The CrystalCleanConnect revolution

The fully automated flexo platemaking solution – CrystalCleanConnect, developed in partnership with Esko and Asahi Photoproducts, is now widely available following a successful first year.

A global developer of integrated software and hardware solutions for the packaging and labels markets, Esko has teamed up with Asahi Photoproducts, a pioneer in flexographic photopolymer plate development. The goal – to design an innovative automated flexo platemaking solution.

CrystalCleanConnect: the product of two technology giants

“We have successfully installed the system at a number of key customers since we premiered this innovative technology at the 2021 virtual.drupa event,” said Pascal Thomas, Director of Flexo Business with Esko . We’re delighted that those customers have already reported huge success, enjoying the benefits and value delivered by the system. CrystalCleanConnect fully automates the entire platemaking process, from imaging and exposure through to plate production, reducing the number of steps in the flexo platemaking process from 12 to just one.”

This equates to an impressive 90% reduction in operator time, or just 2 minutes 30 seconds to make a plate.

Dieter Niederstadt, Technical Marketing Manager for Asahi Photoproducts said: “Flexo needs to simplify processes while improving quality, consistency and profitability. In doing so, flexo can create new business opportunities and positively transform into a printing technology in balance with the environment.”

This groundbreaking innovation is, he says, a holistic approach to connecting technologies, upstream and downstream of the prepress value chain, operated by an intelligent automation hub that is nothing less than the backbone and heart of the solution. CrystalCleanConnect truly pushes the boundaries of the current scope of plate automation, being also the first automated production solution that does not use VOC-based solvents in platemaking.

It thus brings together the two companies’ core hardware and software technologies to provide a highly efficient and durable ready-to-install flexo plate for the packaging industry from design to print. This is a small revolution, offering the benefits of a faster and cleaner operation through a fully automated and connected process, simplified flexo platemaking, and a significant improvement in security and print quality.

A successful first year for CrystalCleanConnect

Nabe Process Co Ltd, a renowned Japanese printing company, has become the first in the world to integrate CrystalCleanConnect into its platemaking operations following its introduction at virtual.drupa2021.

Nabesaka, president and CEO of Nabe Process Co. says that CrystalCleanConnect has greatly improved the quality and overall productivity of the printing plant, enabling faster, more efficient pressing with negligible risk of error. The solution was used to successfully test Asahi’s AWP™ CleanPrint water-washable flexographic plates against conventional plates requiring VOC-based solvents, with such strong results that it was immediately decided to convert all flexographic plates to Asahi water-washable plates on the device.

Another compelling example is Shanghai’s leading label manufacturer, Hengze Printing Company, which reached the same conclusions as its Japanese counterpart – that using the CrystalCleanConnect solution and switching to optimised Asahi AWP™-DEW water washable plates both make a significant contribution to the company’s productivity, efficiency and sustainability, as well as providing a strong edge in the highly competitive Chinese market.

Quality, efficiency, savings

The key strength of CrystalCleanConnect is the simplification of processes, which results in an immediate 90% reduction in operator time, reducing the risk of human error while providing immediate efficiency gains. In addition, with Asahi and Esko technologies working in perfect harmony, this combination of improved efficiency and quality delivers an average 25% increase in press OEE. Significant operational benefits are complemented by a 20% reduction in ink use and an unmatched environmental footprint.

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