Esko rides workflow and CDI boom

Digital flexo Imaging in South Asia


a CDI Compact
The first digital flexo imager in South Asia, a CDI Compact, was installed in 2000 by Packages Limited in Lahore, Pakistan. The second digital imager, again a CDI, was perhaps that of JDC Graphics in Colombo, Sri Lanka, one of the larger prepress trade-houses in the subcontinent. Numex Blocks of Mumbai in India installed its first CDI in 2002. Numex traded in or upgraded the device twice reaching a maximum size capability of 48 x 35 inch size in 2005. Then came the installation of a CDI 4835 at trade house Digital Process in Karachi, Pakistan in 2005. One of the incentives at Digital Process which is affiliated to the large packaging printer and converter Compass Packaging, was the need to image Flint’s new Double Gold plate for achieving high quality halftone flexo gold. Digital Process uses an Esko workflow to drive its CDI imager.

Packages Ltd in Lahore has recently upgraded their entire pre-production workflow to Esko’s Software Suite 7. Esko’s extremely clever FlexRIP drives all kinds of output devices at Packages including the digital flexo imager CDI Compact 4835, the Kongsberg XL20 samplemaking machine and the offset computer to plate from Luscher, the computer to film imagesetter from Heidelberg and the gravure cylinder engaver from Hell. Moreover the FlexRIP also drives numerous proofing devices. In fact this is a great demonstration of the FlexRIPs capability of driving just about anything except the coffee machine and the car.

Ashrafi Enterprises in Karachi is primarily the dealer and agent in Pakistan for Flint products including Flint (formerly BASF) flexo plates. Ashrafi who we mentioned in our earlier story, have now installed the CDI Compact 3548 with a special drum for imaging Flint’s Double Gold plate for flexo which has an aluminium back and for offset varnish plates. At Ashrafi Esko’s FlexRIP drives the Compact 3548.

In Sri Lanka, it seems that JDC Graphics in Colombo continues to have the only digital flexo imager, a CDI.

Most of the leading packaging printers including the Printcare group continue to get their digital flexo plates at JDC. Meanwhile, JF&I Printers (the printing company associated with Janatha Finance & Investments) one of the leading folding carton converters in Sri Lanka, has upgraded its entire prepress workflow to Esko Software Suite 7. JF&I runs FlexRIP to drive an offset Computer to plate device, the Plate Driver from Esko.

In India the digital flexo imagers are at Numex Blocks in Mumbai who installed a CDI in 2002 and have since then twice upgraded the device so that it has reached the maximum capability of 48 x 35 inches in 2005. In 2006 Pinmark installed the Kodak Thermoflex with a large format DuPont processing system in Ahmedabad. Then came the imagers in the south, with Color Dots in Chennai and Veepee in Bangalore installing Esko CDI Spark 4835 imagers with a maximum plate size of 48 x 35 inches.

The new installs in India include A-designer in Baroda who have put in the largest imager in the subcontinent, an Esko CDI 4260. This is one of the first indications that wide web flexo is gaining traction in the country and A-designer supplies digital flexo plates to many of the leading food related wide web flexo printing and converting companies around the country.

A-designer has installed a full size DuPont Cyrel 2001 processing system to complete its CDI 4260 set up and updated its software to the Esko Software Suite 7 including Flexo Perfection. Flexo Perfection is expected to improve the quality of halftone work in the highlight areas by giving additional structural support to the very small one and two per cent dots that are traditionally unable to stand up to the wear and tear of the flexo printing process.

Wintek Flexo in Bangalore will install the first in-house digital flexo imager in the country, an Esko CDI 2120 by mid-November at its new facility in the Kanakpura area of Bangalore. Wintek’s equipment has already been delivered. Wintek’s Kanakpura plant will have a total of 22,000 square feet and will house the entire gamut of Wintek’s activities including the digital prepress (Esko’s Software Suite 7 was installed six months ago) and its narrow web flexo and sheetfed offset preses.

Wintek run five narrow web flexo presses including two Mark Andy A30’s and two 8-colour Gallus presses bought in 2001 and 2004. The company finalised its order for another Gallus narrow web flexo press, this time a 10-colour EM280 at the recently held Label Expo at Brussels. Wintek’s Gururaj has also told us that he has finalised his order for a new Komori 6-colour sheetfed offset in the 20 x 29 inch format.

Essel Propack, the largest laminated tube manufacturer in the world with plants in India, China, Russia, Europe, and North America has opened a new prepress or preproduction facility for its global needs. The new facility called Epitome, is in Mulund, a suburb that is quite near the Mumbai domestic airport. The facility has been started with the installation of the entire Esko Software Suite 7.0.

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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– Naresh Khanna

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