Making thermal plates has long been a process that merged technologies and consumables from multiple suppliers. And because all the parts generally adhered to a relatively narrow set of characteristics and rules of materials science, plate processing systems usually turned out plates that did the job on press. Except for the ones that didn’t expose correctly or wash quite the right way and had to be re-imaged. Such lapses in production perfection were just factored into the time each job required and it was business as usual.
But suppose all the disparate elements of thermal plate production came from one supplier and were designed to work together? That’s the question engineers at Flint Group asked each other as they listened to the needs of customers. The result is the new nyloflex® Xpress Thermal Processing System that is designed from the shop floor up as a holistic system that leverages the interaction of the processor, the plates, and developer.
Launched at Labelexpo in Chicago in September 2016, the new system gives converters complete control over platemaking, raises the bar on the thermal plate quality, simplifies the process, and reduces operating cost and maintenance requirements.
The small footprint processor is designed to accommodate plates ranging from 10 x 10-inches to 42 x 60-inches and handles material from 1.14 mm to 2.84mm thick. And, those sizes are field-upgradeable when needed, so a shop doing small plates today can move up to larger plates when business demands it. “Just change the developer roll width and you can process larger plates,” explains Peter Fronczkiewicz, North American Product Manager for the new system.
Further simplifying varying plate sizes, zoned pre-heating of exposed areas optimizes energy use. The system uses short-wave IR to precisely control heat distribution that only turns on for the size of the plate being made. This heat control reduces energy use and also means that neither a chiller nor a condenser is needed, further lowering power requirements and simplifying the system.
The processor also features an on-board computer with software that provides operators with all the information need to run the system, including diagnostics, operational and maintenance processes, and developer roll usage.
Engineered by Flint Group, nyloflex XPH and XPM plates increase the level of detail that can be placed on film and on both smooth and rough paper surfaces while delivering greater solid ink density and fewer pinholes. “These plate materials can provide linescreens of 200 to 400 lpi and print with up to 50% less dot gain in highlight areas,” notes Fronczkiewicz. And coming soon is the XHF plate, specifically designed for film substrates with minimal dot gain in highlight areas and providing a stable flat-top dot structure.
Once the plates are made, Flint Group’s waste recovery program simplifies removal of used developer rolls, raw or finished plates, cover sheets, and separators. A call to an 800-number is all that’s required to arrange pickup and disposal.
Watch the following video to learn in details how Flint Group’s new nyloflex Thermal Plate Processing System can deliver measurable value to your operation.