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JT Prepress Express invests in Esko CDI with HD Flexo for better highlights on flexo plates and faster imaging

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Press release from the issuing company

Service bureau uses Esko prepress front end and flexo plate imaging to produce higher quality plates faster

Miamisburg, OH – Waiting until they could invest in a digital flexo plate imaging system they believed could exceed the work they did with analog processes, JT Prepress Express has purchased an Esko (www.esko.com) CDI Spark 2530 imager with HD Flexo along with an ArtPro prepress front end. 

Service bureau backed by years of experience

Based in Costa Mesa, CA, JT Prepress Express, Inc. is a trade shop that produces film and plates for its clients, and does all of the prepress and graphic manipulation work to assure the printed result is as good as possible.

"I've been involved with flexo printing for more than 30 years. In 1999, after working for another label company, I decided to do it on my own," recalls Joe Cantarella, president. "My philosophy in this industry is that you have to either lead, follow or get out of the way. The successful companies invest and keep up with technology. In 1999, we invested in an ArtPro front-end prepress system and a drum imagesetter. With the benefit of our experience, we were creating analog plates that I believe were better than digital ones. I always wanted to be a technology leader, but wanted to make the investment when I was certain that the technology offered better results than what I was doing. For twelve years, I believe I was able to produce better analog plates than digital plates. I was extremely competitive compared to many other trade bureaus—until about three or four years ago."

"We decided to conduct head-to-head tests against three or four imagers. Esko's CDI flexo plate imagers with HD Flexo held a smaller highlight dot than I could, and used stochastic screening in the highlights under 10% with small bumps to hold these dots. It was better than what I could do," admits Cantarella. "I attended Labelexpo in September and was able to invest in an Esko Spark CDI 2530 flexo imager with HD Flexo. Along with our ArtPro front end and the Esko FlexRIP, it gave me an exceptional system. I believe it is important to combine all the features of the software and plate imaging, because it can deliver a higher quality plate."

HD Flexo combines high resolution, 4000 dpi optics—similar to using an ultra-fine pencil to write on paper—with proven screening technology used by many printers as the ideal solution for highlights and exceptional flexo print quality. This combination makes it possible to achieve outstanding print quality with a straightforward plate production process. Just as significant, this technology is easy to use. There is no longer any need for tweaking or adjustments—it is simple and straightforward.

"We were looking for two things. First, of course, we wanted to offer a better quality product. Second, we were looking to save time. With a plate imager, we did not have to RIP, process and cut film before we even began to expose the plate. And, no matter how clean the film is, there is always some particulate. That has disappeared with platesetting," explains Cantarella. "Before, presses were limited to 120 lpi at best. Now, with digital flexo presses that can hold the dots, better aniloxes, and a higher-end digital plate, they are printing light years better, at 175 lpi. Esko's HD Flexo plates puts our clients—for example, those who print labels for wine bottles—in the realm of high-end premium printing."

JT Prepress Express has been producing digital plates for a couple of months. They no longer have to spend the time to adjust photographs to assure that there is not a hard edge around a 1% dot. With HD Flexo, they are able to produce smooth vignettes from 10%, down. "I was surprised about the way it handles highlights," comments Cantarella.

JT Prepress Express is also producing plates 40-50% faster. "I can send several files and compose them on one sheet on material. It takes only 13 minutes to image the plates. With our analog process, it took 25 minutes to expose the film, and then run it through a processor, image the plate, and run the plate through a processor. 

"Our most important clients were a major reason we decided to look into digital plate imaging seriously. They were beginning to receive plates from a larger competitor," remembers Cantarella. "We asked them to compare plates, head to head, and they could not see a difference. In addition, we were able to provide larger repeats and deliver plates much faster—and less expensively."

Cantarella is also really impressed with their new FlexoClean tool for Adobe Photoshop. It allows them to very quickly remove scum dots from an image. The image filter prevents scattered dots or holes on the plate by cleaning up the separations. Meanwhile, Automation Engine automatically creates the step & repeat, determines the cylinder distortion, and prepares a raster file for review before the file is sent to the imager.

"We can't wait to get samples back from our customers to show off how well the plates work, as well as to help us become HD Certified. With our new imaging system, next year I expect to work with three or four new clients—pretty significant for our small shop. In my opinion, Esko HD Flexo is the best flexographic digital imaging process in the market today. And, with Esko ArtPro, it lets me do things in 90 seconds that it takes others to do in 10 minutes in Adobe Illustrator," says Cantarella. "If you can offer a high quality plate, faster, it's a no-brainer."


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