Bobst hosts open house at new Flexo Center of Excellence

Full end-to-end flexo process experience


The Competence Center at Bobst Bielefeld’s has been extended to include a prepress room, which means it is now a fully comprehensive Center of Excellence for the flexo process, specifically for Extended Color Gamut (ECG) for wide-web CI flexo presses. The Center benefits from an ‘open-partnership system, meaning all of BOBST’s valued industry partners are present, ensuring the integration of all the elements that combine to make a flawless end-to-end process. 

Bobst Bielefeld is now the ultimate Center of Excellence,” said Mark McInulty, managing director, Bobst Bielefeld. “It provides an invaluable central facility for testing and continuous development of the ECG process for BOBST and industry suppliers in our open-partnership system. The Center helps our CI flexo printing customers to maximize the advantages derived from the implementation of the ECG process to the fullest.”

The use of ECG is growing steadily. The process uses three additional ink colors – orange, green and violet (OGV) – on top of the conventional colors of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK), enabling a match with 90%+ of the Pantone book, compared with approximately 60% previously. For a converter, its adoption means many sizable economies of time and cost: no more changes of inks and resulting washing of print decks, no need for a huge ink inventory for storing spot inks, no time wasted in ink mixing and a guarantee of color consistency for jobs that are run a long time apart or in different parts of the world.   

BOBST equipment shown at the Open House included VISION CI, the Digital Inspection Table, and Connected Services.

Partnerships for the perfect process

Open House visitors experienced the entire flexo process from file to the printed reel by talking to the various BOBST partners at different stations about different topics, starting from the prepress facility that houses latest generation equipment shown live at the event. U. Günther Prepress illustrated its capabilities in packaging design-to-print process with its connected services and cost reducing solutions, delivering optimized performance for an efficient design-to-ECG print process. Miraclon houses a KODAK FLEXCEL NX Wide 4260 System for production of KODAK FLEXCEL NXH Plates in the center. Miraclon helps to meet the unique challenges of ECG printing with patented plate technologies that enable ink transfer to be controlled and optimized for a defined process print condition. It brings to the ECG project of press and plate harmonization, more than a decade of experience working with printers and prepress specialists globally to drive greater adoption of process printing for flexo. Glunz & Jensen houses a Flex-i-Pro 470 plate-making machine, along with the hot air dryer Concept 401D and the exposure unit 401 ECLF for large flexographic plates 1200 x 1530 mm. Glunz & Jensen brings to the project its 45 years of experience in innovative, high-quality plate making solutions for all plate processing requirements. ESKO houses an Esko XPS Crystal 4835 exposure unit, a Kongsberg X20 cutting table and the complete pre-press software required to produce ECG print ready files. Together with BOBST, Esko puts the spotlight on the value created by their partnership, showing attendees on how they can drive their own business forward on the journey of digital transformation, be it in customer communication, prepress editing, workflow automation, color management or business integration.

Other partners illustrated their technologies and knowledge within the framework of the harmonization of all the elements that concur to achieving the best and most efficient results with ECG printing. Rossini’s contribution to the ECG project are Starcoat Light sleeves, which offer exceptional dimensional stability and accuracy over time, and Fastbridge adapters, which offer superior absorption of vibration whilst allowing considerably faster print speeds. Lohmann presented the DuploFLEX5 range of plate mounting tape highlighting how the complex technology hidden in the “thinnest” tool for the flexographic printing process contributes to make ECG printing possible. Zecher explained that to produce a high quality anilox is self-evident, but optimizing and influencing the consistent and reproducible print quality through the help of an anilox is a major differentiator. Daetwyler presented MDC-Gamutstar, the blade specifically designed for the ECG process, delivering high precision and extended blade life for long runs and multiple jobs. Flint Group enlightened attendees about the powerful possibilities of ECG printing as a game changer for flexible packaging in delivering greater adaptability, shorter lead times, higher quality and higher definition. Flint Group supports the ECG project with its FlexiPrint solvent-based inks which were used in the print demonstration on the EXPERT CI flexo press. Follmann spoke about the cost-efficiency of water-based ink printing and their positive contribution to CO2-reduction. The single-component solution of the brilliant ink system, fast make-ready times while ensuring color fastness, longer plates lifetime and a stable printing process also contribute to cost efficiency. Follmann inks were used in the print demonstration on the VISION CI flexo press. X-Rite PANTONE’s presentation focused on color consistency control in ECG printing and how its industry-leading technology solutions, designed to streamline the digital color workflow process, support packaging converters in profiling their press to get the most accurate fingerprint data.

Presentations were followed by print demonstrations on the VISION CI and on the EXPERT CI flexo presses equipped with all the latest technologies presented by the partners in the ECG open partnership project. Quality control of the print samples was made on the Digital Inspection table, while connected services were demonstrated live in the Bobst Bielefeld dedicated Training Center facility.   

Every single partner we work with brings so much to the table in terms of innovation and optimizing the flexo process,” said McInulty. “The Open House is actually the perfect example of seamless collaboration in action – many companies coming together to combine their expertise and resources to create an optimized experience for our customers. We are delighted to work with all of our partners and to welcome them to the Center of Excellence.”

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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