Conversation – Grant Blewett of Miraclon at Labelexpo India

Convincing arguments for the business benefits of Flexcel NX

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Miraclon
Grant Blewett at Miraclon stand. Photo PSA

Miraclon brought along a high-powered team to Labelexpo India in Greater Noida, which was keen to discuss in detail both the Flexcel NX technology and its business benefits with flexo printers, and with the burgeoning trade shop suppliers of flexo plates across the country. At its stand, the Miraclon team took the time to explain the technology to each visitor through the technical presentations of the Flexcel NX Print Suite and its latest development PureFlexo.

Naresh Khanna

In our conversation with Grant Blewett, the chief commercial officer of Miraclon, what we understood was that Miraclon owns the production plants for the Flexcel NX plates and continues to develop them with continuous research. He said to us that the technology has two inherent advantages that allow improvements in its use – the first is the exposure unit that uses a laser, which creates a square spot comprising a very high number of spots. This is claimed to allow spots that can create very high-resolution shapes, contours, and edges that are used to create halftone dots or line work. Blewett described it as the ability “to sculpt the profile of the laser beam.” And the second advantage is the thermal imaging layer – the LAMs sheet that is exposed in the imaging device for the creation of various textures on the surface of the dots.

According to Blewett, it is these two inherent qualities of the Flexcel process that enable Miraclon to keep coming up with innovations in their imaging, simply by upgrading the software. He confirmed to us that these improvements are field upgradeable and even users with Flexcel NX systems purchased years ago can benefit by upgrading the imaging software and using them.

The latest award-winning feature PureFlexo Printing was explained in detail at the stand for controlling the unwanted spread of ink while printing. “It is the shape of the surface of the dots that allows PureFlexo to control unwanted ink spread and greater latitude on the press to meet today’s high-quality expectations of brand clients while maximizing plant output and efficiency,” Blewett said. “However quality is a given, and we don’t even talk about it. We are keener to explain and show how Flexcel NX delivers real time-to-market, cost, and sustainability benefits for the packaging and label supply chain.”

He also spoke about Flexo Central, Miraclon’s highly automated layout program that can automate and optimize the flexo platemaking process by perhaps 10%. It also allows for the mixing of dot textures on the same flexo plate for enhancing the reproduction of solids and text.

When we asked him about the recent proliferation of flexo trade shops in the country, he said this was a very positive sign for the technology. “The black magic is in the trade shop – the special skills and service levels of demanding customers can only be provided by very highly skilled people. And these highly paid people can only be justified by high volumes of work. It is only if a printer has high volumes that he can justify bringing the flexo platemaking in-house. There’s a significant premium in using our technology and the trade shop has to be able to charge a premium. We are quite upfront when we tell our customers, ‘Let us help you maintain your margins’.”

Blewett was not shy in talking about money since his entire approach is that the entire flexo process can be most wasteful in the press room. He echoes the refrain of us old timers, that the real quality and profit are in the prepress. With our technology you can optimize, standardize and industrialize the prepress process, he says. “Flexography process control is difficult in the pressroom – there are too many variables. This is where the money is lost he says – in the lost productivity in running the press. With Flexcel NX plates and Pure Flexo, you can reduce ink and increase the speed of the press. You can run clean!”

Blewett was keen that visitors to the Labelexpo use the opportunity to understand the technologies that can help make their workflows and production more efficient and subsequently relieve some of the financial pressures felt across the globe today. Our final question was to ask him about Miraclon’s capacity to keep coming up with improvements, enhancements, and innovations. Blewett never at a loss for words, said, “Our problem is in introducing the innovations at the same speed as they come – to introduce them ‘robustly’ in the region.”

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– Naresh Khanna (25 October 2023)

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Editor of Indian Printer and Publisher since 1979 and Packaging South Asia since 2007. Trained as an offset printer and IBM 360 computer programmer. Active in the movement to implement Indian scripts for computer-aided typesetting. Worked as a consultant and trainer to the Indian print and newspaper industry. Visiting faculty of IDC at IIT Powai in the 1990s. Also founder of IPP Services, Training and Research and has worked as its principal industry researcher since 1999. Author of book: Miracle of Indian Democracy.

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