Esko-Graphics rolls out updated Cyrel Digital Imager (CDI) features at DRUPA 2004
Press release from the issuing company
Gent (Belgium) – 1 March, 2004 - Esko-Graphics, the market leader in packaging pre-production solutions and world leader in digital imaging of flexo plates, announces a number of enhancements to its world-leading Cyrel Digital Imager (CDI) platesetters. Added features include improved optics that make the CDI the fastest flexo plate imager in the industry, semi-automatic plate loading, and updated Grapholas? flexo software to increase the CDI’s productivity and ease of use. Completing the solution for the flexo printer, innovations in pre-production workflow software will also be on display at DRUPA 2004.
Esko-Graphics has clearly sustained the 75% market share the CDI has enjoyed since its introduction in 1995. The CDI family of platesetters, the world’s first digital imagers for flexo plates, is now installed and operating in more than 400 plants worldwide. About 90% of all digital flexo plates globally are imaged on an Esko-Graphics CDI flexo platesetter. In 2003, Esko-Graphics shipped 40% more CDI units than in 2002. The demand for flexo-related packaging is growing due to a significant increase in quality, reliability and consistency – thanks to CDI technology.
Esko-Graphics has doubled the productivity of its CDI Advance with the introduction of Optics 80, an enhanced version of the CDI’s award-winning optical technology, now capable of imaging eight square meters of plate per hour. Optics 80 also offers seamless and variable resolution imaging. By imaging a full format 50”x80” plate in 19 minutes, the CDI now matches the fastest plate processing equipment available in the industry.
“We learned that some of our customers needed to double CDI productivity, especially at sites where there was more than one solvent plate processor,” notes Jan Buchweitz, CDI product manager. “By using the new 42”x60” DuPont Cyrel FAST processor, a printer can prepare a plate for press every 15 minutes. We considered it important to match this processing speed, and did so by enhancing the imaging performance of the CDI, thus eliminating any bottlenecks. And, we are looking further into the future. Plate access time will be critical as we develop more automated digital plate loading systems.”
In addition, Esko-Graphics’ Superskip, a function within the CDI’s Grapholas? control software, increases imaging productivity by ‘skipping’ areas on the plate that do not contain any information to be imaged. Superskip is particularly helpful in the production of sleeves. Along with Optics 80, there is no longer any waiting for the imager in the platemaking department, and a continuous flexo CtP workflow is guaranteed.
New concept for flexo imagers: semi-automatic plate loading
At DRUPA 2004, Esko-Graphics will demonstrate its CDI Advance semi-automatic plate loading system. Announced at Graph Expo 2003, the new CDI Advance semi-automatic is delivered with a semi automatic-plate-loader (Semi-APL): a ‘trolley’ that contains 16 cassettes, each capable of holding similar or different-sized plates up to 50” x 80”. Once plates are loaded into the cassettes, the trolley is rolled into place and docked onto a lift located behind the platesetter. Information provided by the CDI job queue selects the desired cassette holding the next plate to be imaged, and the lift automatically moves the cassette and plate to the EasyClamp drum. From there, the operator can easily slide the plate into place onto the drum. Imaged plates can either be released for immediate processing, or the trolley can be filled with imaged plates and removed for subsequent UV exposure.
The Semi-APL provides greater productivity, because each plate is quickly and easily positioned directly onto the EasyClamp drum. With less strain on the plates, there is less likelihood for damage.
New PlatePatcher option for Grapholas productivity and quality control software
All CDI platesetters are delivered with the outstanding Grapholas front-end software package. Its intuitive, easy-to-use fully graphical interface and screen viewer provide a number of productivity tools. Grapholas? Merger is used to optimize plate usage, provides sleeve support, and assures seamless imaging. Grapholas? Exposer is an operator tool to control the CDI; for example, it can change the order of jobs in the machine queue. Grapholas? ScreenView is a QA-tool used to check dot shapes and overprints, measure screen angles and rulings, determine ink coverage of separations, and provide a monitor soft-proof.
New for Grapholas is the PlatePatcher option, a powerful tool to minimize overall plate consumption in corrugated printing. PlatePatcher automatically divides large format layouts into a number of smallest-size plate patches, adding crossmarks and reference codes for reassembly later. PlatePatcher takes these partial bitmap images and merges them, under full visual control, onto the smallest possible contiguous area on a plate. Some limited extra space is added around the patches, so the resulting digital plate (or film) can be cut into pieces more easily. During this process, PlatePatcher compiles positioning information, and generates positioning marks on the plate. It also creates CAD control files to drive camera-supported mounting systems, such as a DuPont Macroflex post-mounting device, a 1:1 plotter, or even a Kongsberg samplemaking table. PlatePatcher not only economizes plate use; in combination with a Kongsberg table it also prevents the loss of plate material due to cutting errors by the operator.
Grapholas is also available as a stand-alone package, PlatePrep, which supports job preparation and job viewing independently from a CyrelTM Digital Imager. The stand-alone version enables full access to the Grapholas? features at any time, even while the CyrelTM Digital Imager is imaging a plate. Job preparation thus becomes a fully parallel process. A PlatePrep station can drive multiple CDI units.
Software innovations for the flexo printer
Some of the many software innovations Esko-Graphics will demonstrate at DRUPA 2004 have a direct influence on the performance of CDI output. Groovy Screens, a new hybrid screening technology, uses traditional AM screening throughout most of an image, but adds a line pattern (or ‘grooves’) into the dark, shadow areas. The transition between the normal screen pattern and the line pattern is gradual, leading to a smooth gradation in print between the lower density of the non-groovy print (highlights and midtones) and the higher density (shadows) of the groovy print. The major advantage of Groovy Screens is improved solid area rendering: solids have a smoother ink layer. Saturation of colors also improves.
Finally, FlexoPerfection provides a complete bitmap editor for final changes to TIFF-IT and LEN files before they are imaged on a CDI platesetter. Operators can zoom in on a plate bitmap image before it is sent to the platesetter and, as a final quality check, assure that it traps well or that distortions are correct, or determine if there are areas of concern in the highlights or shadow. Bitmapped separations can even be assembled on screen – in color – to ensure they will print well together. If not, a full set of editing tools are provided to correct the bitmap before it is sent to the platesetter.
Unique and comprehensive technology for flexo
The CDI line of platesetters was built from the ground up for flexo, and the new features continue to build on that legacy. “ Esko-Graphics takes considerable pride in the productivity and quality achievements of the CDI. It requires a deep understanding of how our customers use their platesetter, and specific expertise in many technological areas. For example, we understand how difficult it is to transport and load plates onto a platesetter drum, which is why we introduced the semi-automatic CDI Advance,” says Jan Buchweitz, CDI product manager. “CDI platesetters have been built with unique optics to assure constant quality and repeatability. The Optics 80 system was developed to deliver the highest productivity. The CDI has established sleeve capabilities in a number of sites worldwide since 1996, as well as the ability to image other media such as ablative film, letterpress plates, and dry offset plates. And finally, our training and support offer our customers a fast way to produce top quality digital plates, leading to a rapid return on investment.”
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