Clean transfer tech improves flexo OEE by 53%

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Asahi Photoproducts, a pioneer in flexographic photopolymer plate development, will be showing its full line of flexographic plate solutions for the packaging industry featuring its Clean Transfer Technology at Print4All 2018 in Milan, from 29 May to 1 June 2018. Asahi will be located in pavillion 18, Stand F 35 at the show.

“Print4All is an excellent venue to showcase Asahi’s broad range of flexographic plate solutions,” states Andrea Belloli, Italian branch manager of Asahi Photoproducts. “We’ll be showing our widely popular AWPT water-washable plates, along with our AFPT-TOP and AFPT-TSP plates, all of which feature Clean Transfer Technology for the exceptional quality and overall equipment efficiency (OEE) that leading converters demand in a highly competitive marketplace. Clean Transfer Technology, unique to Asahi, is also designed to facilitate the fixed color palette printing process that is increasingly being adopted by converters all across Europe. We will also have available our new AFPT-DTH/TH plates designed for use under tough printing conditions such as under high printing pressure or with abrasive substrates. Visitors to our stand will also be able to see printed application examples and get advice from our experts about the best plates for their individual needs.”

Fixed color palette printing uses a fixed palette of up to seven inks to virtually eliminate the need for spot color inks. Because it uses a fixed set of inks, there is no wash-up required between jobs, and combo jobs are made easier. In addition, there is significantly less waste in the printing process, improving throughput and productivity. Asahi plates with clean transfer technology deliver consistent ink transfer throughout the run, required to implement this printing process successfully.

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Gateway’s Akers says, “The result was a total production time of 7.2 hours instead of 11 hours in the past and an astonishing 53% improvement in Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE) over our previous process.”

AWPT DEF/DEW, a unique plate-making technology that is a beneficial alternative to conventional flexographic plates, features a water washable plate technology that eliminates the need for high temperatures or VOC solvents in the plate-making process, delivering precise plate-to-plate registration with reduced odor in the plate-making process.

AFPT-TOP, a hard premium digital flexo plate, delivers a broad color gamut and soft tonal shades fading out to zero. Asahi’s AFPT-TOP uses kiss touch printing pressure settings that facilitate constant repeatability of printing quality during the production run, longer plate life and fewer cleaning intervals and press stop downtimes. These plates are compatible with many of the recent high-definition screening technologies such as Crystal and others.

AFPT-TSP, a medium-hard digital flexo plate optimized for a wide range of packaging substrates, from paper, folding carton and pre-print corrugated to flexible packaging and foil, is designed to deliver homogeneous ink laydown for both halftone and solid printing. Using these plates with AFPT-TOP plates delivers a fine, smooth gradation towards zero, increasing the range of applications that can be transferred to flexo from other printing technologies.

AFPT-TH/DTH is a robust, solvent-wash photopolymer plate with a strengthened polymer structure based on Asahi’s proprietary polymer technology that does not feature clean transfer technology. It does achieve excellent print quality in even the toughest flexographic printing environments and with highly abrasive substrates. The plate is available for either analog (TH) or digital (DTH) systems.

Voice of the customer
Gateway Packaging, a leading high-end printer and packaging converter and the largest pet food packaging provider in North America, recently restructured its entire platemaking process with Asahi Photoproducts solutions as the core element. The company performed extensive testing that led up to the final decision. “When running the Asahi clean transfer plates,” explained Tharrin Akers, the company’s prepress manager, “we were able to run the press at a 17% higher speed – 500 meters a minute (1,640 feet per minute) – and only had to stop for plate cleaning once. And that only required cleaning two plates, consuming 20 minutes. The result was a total production time of 7.2 hours instead of 11 hours in the past and an astonishing 53% improvement in Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE) over our previous process.”

Clean transfer technology – the details
A feature of many of Asahi’s flexographic printing plates, clean transfer technology enables a clean ink transfer and prevents ink accumulating on the plate surfaces and shoulders in screen areas. This leads to fewer cleaning intervals and reduced press downtime, as well as significant quality improvements. Precise plate register achieved with Asahi AWPT plates ensures very high quality process printing with a fixed color palette, minimizing the need to use and manage spot color inks.

Clean transfer technology allows kiss-touch printing pressure settings by making use of low plate surface tension, made possible by a specially engineered Asahi polymer chemistry, to inhibit liquid flow. The ink forms a globule, with a large contact angle and high pinning point. This results in a cleaner and more homogeneous ink transfer from plate to substrate, helping flexographic printers meet the ever-increasing quality demands of their customers.

For more information about clean transfer technology and other flexographic solutions from Asahi Photoproducts, visit www.asahi-photoproducts.com.