Flexo plate innovation from Miraclon improves sustainability, process efficiency and print quality

Tuesday 07. July 2020 - At U. Günther GmbH of Hamburg, Germany, the KODAK FLEXCEL NX Ultra Solution is rapidly becoming an indispensable option for customers seeking premium flexo plates that combine high quality packaging printing with eco-friendly production. The Miraclon solution unites all of the quality and performance benefits of the well-established KODAK FLEXCEL solutions with solvent-free, VOC-free, water-based plate processing. Speed is a further point in favor of the FLEXCEL NX Ultra Solution. Press-ready KODAK FLEXCEL NX Ultra Plates can be produced in less than an hour.

Excellence cluster for all aspects of packaging
Apart from platemaking, U. Günther’s portfolio also covers many other components such as consulting, packaging design, artwork, mock-up production, reproduction, proofing and production support. The company interacts closely with its subsidiaries PreCess GmbH of Neetze and CI Jaehde GmbH of Berlin. Peter Tarnowski is Managing Director of all three firms, which together employ around 170 people.
U. Günther owns two KODAK FLEXCEL NX Wide 5080 Systems that can handle any flexo plates up to 1270 x 2032 mm in size. The only additional equipment which needed to be installed in order to use the FLEXCEL NX Ultra Solution was a FLEXCEL NX Ultra Processing System, in which the patented KODAK Ultra Clean Technology ensures clean and efficiently processed plates.
Innovative technology plays a leading role
“We’re always interested in testing the limits of what is doable with innovative production solutions. That’s why the FLEXCEL NX Ultra Solution is exactly right for us. Its solvent-free processing principle supports our efforts to establish sustainable practices and improve our employees’ work environment,” says Thomas Pyssa, Operations Manager at U. Günther. “The significantly shorter platemaking time is a big advantage compared to solvent based systems because it means we realize higher throughput on the line and also much higher productivity. That helps us meet demands for faster plate availability in order to shorten the time to market.” What’s more, according to Pyssa, the KODAK Ultra Clean Technology effectively prevents photopolymer residues from building up inside the processor or on the plate surface. FLEXCEL NX Ultra consequently manages with far less maintenance than other water washable or solvent based systems.
Paving the way for higher flexo quality
Thanks to the KODAK FLEXCEL NX Ultra Plates, U. Günther can now offer packaging printers fast delivery plus an array of application benefits. The prepress service provider’s collaboration with OMM Kunststofftechnik GmbH of Lindlar is just one example here. A manufacturer of film, flexible packaging and labels for numerous different industries and clients all over Germany and its near neighbors, OMM has 70 staff on the payroll. Production mainly takes place on a ten-color, central-cylinder flexo press, which is operated in three shifts and designed for a maximum web width of 1400 mm.
OMM was attracted to FLEXCEL NX Ultra Plates first of all because their use promised a major quality leap, especially where more demanding jobs are concerned. Second, owing to their environmentally friendly production process, the new flexo plates fitted in with the company’s sustainability-oriented business model – including packaging made from recycled or organic film.
Smooth introduction, rapid success with demanding print jobs
The introduction of the FLEXCEL NX Ultra Plates in June 2019 was completed without a hitch. “We carried out a monochrome print test to begin with. U. Günther then analyzed the prints and adapted the output curve as well as the plate surface patterning. We moved on to a four-color print test next, and it wasn’t long before we were able to undertake the first commercial production run,” explains Stephan Bühl, OMM’s CEO. Today, the company regularly uses FLEXCEL NX Ultra Plates to print jobs of various sizes in runs typically between 10,000 and 100,000 m in length.
“The FLEXCEL NX Ultra Plates let us increase the screen ruling to a maximum of 200 lpi for high-value jobs with up to eight or ten colors. That way, we achieve excellent printable densities and tonal reproduction as well as absolutely clean highlights, even without investing in new anilox rollers,” Bühl continues.
Daniel Brochhagen, Sales Representative for OMM, adds: “This quality leap has also meant an enormous leap forward for us with customers who are traditionally committed to gravure and expect flexo to deliver a similar level of quality. Since going over to FLEXCEL NX Ultra Plates we’ve increasingly succeeded in winning classic gravure jobs for flexo and targeting new customers. We’re well and truly convinced by these plates: they keep the promises that were made to us in every respect.”
Finally, based on the first practical experience with other jobs at U. Günther, the use of new screening technologies in conjunction with FLEXCEL NX Ultra Plates appears to be an enabler for even higher quality and press availability. To allow brand owners and packaging printers to get first-hand information on these exciting opportunities, U. Günther organizes regular “Flexo Breakfast Events” with selected partners at various locations. These events will additionally be offered online in the near future.
Back to overview