By implementing Esko Full HD Flexo with the ability to create a variety of dots on a plate, Clicherlux, a top tradeshop in Latin America, is developing flexo plates for packaging with increased highlight and shadow details that has extended gamuts, reduced ink units and ink use, offered faster makereadies and, most important, attracted new business to its doors. Its exceptional work has also earned the company Esko HD Flexo certification.
Clicherlux, based in Valinhos, 70 km from São Paulo, with a second facility in Rio Verde, was founded in 1975. It is one of the largest tradeshops, offering the most services in Latin America. With more than 120 employees, it produces plates and cutting dies covering solutions for all facets for packaging, including corrugated, flexible packaging, letterpress and graphics. Clicherlux pioneered the manufacture of cutting dies for rotary cutting and creasing, and now has the latest technology in all markets in which it operates.
Customers are in good hands with Clicherlux, working with the finest technologies in each segment that they operate, with exceptional quality control. And, to meet customer demand, Clicherlux operates 24 hours a day, along with on-call service during holidays for emergencies. With this, Clicherlux customers, the largest and most important in Brazil, are confident in the Clicherlux brand.
Looking for enhanced quality with HD Flexo
"We have always worked with Esko, and owned a CDI Spark 4835 digital flexo imager," says Luciano Trombeta, Gerente Técnico. "However, we had heard that flat top dots offered better imaging, particularly in the shadows. So, we conducted a lot of research into what would be the best way to achieve better solids. We were looking for enhanced quality with better dots, greater density, and improved contrast between highlights and shadows."
After thorough research, Clicherlux decided that it would be best to purchase another Esko CDI - a CDI Spark 4260 - with HD Flexo along with the combination of Inline UV2 and dedicated screening. "The combination, called Esko Full HD Flexo, makes our customers' printing even better," notes Trombeta.
Inline UV2 offers inline digital main exposure in the same device. With smart automation for loading and unloading the plate, the CDI becomes a true "plate factory" with unattended operation and less manual intervention, leading to increased productivity. Esko can control the shape of different microcells in the top of flat top dots on one single plate. In doing so, the combination of smooth highlight printing and gravure-like solid ink laydown can be achieved. The result is a superior flexo plate that is delivering unique print quality in highlights, midtones, shadows and solids of a print job.
Full HD Flexo allows each of Esko's flexographic plate supplier partners to individually characterize parameters to attain the best results on their plates. Full HD Flexo includes plate specific screening to further enhance the solid ink density above today's flat top dot standard. The Full HD Flexo high frequency Microcell screens are adapted to perform at their best for each plate supplier workflow.
It was easy to install the system. At first Clicherlux tested Full HD Flexo to determine how to get the best results on their plates. In only a month, they were using it in production.
Clicherlux has found that the results are excellent. "I like the flexibility of the system. It's easier to combine different screens and dot shapes on the same plate with Full HD Flexo. When we changed the system, we found more detail in the highlights," adds Trombeta. "Meanwhile, on the other side, the shadows are perfect. Because of this, it is expanding our gamut considerably. Our customers are printing a greater range of color. And, we are able to adapt Full HD Flexo plates to different flexo applications, such as flexibles, corrugated and paper."
With the stability of Full HD Flexo flat top dots, Clicherlux's prepress department can control curves and touch up images with Photoshop much more easily. "It's as if flexo printing has turned into offset printing," marvels Trombeta.
HD Flexo saves Clicherlux time and money
Because Clicherlux is able to extend its highlights and shadows, thus controlling its color, it is now able to spend less time working on image treatments. "For example, we had worked on packaging for 44 different flavors of ice cream. Each four flavors required one to two hours of prepress operator work for image treatment and curves," says Trombeta. "The Full HD screening technology took care of transitioning highlights to zero. Along with flat top, Full HD dots, we were able to save more than 16 hours on this project alone."
At times, Clicherlux is also able to reduce the number of ink units on press. "For a bread company, we printed the four flexo CMYK colors rather than going on press with eight gravure colors, as was done in the past," explains Trombeta. "We prepared test plates with color squares assessing three variations of CMYK for each Pantone color. After we printed them, we showed the customer the best matches for each. We converted the Pantone colors to the best CMYK match on the original Illustrator design file. Using those colors, we went to press. The customer was extremely pleased with the results."
Makereadies are easier, as well as the printing itself. On press, the stability of the flat top dot created by Full HD Flexo has allowed Clicherlux customers to work with higher line screens, but with the same anilox settings. Customers are pleased to get more quality and definition on press without having to invest on a new anilox. "It is helping us get better density and highlights faster," explains Trombeta. "We can separate solids from the dots easier. We can get the gamut we used to get with eight colors, but with only four colors--and it looks better than before. It has been amazing. Our customers are printing better with four colors than they did with eight."
Heavy ink coverage is not always helpful in flexo. Depending on the press setup, double prints may occur, wasting a lot of time on makereadies, because the press operators must tune the press and adjust with ink, sticky back, and other settings to avoid this problem. "We are glad to be able to easily work with different ink levels. By using Microcell screening, we can deliver different levels of ink coverage specially suited to the customer's setup. We're able to get 'right on the spot'," adds Trombeta. With Microcell screens, Clicherlux has also been able to improve small text and barcodes on micro-corrugated and folding cartons. Dots no longer 'squash' on press, and dot gain has been drastically reduced.
The black Ink coverage using Full HD Flexo is also an advantage for Clicherlux. "We have many jobs that needed two black plates to achieve a desirable ink laydown. Using the extreme Microcell screening offered by Esko, we can easily get sufficient black coverage with only one plate." In the past, in order to assure good definition in some images, Clicherlux had to add cyan, magenta and yellow together with black. Because Full HD Flexo can produce highlights combined with good shadow contrast, Clicherlux can now achieve the same detail quality by using only black ink, alone.
"When you consider a job with a lot of objects, logos, and gradient elements, it's amazing how flexible the system is. We can select each of those components individually and assign different Microcell screens," explains Trombeta. "We are not limited with only one screen setting throughout the entire plate, where the press operator has to decide to apply high ink coverage on everything, or nothing. We can just select what is best for each area of the job. Using this feature, gradients get specific screening fitted to its application, while logos and solids get specific screening that fits to high ink coverage."
Clicherlux earns HD Flexo certification
Clicherlux's exceptional work on Full HD Flexo has earned it Esko HD Flexo certification. The Esko HD Flexo Certification program is a rigorous certification process requiring vendors to pass a number of strenuous tests. These include consistently producing ten different print samples from five different jobs. An annual renewal of certification ensures print quality is maintained in line with market developments.
Even with letterpress applications, the inline UV in the CDI Spark 4260 imager has been helpful. "The high-intensity UV LED light source has influenced the way we expose our plates. Our highlight dots are built much better. We are able to provide our customers plates that we could not have delivered using regular lamp exposures."
"I can say we have reached the quality of offset printing, with no gain, or bump-up curves. Full HD Flexo is really producing the full tonal range from highlights to shadows. An Esko CDI digital flexo imager along with HD Flexo and Inline UV is the best combination in the market," comments Trombeta. "We're getting the flat top dots we wanted in the shadows, along with great screens in the highlights."
While the new platemaking system is only a few months old, Clicherlux is already finding business advantages to the system. Esko's software combined with imaging technology has opened many doors. "We are already taking work away from our competitors. The market is wide open and there are many opportunities. Full HD Flexo improves solid ink lay down, delivers smooth highlights and offers exceptional contrasts in the shadows. It finally fulfills the needs flexo has not been able to deliver, before," concludes Trombeta.