Esko has announced that leading prepress provider 360 Imaging Inc., based in Gardner, MA, has installed Esko HD Flexo, the advanced flexo platemaking system. The technology provides the unbeatable combination of smooth highlight printing and solid densities with more greyscales, allowing flexo printers to offer unsurpassed quality.
As its name suggests, 360 Imaging provides in-the-round (ITR) sleeves, along with photopolymer flat plates and a full suite of graphic management services to consumer product companies (CPCs), printers, and flexible packaging converters. The 17-year old company unplugged its film-based imagesetter, following the implementation of an Esko CDI Spark 5080 platemaking system six years ago. Management understood the quality and cost saving benefits of a digital solution, using the CDI for both flat plates and ITR sleeves.
The company’s three-fold ongoing mission drives its pursuit of new technology: helping customers reduce costs by avoiding unnecessary makeready time, reduce reliance on inspections, and consistently meet deadlines.
This customer-oriented focus was also responsible for the move into HD Flexo, featuring exceptional resolution for more greyscales, and dedicated screening, allowing 360 Imaging to deliver the highest quality image possible.
Quality on par with gravure
“We wanted to be able to achieve line screens that were close to what gravure could deliver—175+,” explains Ryan Dufour, General Manager, 360 Imaging Inc. “We also wanted richer, deeper colors, better solids and smaller midtone dots.”
The higher quality result begins with Esko’s microcell screening technology, which controls the dot shape. With HD Flexo, the end result, for 360 Imaging and its customers, are fine highlights, sharp text, transitions to zero, and good density.
“HD Flexo lets us take flexo to a new level of quality for our customers, and achieve the results we want,” says Dufour. Installed in June 2012, Dufour views this as a means to attracting new customers; the company anticipates a 15% growth due to the ability to offer HD Flexo quality.
“We are growing our customer base,” comments Dufour. “With a lot of the work currently available, we are competing against gravure, which had a stranglehold on high quality packaging. Now we have closed that gap. We are able to compete more readily (with our printer customers) with higher lpi, quality, etc. Even the people who purchase print are looking for color that pops, and want lots of detail. With this new technology, these are all things that flexo can now offer, to get to that desired quality.”
Keeping the workflow open
When deciding to move into HD Flexo, both the end print quality and Esko’s open workflow helped propel 360 Imaging to go with the HD Flexo system. “With our existing Esko workflow, we had the opportunity to utilize other plates from other manufacturers,” says Dufour. “We also did not have to laminate or take the additional steps that were necessary with other competitive systems, and it delivers the consistency and predictably we require for our customer base,” says Dufour.
For 360 Imaging, offering a high quality image wasn’t anything new. It had put its CDI Spark to good stead, “successfully offering customers 150 line flexo in the past with great success,” states Dufour. “The reality is that the jobs in the past were positive. The jobs looked great. Now we get better richness in detail. For one customer, we print lots of pet products, and we can see fur and whiskers and details that previously were not as sharp and crisp.”
360 Imaging continues to offer ITR sleeves, which are created for the customers based on the design—“when we need a continuous plate, such as decorative items with a continuous pattern,” says Dufour. “The original request to use ITR came from a gift-wrap customer. Those designs had full coverage backgrounds.”
Adds Dufour, “We will do whatever we need to fit our customers’ requirements.”
At 360 Imaging, HD Flexo was implemented to improve and expand its quality offering to its customers and their print buyers. “HD Flexo has positioned us to offer a complete portfolio of solutions for customers, no matter the business we’re going after, or the business our printer customers are going after,” says Dufour. “Now, we are able to set our customers apart from their competitors.”