarantee us excellent ink transfer, smooth solids and robust on-press performance. In addition, they allow us to accurately reproduce the sharpest image detail, offer high strength for high press speeds and greater durability for consistency throughout the press run and in replenishments.”

The Flexcel NX plate readying for the run at Siflex Packging in Chile Photo Miraclon
The Flexcel NX plate readying for the press run at Siflex Packging in Chile Photo Miraclon

He says, “My experience with the Flexcel NX plates has been very good, and what is really extraordinary is the fact that there are no unscheduled stops on the press, and with a single adjustment this plate no longer needs to be adjusted or stopped for jobs sharing the same characteristics. We have been able to increase speeds without having to apply more pressure, and the plates withstand these runs and stay in the same condition, so we have been able to be more efficient. At Siflex we have no press stops caused by the plates and this helps us to work without interruptions, to be able to repeat prints and to save on-press time and energy. We are convinced that we have the best print quality, and we don’t have to replace plates due to dot loss, so all this underscores the quality and value of Flexcel NX plates.”

Quality & sustainability add up to economic benefits

Sirhan reveals, that the company, has been producing a higher print resolution with the Flexcel NX plates than earlier. “Added to this benefit is the peace of mind of having in-house plate production, which allows us to respond to any demand from our customers and to adjust job times as we need to.”

He concludes, “The investment in Flexcel NX has been worthwhile, because not only has it allowed us to reach more customers, but it also generates concrete benefits such as printing with fewer colors and achieving the same result as printing with eight colors, for example. Thanks to this and the other savings achieved with the equipment from Miraclon, such as using fewer plates, less need for equipment usage and therefore also less solvent usage, we are a more sustainable business. It also brings us other benefits such as not having problems with plates as we did before. So, all of that translates into an economic benefit.”

The pandemic has been a challenge for Siflex Packaging, but being classified as an essential company, it has been able to maintain production, despite the problems caused by the shortage of raw materials. Sirhan is positive about the future. “This year the company is already growing, and we hope to continue to do so in the coming year, as we have a very close relationship with our customers, and we strive to build customer loyalty with the best quality and service.”

Edited by Packaging South Asia from a case study submitted by Miraclon.

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