ACM
Asahi Kasei’s AWP-LOOP TM membrane separation technology delivering cutting- edge water treatment capability.

Asahi Photoproducts, a pioneer in flexographic photopolymer plate development, recently reported that Italian converter ACM Flexible Packaging, based in Cremosano near Milan, has partnered with Asahi Photoproducts to create a highly sustainable, Solvent FREE, prepress operation with flexographic plates that are capable of delivering high quality, cost-effective, short-run printing with faster turn times than the competition. 

This is enabled by using Asahi Photoproducts’ AWP CleanPrint water-wash plates that are certified Carbon Neutral. In addition, the company has acquired Asahi’s AWP TM -LOOP water recycling unit that enables reuse of 80% of the water used in plate processing, ACM was the first company in Europe to install this innovative solution. The company also employs an Esko Crystal CDI exposure unit and XPS imaging system. Plates are processed with an Asahi AWP TM -4260 PLF plate processor. This highly sustainable solution is unique in Europe, setting the company apart from its competition.

Founded in 2005 by Massimo Raffaele and Antonio La Franceschina, the company was an early adopter of UV-LED curing and proved the technology’s viability at a time when brands were sceptical due to ink migration concerns.

Specializing in the food and pharma sectors, ACM’s printing is now 100 % solvent-free and takes place on a fleet of Omet Varyflex flexo machines, all equipped with UV-LED curing, as well as an 8-color Uteco water-based flexo press. ACM’s pre-press operation not only produces plates for ACM but also for other wide-web printing sites owned by its parent company, SIT Group.

“Our strategy in working with suppliers such as Asahi Photoproducts is to build a partnership, rather than just a vendor relationship,” said Andrea Belloli, the company’s branch manager, Italy and Middle East. “We also build those types of relationships with our customers, listening to their needs and requirements and adjusting accordingly. As an example, later this year we will install the first 50 by 80 large platemaking machine in the world here at ACM. This differentiates our company, and also offers our customers new services.”

Antonio La Franceschina, co-owner and CEO, added, “We are probably one of the only groups in Europe that have all the technology for flexographic printing systems. We start with digital, enabling us to offer mockups and very short run production. And with flexo, we use UV LED cured water wash flexo plates from Asahi that are Carbon Neutral. And we use the AWP-LOOP TM system to recycle 80% of the water. That ticks all the boxes – sustainability, quality, efficiency, and a more cost-effective solution for customers, especially those that need short run, fast turn work.”

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The capacity for flexible film manufacturing in India increased by 45% over the past four years. With orders in place, we expect another 20% capacity addition in 2024 and 2025. Capacities in monocartons, corrugation, aseptic liquid packaging, and labels are growing similarly. As the consumption story returns over the next six months, we expect demand to return and exceed the growth trajectory of previous years. The numbers are positive for most of the economies in the region – and as shown by our analytics, our platform increasingly reaches and influences these.

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– Naresh Khanna (25 October 2023)

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