The ONE Blog

Kodak’s digitally ‘customizable’ flexo plate gets the thumbs-up from drupa visitors

  • July 29, 2016
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It's a truth that the things that we love the most about flexo printing can also provide significant challenges for flexo prepress and print providers. The wide variety of substrates and ink types that are used in flexo printing make flexography one of the most versatile of all the print processes used in package production, but can also provide a potential headache for the plate maker, driving a need to stock multiple plate types for multiple applications. This plate for high quality UV linework, that plate for absorbent paper substrates, yet another plate for printing white ink on film with high volume anilox rolls, and maybe yet another plate for everything in between. Multiple plate types can increase inventory, decrease productivity and introduce opportunities for error. Recent announcements from multiple flexo plate suppliers that promise entire new ranges of plates with engineered plate surfaces for particular applications have the potential to further exacerbate the problem for prepress operations.

At drupa, Kodak shared innovative new technologies with visitors that offer a practical solution to the challenge, with software and imaging capabilities that enable plate makers to digitally customize a single plate type for multiple applications. The KODAK FLEXCEL NX System '16 offers simplified inventory for plate makers with a single plate type that can be digitally customized to deliver outstanding print performance in client-specific applications.  Being a supplier that offers a fully integrated flexo plate making system (imager, imaging software and plate materials all designed to work precisely together) gives Kodak a major advantage. The newly launched FLEXCEL NX System '16 includes features that precisely customize the imaged FLEXCEL NX Plate surface during imaging to provide optimum ink transfer capabilities for a specific application. It's a technical approach that offers greater precision, consistency and on-press performance than manufactured, engineered surfaces and one that gives the plate-making operation the ability to offer a range of plate solutions with a very simple plate inventory. A small range of Advanced KODAK DIGICAP NX Patterns, that incorporate Advanced Edge Definition, a newly patented KODAK Technology, provide the different surface characteristics required to optimize print performance across a range of substrates, ink types and anilox volumes, eliminating the need for multiple raw material plate types. 

The set of six available patterns have been expertly engineered using deliberate sizing and spacing to facilitate optimum ink transfer (and minimum ink usage) with a range of different anilox volumes, and the Advanced Edge Definition technology controls ink flow at the edge of objects, producing cleaner print, increased contrast and greater visual edge definition.  The pattern elements, where even the largest is smaller than the width of a human hair, are reproduced precisely each time due to the unique imaging characteristics of the FLEXCEL NX System which ensures pixel-for-pixel reproduction from file to plate every single time. Through the use of a new feature called NX Tags, plate makers can apply multiple patterns to a single plate layout making the whole process efficient and productive.

Customer reaction to the digitally 'customizable' plate solution at the show was extremely positive - reinforced by the realization that every single flexo printed label, flexible package, bag, carton and pre-print liner sample on display on the impressive Kodak booth was produced using a single FLEXCEL NX Plate type. Amazing. Certainly a great opportunity for prepress suppliers and in-house plate making operations to increase capabilities while simplifying internal operations and inventory.