Reinhard Deim, Sales Manager and Board member at Repro Busek, comments on the investment in Kodak flexo technology, "Brand owners and printers are astonished when I show them the flexographic print quality we're achieving with the KODAK FLEXCEL NX System. It's the biggest quality leap I've seen in more than 30 years in the profession. The FLEXCEL NX Plates give us results that rival gravure in every respect-and in many cases are superior."
The quality leap Repro Busek is enjoying applies even with only four colors. The saturation of images is very impressive, and the high ink densities allow the gamut to be expanded significantly. Even with very fine screens such as 205lpi, it's possible to reproduce the complete tonal range from 0.4 to 99.6 percent. This represents an excellent starting point for printing smooth vignettes and gradients with no 'flexo break' effect in the critical highlights.
"If quality is your primary concern, there's no longer a valid reason to choose gravure," Deim continues. "The FLEXCEL NX System matches up to gravure quality-and it's often a very one-sided match in flexo's favor."
Awards underline increase in quality
Repro Busek has more than 40 years' experience in prepress and platemaking. The company has won numerous awards in recent years for its high-quality products. A Matthews International company since 2003, Repro Busek's role within the Group is to serve not only local markets, but also customers in central and southeast Europe.
In 2005, Repro Busek moved into new premises and invested in new technology for manufacturing continuous flexo sleeves. The company's original client base mainly comprised printers, but today brand owners account for around half its total business. Repro Busek has also extended its service portfolio to include consulting, design development, and printing supervision.
Solutions for international brands
Broadening the range of services for brand owners is a collective aim throughout the Matthews Group, and Repro Busek plays a key role in this strategy, "We guarantee uniform branding, regardless of the printing process and substrate," said Gyula Marlok, Managing Director. "The solutions we provide in this market are intended to help standardize the quality of even the most diverse products for brands worldwide."
Repro Busek uses customer-specific online portals to integrate brand owners and their stakeholders in the workflow. This ensures data can be freely exchanged and reviewed, enables a job's status to be tracked at any time, and ultimately creates shorter decision-making and production processes.
According to Marlok, the FLEXCEL NX System has become a cornerstone of the company's success, helping to improve its relationships with existing customers and win new business. The FLEXCEL NX System was beta tested at Reproservice Eurodigital in Munich-another Matthews Group company-which eased Repro Busek's path into the new platemaking technology.
Quality surge 'like winning a Gold medal'
Repro Busek began preparations for the Kodak technology six months ahead of the installation in Vienna. "We started to align our workflow to the new imaging technology in early 2011," said Marlok. "Previously the data was sent to Munich to make the plates, which were subsequently delivered direct to the customer."
Deim is thrilled with the impact of the FLEXCEL NX System. "The reaction from customers has been overwhelming. Without exception, every printer I've spoken to has had a huge smile on his face, as if he'd just won an Olympic gold medal and broken the world record for quality. In the past, print shops had to fork out a lot of money to see a significant increase in quality. Customers are delighted with the plates we produce with the FLEXCEL NX System. Even with low-priced substrates, the potential to improve quality is remarkable," said Deim.
Reduced dot gain
The imaging system was delivered to Repro Busek in June 2011, and the first orders were completed on it in just three days. Thanks to the seasoned workflow, the prepress experts were able to send the data to the FLEXCEL NX System in Vienna simply by flipping a switch.
The platemaking process starts with thermal ablative imaging of the FLEXCEL NX Thermal Imaging Layer in the FLEXCEL NX Mid Imager.
The KODAK FLEXCEL NX Imagers use SQUARESPOT Imaging Technology at an effective resolution of 10,000 dpi to enable printing dots as small as 10 microns, allowing subtle highlight detail, vignettes that fade to zero and use of all available grey levels-and because of the one-to-one image reproduction and the flat-top dots, none of that detail is lost from the beginning to the end of a print run.
Repro Busek opted for a FLEXCEL NX Mid Imager, which images a maximum plate size of 1143mm x 838mm in about six minutes-far faster any other imaging system installed on the premises. The company has been very impressed with the Thermal Imaging Layer's operating and handling simplicity. If a customer specifies larger formats up to 106mm x 1524mm, Repro Busek's printers can call on their Munich colleagues, who have a FLEXCEL NX Wide Imager at their disposal.
The Imaging Layer is laminated onto the FLEXCEL NX Plate in the FLEXCEL NX Laminator in a purely mechanical process, without having to apply heat. Exposure of the surface to air is prevented by the laminated Thermal Imaging Layer, so that oxygen inhibition and the undesirable side-effects on the photopolymer plate are eliminated. The UVA pre and main exposure subsequently take place in normal imagers. After removing the Thermal Imaging Layer at high speed, the plate is washed and processed further in the usual way.
Fewer inks, lower costs
The plates made on the FLEXCEL NX System offer a raft of advantages on the flexo press. Engelbert Hundsberger, Managing Director of packaging printer Flexopack-Verpackungen GmbH in Allhaming, Austria, confirms the improved ink transfer and expanded gamut facilitated by the FLEXCEL NX Plates. What's more, printing subjects in 150lpi or even 200lpi is no longer a problem, taking flexo another big step closer to gravure quality.
Hundsberger believes the ability to reduce the number of inks in combination with FLEXCEL NX Plates is another significant benefit. The result is lower platemaking expenditure, and shorter makeready times on the flexo press. Hundsberger has been so impressed that he insists all new Flexopack plates are produced using the FLEXCEL NX System.
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