Nabe Process improves efficiency with Asahi AWP flexographic plates

Overall number of press stops for plate cleaning is fewer

CrystalCleanConnect, a world-first fully automated flexographic platemaking solution jointly developed by Asahi Photoproducts and Esko
CrystalCleanConnect, a world-first fully automated flexographic platemaking solution jointly developed by Asahi Photoproducts and Esko

Asahi Photoproducts, a pioneer in flexographic photopolymer plate development, reported that Nabe Process, a major Japanese printing company, has tested Asahi’s AWP CleanPrint water-washable flexographic plates against conventional solvent-based plates to measure differences in quality and productivity between the two. 

The AWP plates, which were made with CrystalCleanConnect, demonstrated a significant improvement in print quality and productivity compared to the conventional solvent-developed flexographic plate. CrystalCleanConnect is a brand-new offering jointly developed by Asahi Photoproducts and Esko that automates the platemaking process, reducing steps from 17 to 1 and dramatically reducing the potential for error.

According to Nabe Process, the test was conducted using actual customer work, and all times and steps were carefully documented. It was notable that the Asahi AWP plates had excellent ink transfer, which contributed to the overall improved quality and fewer press stops for plate cleaning and other quality issues.

The design chosen by Nabe Process for this test contains fine highlights. To obtain the required quality with solvent-based plates, the press had to be stopped several times during the run to prevent ink filling. This was not the case with the Asahi AWP water-washable plates, which offer CleanPrint technology, initially developed by Asahi to improve the ink transfer from the plate surface to the printed material.

Asahi speaks about improving print quality and sustainability 

Yasuo Naka, general manager of Flexography Division, Nabe Process, commented, “From this result, we were able to confirm that we can deliver more stable and higher quality printed products to our customers using Asahi’s AWP water-washable plates. With the conventional solvent plate, we also had more difficulty in the printing process due to misregistration during printing. However, with the Asahi AWP plates, that problem is resolved, and productivity is dramatically improved. We are very happy with the performance of the AWP plates as a result.” 

“In addition, in the spring of 2021, we installed CrystalCleanConnect, a fully automatic plate-making device jointly developed by Asahi and Esko. That has added to our overall quality and productivity, getting plates to press much faster, with less operator engagement time, and with less opportunity for error. Based on these results, we are converting all of our flexographic plates to Asahi AWP water-washable CleanPrint plates, and we know our customers will be even more delighted than ever with the quality they receive from us.”

Yuzo Fujiki, chief technology officer of Printing Solution Project of Asahi Kasei Corporation, commented, “We were pleased to work with Nabe Process on this project to validate the excellent plate performance of our AWP water-washable plates in terms of both print quality and productivity. And we are thrilled that Nabe Process has chosen to create even more efficiency by installing the first CrystalCleanConnect system globally, the industry’s first fully automatic water-washable plate-making device developed in collaboration with Esko. As we continue to work with forward-thinking companies like Nabe Process, we will also be working toward continuous improvement of print quality as well as keeping sustainability top of mind.”


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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