Reproflex3 enjoys flexible plate production with imaging technology from XSYS

Established in 1996 in Newcastle Upon Tyne, Reproflex3 provides packaging products and services, including printing plates, reprographics, artwork management, online workflow management and packaging mock-ups. Its customers are flexo printers, creative agencies and major FMCG brand owners in the UK, Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, India and Australasia. The company started working with nyloflex® products when they were manufactured by BASF, then by Flint Group Flexographic, and they have now been working with XSYS for more than two decades.

‘The decision to install the ThermoFlexX TFxX 80-D was taken at a time when we were seeing an increase in demand for premium flexo plates in larger sizes for wide web printing of flexible packaging,’ explains Gavin Lowes, Global Manufacturing Manager at Reproflex3. ‘The trend for faster turnaround was also accelerating, so we were keen to speed up our plate production. We believed that the dual head ThermoFlexX TFxX ­­80-D was the best solution on the market for meeting those needs, and we have not been disappointed.’

Today Reproflex3 also has offices in Dubai, Mumbai and New Zealand. Partnerships have extended the company’s reach, and most recently a deal was signed with ARC International to bring the new VORTEX technology to the US corrugated market.

‘We specialise in providing innovative flexographic pre-press solutions that relate to every touch point in the packaging development journey, from design to final print production,’ says Lowes. ‘To that end, we rely on the most advanced technology in the industry. The ThermoFlexX imager offers us a quicker and more sustainable approach that helped optimise our workflow.’

Greater productivity and less waste

Designed for high volume production, the ThermoFlexX TFxX 80-D imager provides a maximum resolution of 5080 dpi, and at standard resolutions it can output up to 12 square metres of flexo plates each hour thanks to the Dual Head Imaging concept. Accepting plates of 1270 x 2032 mm (50 x 80”), it is an open platform that combines superior quality, handling and productivity. Automatic loading, resolution switching and calibration are just some of the features that make this device extremely easy to use.

‘The ThermoFlexX TFxX 80-D images the maximum plate format available, therefore offering greater production yields and less waste. As we expected, being able to apply different screen resolutions on different areas of the plate has also been a big advantage,’ comments Lowes.

After trialing various plate technologies, Reproflex3 chose the nyloflex® FTH Digital from XSYS as the best option to use with the ThermoFlexX imager. The nyloflex® FTH Digital is a smooth inherent flat top dot plate, which allows the company to apply its own proprietary screening technology to the surface for flexible packaging applications.

‘The nyloflex® FTH plate includes the benefit of flat top dot technology, producing fine highlights for an extended colour gamut, together with excellent ink transfer properties. Compared with similar technologies, it comes with quicker processing times and its blue appearance even fits with our Project Blue brand name,’ says Lowes.

He added that the speed of the imager and the advantages of the nyloflex® FTH have naturally increased productivity in the plate room. ‘Imaging the nyloflex® FTH plate on our ThermoFlexX device allows us to more than double the imaging speed previously used. Without the need for a lamination step, it also offers a quicker and more sustainable approach, as it doesn’t require a one-time use thermal imaging layer that ends up in landfill.’

Supporting new opportunities

‘The ThermoFlexX imager and our partnership with XSYS continue to be a vital part of our growth,’ states Lowes. He explains that Reproflex3 is now moving into the corrugated post-print market, and the team is relying on the flexibility and high-quality output of the imager to deliver plates that will enable customers to seize the moment and benefit from opportunities in that sector.

The largest of the imagers in the product line, the ThermoFlexX TFxX 80-D is ideal for this new venture. Handling the very large plate sizes used in corrugated printing without causing damage can be a challenge. The answer is the adjustable ThermoFlexX Flextray, a mobile table which facilitates the easy transport and handling of plates, while also protecting the operator’s health and safety.

To address this market, Reproflex3 is leveraging the superior imaging quality of the ThermoFlexX to bring to market its new VORTEX solution, which will give printers the tools to produce sharper graphics at higher screen levels with excellent solid ink coverage on corrugated board. The imager’s high productivity will also help answer demands for quicker delivery of plates as the industry moves towards a just-in-time supply model.

‘There is a big opportunity to improve print results in the corrugated post-print market. Brand owners are crying out for faster turnaround, complete colour consistency and lower costs,’ says Lowes. ‘We have used the ThermoFlexX imager as an essential part of our new print solution for that market. With VORTEX, high quality jobs can be moved from pre-print or digital to post-print flexo, which is much more cost efficient.’

Cornerstone for innovation

The robustness, cost-efficiency and longevity of the ThermoFlexX TFxX 80-D has clearly exceeded expectations for Reproflex3. ‘Of course, it is always great to be proven right, and time has certainly confirmed that we made the right decision when we chose the ThermoFlexX imager five years ago,’ says Lowes. ‘The imaging quality and productivity remain second to none, and innovative features, such as Multi Resolution and Multi Plate, save on time and waste, reducing the impact on the environment – something that has become very important. Quite simply, this technology continues to be a cornerstone for much of our own innovation and will be for years to come.’

Asked about the experience with XSYS as a supplier partner, he concludes, ‘The support and training we have received from XSYS over the years have been brilliant. We feel very comfortable with the relationship, and knowing that ‘nothing is too much trouble’ – we really couldn’t ask for anything more.’