Bengaluru-based Veepee Graphics is a leading flexo trade shop providing high-quality prepress and digitally imaged flexographic plates to major printers and converters in the label, flexible packaging and corrugated segments. A loyal user of Esko prepress solutions such as PackEdge, FlexRip and Plato and a pair of CDI imagers, Veepee achieved Esko full HD Flexo certification on the CDI 4260 imager in 2012.
More recently, Veepee invested in Esko’s Digital Flexo Suite (DFS) and a Kongsberg X20 cutting table. This powerful combination of software and specialized output device allows automation of the plate layout and design and with the precision cutting of the plates in unique ways for Veepee Graphics’ customers in each of its three flexo markets.
The Esko Digital Flexo Suite software allows the creation of an overall design and die lines of corrugated boxes where the areas requiring flexo printing are defined with precision and are accurately plotted like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. The Kongsberg is used to output the die lines on a Mylar sheet as well as define the decorative text and image areas—the pieces which are to be output on the flexographic material on the digital imager. After imaging, the flexo plate pieces, which have been numbered for easy placement using the Mylar sheet, are then precisely cut with beveled edges so that there is no ink build-up on the leading edges while printing. With this design efficiency, which accommodates the large unprinted areas of a corrugated box, Veepee is able to offer plates to corrugators at a lower price than before, while saving them enormous time in producing die lines and plate mounting.
Veepee Graphics is the first trade house in India to purchase a Kongsberg table for cutting flexo plates. Veepee’ s managing director, Jai Chandra, has always been one of the technology pioneers of the flexo industry in India and he has another innovation up his sleeve. Using the Esko DFS and the Kongsberg X20, he will be able to offer corrugated box printers what will be a one piece plate with the text and image areas already pasted on the Mylar sheet. Chandra says, “One piece plates using a Mylar backing sheet are already the practice in the U.S., Europe and China and it is only a matter of time before corrugators in India are educated in the best practices and technical requirements of producing quality printed boxes with some measure of cost efficiency. My job is only to make their job easier.”
Wide web flexography for flexible packaging, which is rapidly growing in India, also requires staggered layouts and finishing of plates to eliminate printing issues. Earlier, the staggered layout plates that had to be tediously and carefully cut by hand were difficult to mount. De-mounting the plates after a print run from the cylinder inevitably caused tearing and made them unfit for reuse.
“Prior to our investment in the Kongsberg, we would supply staggered plates but cutting of the plates happened at the convertor’s end which made it a risky job. Even a minor error would cost them dearly and even spoil the plate altogether. With precision and automated cutting of the plate edges the risk of damaging the plate by hand cutting is eliminated and the plate mounting is made much easier. The CI flexo presses run more smoothly with reduced or zero bounce from the plate edges. Our investment in the Kongsberg X20 has allowed us to offer a value-addition to our customers where we cut the plate with special radial edges free of charge for them,” explains Chandra. Staggered layouts and precision cutting of flexo plates is also extremely important for narrow web flexo especially for those printers who are producing small pharmaceutical labels. Staggering goes a long way in reducing the banding and gear marks. The staggered layout and precise edge finishing of plates on the Kongsberg allows the printing and inline converting operations to be better balanced and the press to run at higher speeds.
“These innovations and investments are part of our endeavor to be different from our competitors. It is a big investment but it has been worthwhile as we have got lot of appreciation from our customers. In fact one of our customers, Huhtamaki PPL has just won the Worldstar Gold Award for the Horlicks shrink label that was produced using plates supplied by us,” says Chandra with a wry smile.