Cliart experiences the future of flexo plate production with new ThermoFlexX imager

São Paulo-based Cliart was founded in 1985 by Ezequiel Fernandez after working in the graphics industry since the mid-1970s. Always a pioneer, he wanted to use his experience of the flexographic sector to introduce technology innovation and change how repro houses conducted business.

‘At that time, it was common for repro houses to remain passive and simply wait for the customers to come to them. No-one went out to look for new business, so I decided to reverse that situation and take a more proactive and professional approach,’ said Mr Ezequiel Fernandez. With this customer-oriented strategy, which later became the norm in the industry, he established Cliart.

Having initially focused on offering layout creation, films for platemaking, plus zinc and rubber plates, the company brought in new equipment to expand its prepress services into photopolymer plates in the early 1990s. Since then, Cliart has remained at the forefront of the flexo market with investments that have included nyloflex® NExT LED exposure technology. Just recently, the company chose to invest in a ThermoFlexX imager with Woodpecker surface.

‘We have built a great partnership with XSYS over the years, in particular with Davi Cardoso, the business manager here in Brazil,’ said Mr Ezequiel Fernandez, ‘so we trust their technology. However, before making our final choice, we still carried out numerous tests to make sure the ThermoFlexX and Woodpecker solutions delivered on their promise.’

Delivering new levels of quality

Cliart’s goal for this latest investment was to provide increased print quality and faster delivery times to customers, who produce flexible packaging for the food, pharmaceutical, general and personal hygiene, animal feed and other sectors. They were also keen to find ways to reduce production costs and optimise plate material use to stay competitive.

‘We had a lot of success with the nyloflex® NExT equipment, and it was naturally our expectation that the ThermoFlexX technology would be impressive,” said Mr Ezequiel Fernandez. “We could see that it would be a big step up in our production in terms of higher quality and a more efficient workflow.’

He added, ‘After numerous jobs and tests, we have observed a real improvement in print quality in terms of ink laydown, both in halftone and solid areas, for all our clients. The most significant result was a 22% gain in coverage compared to our other imaging equipment,’ stated Mr Ezequiel Fernandez.

With its 5080 dpi resolution, the ThermoFlexX 60 imager chosen is pushing quality to new levels, helping to meet the exacting demands from brand owners. Designed for the flexible packaging market, it can process large plates up to 1067 x 1524 mm (42 x 60”) making it the perfect fit for Cliart, as its customers can be found mainly in the mid and wide web market.

‘With resolution capability of 5080 dpi and Woodpecker screens, we are achieving higher definition and a dot structure with more defined highlights. This is providing superior quality in the highlight areas and gradients,’ said Mr Ezequiel Fernandez.

The Brazilian company was also attracted to the TFxX 60 due to its advanced automation features that can make an output of 12 sqm/hr a reality. By minimising operator touchpoints, accidental plate damage can be avoided. Plates are automatically loaded from the Flextray mobile table, which can be used to transport the plate from storage to back exposure and then to the imager. Here, the automatic guidance system ensures the plate is seamlessly mounted on the drum at the touch of a button. The plate sensor then checks the size and thickness of the plate, while automatic calibration ensures optimum imaging quality. Once finished, the imaged plate is delivered back to the table.

The company can also take advantage of the unique Vacuum Slider Concept (VSC), which allows smaller plates to be imaged without the operator having to tape them together or position them in certain zones. The Multiplate interface can arrange individual images of various resolutions on the same plate automatically, and thereby save considerable time, avoid manual errors and reduce plate waste.

Increasing performance and quality

Since the installation, Cliart has found that plates imaged with ThermoFlexX screening technology deliver superb highlights with a smooth transition to 0%, while solids and line-work display excellent detail. By specifying Woodpecker technology, special micro surface screens can be imaged onto the plate surface to boost solid ink density where it is needed and facilitate the production of combination plates with solids and halftones.

The company has seen a significant increase in performance with the ability to customise surface screening according to each client’s application and use hybrid half-tone patterns for smoother and more controlled transitions. The range of surface screens available also means that less printing pressure is needed on press, helping to increase the life cycle of plates and reduce machine downtime.

‘With the much better and more consistent ink laydown, you can generate solid areas with greater coverage without the need to overload the ink on the plate. This keeps the plates clean for longer even at higher press speeds and also saves on the ink consumption,’ added Mr Fernandez.

These savings achieved in time, energy and plate material with the ThermoFlexX imager and Woodpecker technology are supporting Cliart’s sustainability goals. ‘We take our environmental responsibility very seriously, and it is important that we can demonstrate to our customers that the technology we invest in is the best-in-class, not just for quality and costs, but also less wasteful in production,’ said Mr Fernandez.

Summing up the experience so far, he said, ‘The combination of ThermoFlexX and Woodpecker technologies has had a great impact on our flexo plate production, and the quality is second to none. After just a few months, our customers are already enjoying the benefits of the new exceptional quality that we now offer.’

He concluded, ‘Despite the difficult economic environment, the flexographic segment is continuing to grow each year. Meanwhile customer preferences are changing more rapidly. Our investment program has been designed to stay ahead of the market and anticipate new demands. Our partnership with XSYS is certainly underpinning this strategy.’