Through an initiative by the YRG Group Ltd printers can output printing plates as they are required from the latest plate processing equipment on their own premises. Whilst ‘satellite’ repro is not new, what the York based pre-press house has come up with has got to be attractive to printers.
Such is the speed of technology change in the printing industry and particularly in the pre-press area, that it is no wonder that more and more printers in the larger format markets are seeking the services of the specialist pre-press house. Because of the volume that these specialists generate they are able to keep up with the latest technology and reinvest when it is necessary. Flexo pre-press is a specialist business, from the dawning of the digitally imaged plate flexo quality had come of age. However it is a process of many variants but when handled in the correct way, provides a print quality comparable with other print processes. Unlike the production of litho plates, a simple operation that today is in the main, produced inhouse, flexo requires a high capital cost and a good understanding of the repro before the files go to the RIP and are turned into photopolymer printing plates.
The service offer
York Reprographic will install into the printer’s premises a new CDI imager supplied by EskoArtwork suitable for the type of plates that need to be imaged and the necessary solvent plate processing equipment. Simpson Label in Dalkeith, Scotland decided on the service and York installed all the necessary plate processing equipment. York’s current preferred supplier of photopolymer is Flint Group flexographic plates. Simpson Label has been trading for 150 years and has had a Dutch parent known as NSD International for the last 30 years, since last month (April) Simpson has been trading as NSD International. The company has locations as well as in Holland in Germany, France, Czech Republic and Romania and continues to move east into India and Hong Kong. York entered into the new partnership with NSD at the beginning of this year. A plate making facility has been installed by YRG that includes brand new Asahi plate making equipment and an EskoArtwork 2530 CDI as well as an Epson proofing system. All artwork and reprographic requirements are managed at the York Reprographic site where finished digital plate separations are sent via FTP (File Transfer Protocol) for imaging on site at NSD covering both flexographic and letterpress print disciplines. A fully specified AppleMac is also installed to handle pre-flighting of new designs in addition to managing finished PDF files for digital printing on the company’s Xeikon presses. ‘The partnership with YRG will help us improve quality and service to our customer base. It allows us access to the market leader in repro in the flexo industry that in turn keeps them at the forefront when it comes to technology within the industry. With the equipment that has been installed, we have the ability to produce top quality digital flexo plates that take our quality to the next level working closely together with the full support of the staffing in York. This partnership has also given us access to digital letterpress plates that allows us to take this printing technology a step further and improve our quality to our customers again,’ comments Neil Briggs, operations manager at NSD in Dalkeith. He continues;
‘We buy the photopolymer plates from York and then pay a management cost for the amount of repro that is required. We provide a 24 hours service to our customers in the label market from Sunday until Friday and the partnership is working well with YRG.’
York also has a facility at Norprint in Boston, Lincolnshire comprising a full repro studio and digital platemaking that has been active for the last five years and where the printing plates are output at the printer, York has seven staff working on the premises. Mark Gration, YRG Group managing director is looking to develop this type of business further. ‘We are looking to provide this service to printers in the wide web sector of flexo and to this end we are in talks with a number of printers. The cost to the printer is proportional to the amount of polymer that is used and of course the repro but it does benefit from the logistics of our being on site, using the latest equipment – overall it is a lower cost solution for the printer.’
Skanem Cardiff is also working with the pre-press house. ‘Since the installation of our Nilpeter F410 combination press and the transition into the flexographic printing process, we have been supported and aided by the YRG Group in this move. They have been responsible for the characterisation of the Nilpeter combination press, creating all the colour profiles and providing real time support both professionally and technically to ease the transfer of designs across into the flexo process and enable what has been a seamless adaptation of a new printing technique. We welcome the opportunity to build real partnerships with our suppliers and look forward to the continued support with both innovation and new technology in the future from the YRG Group,’ said Colin Stafford, managing director at Skanem.
The company locations
Founded in 1974 it has its headquarters and a production site in the centre of the city of York and is one of three production locations. Operations in Manchester started in 1999 and in 2003 it moved to a new complex of some 10000 sq ft at Stockport and at the same time took delivery of the first CDI Advance in the UK from Esko capable of making plates up to a size of 1524x1067mm and is complemented by a Asahi AFP 1216 Flow Line. The third, a green field freehold site of some 10000 sq ft was built in 2000 for production of continuous sleeves in the round. Known as YRG Sleeves, this is an impressive £1.7 million investment. The base sleeves are bought in from Rotec, for which YRG claim to be the biggest user of these sleeves in the UK. The bonding and back exposure of the polymer is completed prior to vulcanising and grinding, to alleviate any butt joins before ring coating of the LAMS layer. The polymer layer is usually 3.4 or 2.3mm in thickness, this operation is completed on site. Explains YRG Sleeves director James Tinker: ‘I am delighted that Flint acquired Rotec, this means that our plate and sleeve supplier is now the same company.’ The Digilas flexo plate imager was supplied by Daetwyler, the interchangeable drum on the YAG imager will accept different image sizes up to 1.85m in length of seamless sleeve. ‘We are now considering a second imager,’ continues James Tinker. He goes on to explain: ‘The company has been providing seamless photopolymer sleeves to the flexo print industry for more than seven years. In addition to the classic sleeve we currently supply, we can now manufacture and supply thin wall sleeves with cushion adaptors. With our extensive knowledge and expertise of sleeve manufacture for the flexographic print process, we can help and advise all our customers to make the most appropriate selection for the best possible results.’
Mark Gration expects the company to enjoy a 40% growth over the next year and at the same time its polymer usage will double mainly through partnerships it expects to secure and through rolling its business out through Ireland and mainland Europe. From this month (May) the company will be a supplier of Stork rotary screen units and at the same time, it is working in co-operation with EskoArtwork using its newly acquired EFI drivers, as a beta site for developing improved software for proofing solutions whereby managing colour and proof to press will remain key.