Italian prepress service provider, Flexolution, recently installed a second Kodak Flexcel NX Wide imaging system from Miraclon to keep up with production and demand as the company expands its services to include wide-web printing.
Producing stable, high-performance plates, the system will continue to benefit customers by enabling faster start-ups and delivering high print densities that will save ink and reduce waste, while producing exceptional print quality.
Luca Ferrari, Director at Flexolution, says: “Flexolution is known in the narrow-web sector for the high quality and efficiency we deliver with Flexcel NX Plates and we started to receive many requests from the wide-web market too. I knew that if we were going to try and break into such a competitive market, we needed the best technology that could deliver the highest quality.
“The only possible technological choice was Flexcel NX Technology, which sets the market benchmark for the highest quality – in line with our philosophy – by using the most reliable system for flexo flat top dot polymer plates while improving optical density and print quality. We wanted to be sure we had a stable, repeatable plate that would allow us to reproduce the pixels with an optimal resolution.”
In 2018, Flexolution installed a Flexcel NX Wide 4260 System with a 1067 x 1524 mm plate format and, in 2021, another Flexcel NX Wide 5080 System with a 1270 x 2032 mm plate format. The larger format also brings additional benefits, like allowing the company to optimize the plate space usage, reducing waste and increasing productivity.”
Satisfied and loyal customers
Luca explains how he gets the most out of class-leading technology such as a Flexcel NX System: “Commercial success as a prepress service provider depended first and foremost on the availability of the provider and on their ability to listen. This approach has allowed us to become a global consultant for larger companies to carry out feasibility studies from the earliest stages of product development. Our plates are 100% customized for each customer, so we create customized color profiles for their specific printing press and fine-tune color profiles to offer a stable plate so that it can print as close as possible to ISO standards.”
Printers obviously appreciate his efforts as they return time and again, while orders for wide-web jobs are also continuously increasing. Flexolution’s core market, which currently provides almost two million euros in revenue, is the food packaging sector and there are many label makers and flexible packaging printers who specify Flexcel NX plates. “A good example of the benefits they enjoy is a flexible packaging printer that recently produced 400 thousand metres of material and said the plate was stable and performed perfectly for the full length of the run”, adds Luca. “Flexcel NX Technology has also enabled us to be very competitive with gravure, thanks to the higher optical density achieved with Digicap NX Patterning Technology.”
The secret: Digicap NX Patterning Technology
Thanks to the Digicap NX Patterning Technology, a micro surface texturization pattern is applied to the surface of all elements on the Flexcel NX plate with the result that, as Luca explains, “a greater pattern density and a reduction in ink volume is achieved, which translates into a better quality of highlights, while printers experience reduced start-up times and ink savings because, with Flexcel NX plates, they go straight into the production run.”
Digicap NX Patterning Technology also takes full advantage of Kodak SquareSpot Imaging Technology and its optical engraving resolution of 10,000 dpi that allows printers to reach a higher level of stability, accuracy and reliability in their printing operation.
Flexo - a competitive advantage over offset, gravure and digital
When Flexolution was established, its customers were competing with offset printing. “But now,” says Luca, “considering the decrease in print run lengths, they also compete with digital. So, to give our customers the competitive edge, we have to supply the right plates that enable reduced make-ready times and fixed palette printing. Flexcel NX Plates enables us to do so. We are also investing in color management software, which allows us to convert colors from Pantone to four-color process jobs, demonstrating that this transition is not only possible with digital printing but also with flexo.”
For labels, today it is possible to produce greater brightness with flexo than with offset, thanks to the stability of the Flexcel NX plate. Flexcel NX Technology offers major benefits for flexible packaging too, as Luca reveals: "Predominantly thanks to the decrease in print run lengths and the continuous change of jobs, Flexcel NX plates have allowed us to be very competitive with gravure thanks to the higher ink densities delivered by incorporating Digicap NX Patterning. In fact, some customers have successfully switched jobs from gravure to flexo.”
Flexolution has been well placed in many awards, including at Bestinflexo (hosted by the Italian Technical Association for Flexography ATIF). The company was awarded second place at Bestinflexo 2019 in the narrow-web film category with a job printed by Pagani Print. Luca elaborates: “The application was originally designed in seven colors and, since three similar versions were required, 21 plates and three press start-ups would have been needed. But, thanks to Flexcel NX Technology, which guarantees unparalleled ink density and spreading, and an accurate analysis and characterization of the customer's printing press, we were able to create all three versions with five colors (four-color plus white) and combine them on a single plate.”
This practical example makes it clear how much this technology can enable high-quality print, while allowing the printer to save time and money at the end of the year. “Any usual investment made to adopt a new technology will be repaid in a very short time with Flexcel NX Technology. Thanks to Digicap NX Patterning from Miraclon, we can reduce the flow rate of an anilox by two grams, but achieving a better yield while saving ink at the same time,” concludes Luca.