US flexo platemaking house Mark-Maker has installed the XSYS ThermoFlexX Catena-W washout unit, becoming one of the first in the US to do so.

The wash-out unit becomes part of a full XSYS plate production workflow at the Michigan-based company, comprising a ThermoFlexX 80 imager, nyloflex Xpress Thermal Processor and Woodpecker surface screening technology. Mark-Maker is a long-term user of nyloflex plates, and outputs plates up to 50 x 80-inches in size.

Aaron Pettijohn, president of Mark-Maker, commented on the standards of service and support the business has enjoyed from XSYS, as well as the quality of the products. When an old washout unit came to the end of its useful life, the choice was an easy one. ‘It quickly became clear that the Catena-W would not only offer superior quality but also make a really big difference in terms of automated plate handling, a reduction in washout solution usage, and improvement in overall efficiency.’

Prepress manager Jason Sikkema says that Mark-Maker has reduced washout solution consumption by around 50% because the Catena system uses a small and precise measure of solution for each plate. Costs and sustainability gains have also been made in energy usage. In addition, the washout unit has numerous features to reduce operator intervention, including hands-free, internal pin bars to transport plates through the process, making plate punching a thing of the past. It also features plate alignment technology to avoid plate skew during transport, and advanced plate queueing which limits the distance between plates to 20 inches (50cm) to maximise productivity.

Another attractive feature of Catena-W was its remote servicing capability, speeding up resolution of issues and enabling monitoring reporting on factors such as motor current, controllers, operating conditions and working temperatures.

Mr Pettijohn concluded that the investment will support Mark-Maker’s future ambitions, saying, ‘We wanted a washer that would futureproof our investment, should we decide to build up to fully automated platemaking. The innovative Catena+ line is very enticing, and it would certainly fit well with our ambitious growth plans and our goal to always be ahead of the curve, so we can provide our customers with fast and reliable service of the best flexo plates in the market.’