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Print Solutions
Screen CTP success at SA Litho
Wednesday, 21st August 2013

Cape Town-based SA Litho is an internationally-recognised, award-winning printer of sheetfed and reelfed labels for the wine, beverage, pharmaceutical and FMCG market segments. Established since 1903, it’s considered a ‘Grandame’ of the local printing fraternity, with a reputation for the highest quality printing and finishing capabilities. 
Its evolution and growth has been perpetuated by investment in the very latest advances in printing and finishing technology, which has now been extended with the installation of a Screen PlateRite FX870 thermal CtP system, supplied by Kemtek Print Solutions.

‘We have traditionally sourced our flexographic plates from independent platemakers but a significant increase in plate demand recently prompted us to set-up an in-house CtP process,’ comments MD, Leon Witbooi. ‘We reviewed various platemaking options and finalised the contract with Kemtek to supply us with the Screen PlateRite FX870, based on its overall performance and Kemtek’s exemplary service and support,’ he adds.   

The FX870 is capable of imaging digital flexographic plates up to 870 x 762mm and has been developed to support a wide range of flexographic applications including labels, flexible packaging, corrugated, carton and security printing. It incorporates Screen’s proven thermal laser technology and images Flint digital plates, also supplied by Kemtek Print Solutions. By providing imaging at 4 800 dpi resolution with screen rulings up to 200 lpi, SA Litho’s machine can produce consistently high quality plates.

It’s integrated with SA Litho’s workflow system, which combines PDF creation, job proofing, imposition, and a Raster Image Processor (RIP) into one unified workflow. 

‘Our design and prepress team is fully-versed in our workflow system and Kemtek’s technical specialists, Kevin Naidu and Colin Ritchie, have completed comprehensive operator training on the new Screen model,’ explains Leon. 
Getting the plate right the first time is top priority and the FX870 eliminates many of the problems associated with platemaking, including those arising from dust and UV scattering, as well as film misalignment and registration errors from film stretching. 

Plates exposed on the FX870 have highly visible images that are easy to check with the naked eye, enabling plate inspection even before cleaning. It also offers a superior exposure range relative to the UV exposure time, and creates sharp relief patterns that are ideal for fine line reproduction and cut-out text.

At the maximum exposure size of 850mm x 735mm a flexographic plate takes less than 45 minutes to develop and the elimination of intermediate production steps also reduces time-consuming tasks such as preparing the film, step and repeat operations, and imposition work, which also helps to maintain maximum printing efficiency.

Plate loading is easy, and works for all supported plate sizes, ranging from a minimum of 200mm x 200mm to a maximum of 870mm x 762mm. The operator simply clamps the leading edge of the resin plate and then tapes the trailing edge. It’s perfect for producing A3 and A4 size plates preferred in the label industry, as well as larger A1 plates.

Other features include a multi-channel long-life can-style laser diode that quickly exposes the target areas, as well as high-end Spekta 2 AM/FM screening and Flexo Dot, specifically designed for flexographic printing. 
Spekta 2 is a next-generation form of hybrid AM/FM screening that’s designed to make printing easier. Not only does it solve the problems of moiré and broken lines that sometimes occur when AM screening is used it also increases colour vibrancy, making added-value label printing a reality.

Flexo Dot increases the minimum dot size and applies a reinforcing pattern to the base halftone dot shape. This results in the creation of more consistent relief patterns in the highlight areas. The minimum halftone dot shape can be selected from a line-up of shapes for each screen ruling, depending on the plate thickness, platemaking and printing environments, to ensure optimal highlight printing.

‘Overall, the Screen PlateRite FX870 has given us the flexibility to produce the highest-quality flexographic plates with minimum press downtime,’ continues Leon. ‘By controlling the platemaking process we can finely tune our production schedule and considerably increase output. The FX870 is the machine of choice for us; it’s geared for label production and is exceptionally reliable. Coupled with Kemtek’s unrivalled technical know-how and support I’m confident that we’ve got the perfect process to produce the highest-quality printing plates for our multi-faceted operation.’

Platemaker, Irefaan Phillips, is hugely impressed with the Screen FX870ís output, which has greatly-improved job flow from prepress to the printing stations.


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