WHEN Raised Image was established in Cape Town two decades ago, it was undoubtedly seen as a pioneering force in the field of platemaking for the burgeoning flexographic printing industry, which was beginning to emerge as a serious contender as a printing process for top-end flexible packaging.

At that time, for instance, Raised Image was the first South African company to invest in a Barco CDI (Cyrel Digital Imager) computer-to-plate system, placing the company among front-runners in the transition to digital imaging for flexo printing. (For the record, Barco Graphics eventually got swallowed by Esko Graphics!)

And now the team – headed by owner, Guy de Cafmeyer, and MD, Lee Collins – is taking the business another step forward with the recent installation of a Cron HDI-1600S imagesetter.

Cron Europe – based in Düsseldorf, Germany – is among recent additions to the expanding line-up of principals locally represented by TAD Printing Products. It offers a portfolio that spans the entire digital prepress spectrum – including UV, thermal and large-format computer-to-plate (CtP) technology.

The model chosen by Raised Image is the Cron HDI-1600S, replacing an Esko Advance platesetter, is designed specifically for wide-web flexible packaging printing, with a maximum plate size of 1 524 x 1 200mm, a minimum of 200 x 200mm, standard resolutions of 4 800 and 5 080dpi, and exposure speeds between 1.1 and 2,4m2/hour.

The choice of a Cron unit was easy, according to Lee Collins. ‘We’ve long been a customer of TAD Printing Products for MacDermid plates, and the team at TAD offers excellent back-up and service,’ he comments.

MacDermid’s LUX In-the-Plate system is game-changing technology that provides all the benefits of LUX Lamination, but with the convenience of flat-top dots. No additional platemaking steps are needed to take advantage of the print quality and consistency provided by LUX flat-top dots.

And now this multiple-award-winning plate technology used by Raised Image is further enhanced by the installation of the Cron machine, producing truly stunning wide-web flexible packaging for blue-chip customers such as Tropic Plastic, Amcor, CTP flexibles, Colpak and ITB Manufacturing, to name but a few.

Image accuracy and high-quality dots

Cron’s HDI Flexo products use the company’s latest magnetic linear drive system already renowned in the offset world for its ability to image accurate and high-quality dots from 1 to 99%. This technology now comes to flexo printing and provides faultless imaging ensuring precision printing from all digital photopolymer plates.

As flexo plate exposure is an ablative process, all HDI Flexo units are fitted with a comprehensive dust extraction system.

‘These systems are designed to help flexible packaging printers meet ever growing demands for higher quality, lower costs, faster turnaround times and flexibility,’ explains TAD’s Rob Bywater.

‘Using tried-and-tested technology, HDI units provides fault-free, high-quality flexo imaging at a fraction of the cost of competitive systems,’ Rob asserts. ‘Whether it’s a first venture into flexo CtP or a replacement for existing equipment, these new Cron HDI units will simply make South African printers more profitable!’

Adrian Gildenhuys takes up the topic of cost of ownership. ‘As much as the initial cost of capital investment is important, it’s crucial to consider the total cost of ownership. Here Cron is a clear winner with spare parts costing a fraction of those of competitive systems. But one of the most important factors in making a purchase decision is support and back-up,’ Adrian maintains.

He points out that TAD Printing Products and MacDermid have already demonstrated high levels of technical support and that TAD and Cron have embarked on a similar journey.

‘We employ two fully-trained engineers,’ Adrian continues, ‘and Cron offers a support system second to none. All incidents are logged with the Cron support desk and, in the event of an urgent problem, a Cron technician from Europe will respond within two hours to support the local technician,’ he adds.

‘I believe the high resolutions of 4 000, 4 800 and 5 080dpi, fast imaging speeds and variety of products – HDI 600, HDI 900 and HDI 1600 – combined with ease of operation and low cost of ownership are guaranteed to making Cron’s products increasingly successful in the South African market.’

Exceptional Productivity

Both Guy de Cafmeyer and Lee Collins are quick to agree with these claims. According to Guy, this represents a seriously cost-efficient investment that’s backed by excellent local support. ‘In addition,’ he reports, ‘the warranty on this machine is longer than that offered by other suppliers, and includes a two-year guarantee on the laser head.’

Asked whether the new system is living up to expectations, Lee is equally enthusiastic, particularly remarking on the exceptional productivity achieved. ‘The quality of our plates has been taken to a new level and the production speed is amazing,’ he says.

Also slick and efficient was the entire installation procedure. The machine arrived in Cape Town on September 9, was cleared through Customs in two days, installation commenced on September 13, and the first commercial job was run on September 15. Commissioning of both hardware and software was managed by TAD’s technician Patrick Krieling.

As a final word, Guy de Cafmeyer remarks that the team at Raised Image has always considered technical back-up and service to be as important as buying well-known brands. ‘The team at TAD Printing Products has lived up to our expectations in this respect.’