A portion of the donation was new equipment for the GCM premedia platemaking lab for flexographic platemaking. The Esko CDI Spark flexo has been installed to make plates for flexography, which will help students to learn and practice platemaking processes using the Esko workflow system. Flexography is widely used in the packaging industry and is currently experiencing market growth and quality improvements.
All third year students will produce flexo plates on the new CDI. Files will undergo the workflow and quality management process, and then be individually imaged as flexo plates.
“We have focused on offset and digital printing for many years,” comments Baitz. "We added a flexo press three years ago, but our missing pieces were a packaging workflow and method to create plates. Cooperating companies in the Toronto area were kind enough to make plates for us, but we wanted students to see the workflow and platemaking process for themselves. Now we have access to the tools and students can evaluate their own plates for quality.”
There are also many potential areas of concentration for research. While implementation is too early to definitively determine where study may go, experimentation will include software solutions, flexo plate quality, package design — along with printability of stochastic and other specialty dot shape data.
Ryerson also intends its extracurricular clubs to put the equipment to use. RyePack, the packaging club, is heavily involved with Canadian and international packaging association contests, where the software and the CDI will be of considerable help. The club also looks forward to learn from plant tours of local Esko users. This year’s Phoenix Challenge flexo printing entry (of which Baitz is the advisor) will benefit from the new Esko equipment. In this competition, print quality is of utmost importance. Profiling a press, the platemaking process, trapping, dot structure, gradients, and cutback curves are all important facets that can be controlled by Esko tools. RyeTAGA, an official Student Chapter of TAGA, with over 60 members, will now be able to use their Esko equipment to participate in TAGA events, including for research papers and the production of their annual TAGA student journal.
“Our students are very open to packaging and flexo printing. It speaks to our students. They are touching packaging every day. Packaging involves marketing, branding, and consumer decision-making processes. It is a challenging, evolving technology and the tools they use are on the cutting edge. We are grateful to Esko for its contribution and support, and hope that this program is a positive influence for our students, Esko, and the local industry base in the Toronto areas, as well,” concludes Baitz.