Tokyo, Japan, & Brussels, Belgium – Asahi Photoproducts, a pioneer in flexographic photopolymer plate development, today reported that it has carried out a practical OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) study with the Italian press manufacturer Uteco in Verona. Over the past 20 years, Asahi and Uteco have teamed on various projects to study how to make print production more efficient through a combination of the press, printing plates and other materials.
“Our studies show that printing plates make a significant contribution to overall performance in flexographic printing,” says Andrea Belloli, Italian Branch manager for Asahi Photoproducts, “and many of the studies we have conducted with Uteco over the years are designed to both guide our development efforts and prove the results as we bring new products to market. Uteco Group CEO Aldo Peretti adds, “Quality and performance are key customer requirements. These ongoing tests with Asahi are part of our ‘pit-stop project’ designed to find ways to speed up job changeover times on CI flexo presses. This latest study certainly proves that choosing the right plates can make a huge difference.”
During the study, two one-colour print runs of approximately 38,000 meters each were undertaken in Uteco’s Printing Technology Center, the Converdrome, in Verona. One run used standard solvent-washable plates; the other used Asahi’s AWP water-washable plates with Pinning Technology for Clean Transfer. All other characteristics of the run were the same, including substrate and inks, and used the latest Uteco CI model press, the Onyx XS, running at a 300 meter per minute press speed.
- For the conventional plate, the run length was 37,368 linear meters. It took a total running time of 173 minutes. Total press down time was 47 minutes for plate cleaning. Waste produced was 1,025 metres. OEE efficiency was calculated to be 72%.
- For the Asahi plates, the run length was 38,000 linear meters. It took a total running time of 140 minutes. Total press down time was 8 minutes for plate cleaning. Waste produced was 450 metres OEE efficiency was calculated to be 91%.
“We were very pleased with these results,” Belloli states. “It translates to a 26% OEE improvement with Asahi AWP plates as compared conventional solvent plates and produced 575 linear meters less waste material while at the same time delivering higher overall quality. In a busy flexographic shop, this would translate to the ability to process two more jobs with similar length through the press by using AWP plates, a significant increase in throughput.”
As a result of these tests, Asahi was awarded the prestigious European Flexographic Industry Association (EFIA) Gold Award for Sustainable Manufacturing and Product Innovation.
Giuseppe Tripaldi, who has been Printing Technology Manager at Uteco for more than a decade, explains, “Announcements from equipment and material suppliers and the actual results that can be achieved on press in a flexographic operation are not always the same. We believe, however, that this test was conducted under conditions that mirror those that could be expected in a flexo print operation, and we are confident that operators in the field will be able to achieve similar results.”
“We are grateful to Uteco and its CEO Aldo Peretti for their generosity in making these tests possible over the years,” says David Galton, Sales Director for Asahi Photoproducts. “Their staff and facility are outstanding, and they have been unstinting in their support of these efforts.”
Asahi AWP™: The Details
Asahi’s water-washable AWP™ plates feature Pinning Technology for Clean Transfer, which enables clean ink transfer and prevents ink accumulating on the plate surfaces and shoulders in screen areas. This leads to fewer cleaning intervals and reduced press downtime, as well as significant quality improvements.
Pinning Technology for Clean Transfer allows a kiss-touch printing pressure setting. It makes use of low plate surface tension, made possible by a specially engineered Asahi polymer chemistry, to inhibit liquid flow. The ink forms a globule, with a large contact angle and high pinning point. These results in a cleaner and more homogeneous ink transfer from plate to substrate, helping flexographic printers meet the ever increasing quality demands of their customers.