Patchplanner takes a PDF digital design file and optimizes the layout of the printed areas as individual elements, enabling a much smaller plate to be used than the actual size of the job. The software can then be used to control very accurately automatic cutting of the plate and repositioning of the parts on to a plastic carrier.
Flexo plates are very expensive and anyone operating in a pre-press department will immediately see the attraction of Patchplanner. When producing something like a corrugated box, it is not unusual for only a tiny area to need to be printed even though the box itself may be large. Until now a great deal of manual work has generally been required in order to avoid using large flexo plates.
What Patchplanner does is to separate those printed elements in the design file and relay them so they take up the least amount of space. This data is then used to expose the smallest plate possible using an imager such as a ThermoFlexX. We can then send the information to a cutting table, for example, a Zund machine. Patchplanner software will control the cutting pattern, resulting in fast and accurate cutting.
The plate would then be reassembled on to a plastic carrier ready for the printing press. The high level of automation offered by these systems, combined with their speed and precision, makes this an extremely cost effective method of producing flexo plates for this sort of job.