Esko and Asahi Photoproducts have collaborated to build a fully automated flexo platemaking line, CrystalCleanConnect, which was launched at this year’s virtual.drupa.

‘With CrystalCleanConnect we have brought together key hardware and software technologies from both organisations to deliver a number of breakthrough advantages from design to print,’ said Pascal Thomas, director of flexo business with Esko. ‘CrystalCleanConnect delivers a cleaner, more environmentally balanced operation that simplifies the flexo platemaking process, improves safety and boosts print quality consistency.’

CrystalCleanConnect fully automates the entire platemaking process, from imaging and exposure through to plate production, reducing the number of steps in the flexo platemaking process from 12 to just one. This equates to a reduction from 36 minutes in platemaking and plate cutting to just 2.5 minutes of operator time to complete all processing steps.

‘With CrystalCleanConnect, the operational benefits to businesses are as pronounced as the environmental benefits,’ said Mr Thomas. ‘With the removal of so many process steps, there’s an immediate 90% reduction in required operator time, which not only eliminates the potential for human error but also delivers immediate efficiency gains. Quality is assured through Asahi and Esko technologies working in complete harmony, and the combination of improved efficiency and quality delivers an average increase of 25% in press OEE.’

Dieter Niederstadt, technical marketing manager for Asahi Photoproducts said, ‘Flexo needs to simplify processes while improving quality, consistency and profitability. In doing so, flexo can create new business opportunities and positively transform into a printing technology in balance with the environment.

‘This breakthrough innovation is different in many ways to other solutions on the market,’ Mr Niederstadt said, ‘It is not just an assembly of available plate making processes delivered inline, but rather a holistic approach to connecting technologies, up and downstream of the prepress value chain, using an intelligent automation hub as the backbone and heart of the solution. CCC is truly pushing boundaries to the current scope of plate automation delivering a mount-ready plate as well as being the first automated production solution without the need for VOC-based washout solvents in in the platemaking process.’