New Flexo Engine from Esko

New automation features and functionality

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Flexo Esko
Plate ID new feature for Flexo Engine

Flexo plate producers can now save time, simplify operations and benefit from greater productivity following the launch of Flexo Engine, the latest innovation from Esko.

As part of the recently released Esko Software 21.11, the latest version of the market-leading 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 plate-making process,” he said. “For example, an intuitive dashboard helps to simplify operations, while connectivity with third party equipment ensures a completely connected workflow.”

Flexographic plates for the print process

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, color 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 the technology to image all of this vital information on the flexo plate below the printing surface,” said Robert. “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 minimization, as plate identification can be added inside the design area or a gap in a step and repeat
  • Minimized time is 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 newly 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 Robert. “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 1,000 jobs per year, automating this task can save around 250 hours each year,” said Robert. “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.

“Esko remains committed to accelerating the go-to-market process of packaged goods and boosting plate productivity with new Flexo Engine is a further step towards digitizing, automating and connecting the process, which is crucial to businesses,” added Robert. “Flexo Engine delivers greater efficiency and productivity across the flexo plate workflow and is an integral tool for businesses taking the next steps along their own digital transformation journey.”

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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