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Print Solutions
Rotolabel moves forward with flexo
Wednesday, 11th December 2013

There has been plenty of activity at award-winning Cape Town label converter, Rotolabel, since its much-publicised purchase of Flexo Process in Durban and CCL Labels Cape in Stellenbosch.

Both transactions form part of a master plan to gradually steer the business from letterpress to hi-tech flexographic printing and, as part of the purchase agreements, Rotolabel has now taken charge of a top-class two-year-old MPS EF press and three Nilpeter flexographic presses.

To get the most out of its new flexographic set-up, the company has also upgraded its platemaking department, investing in a Screen PlateRite FX 1200 CtP system, plus Nyloflex washout and exposure units, all supplied by Kemtek Print Solutions.

‘To make the transition truly successful we had to get the front-end right first,’ remarks operations director, Mike Bremer. ‘Extensive research was conducted on various CtP systems, assessing their capabilities and overall service package. In the end, we bought the Screen and Nyloflex units because they meet our production criteria and we know Kemtek provides the necessary technical support and expertise to sustain a first-class printing operation.’

Top prepress tools
The Nyloflex Combi F II is a compact all-in-one system that includes an exposure unit for back, main and post exposure, batch-washer, dryer and light finisher. It’s perfect for narrow and midweb applications and is equipped with an integrated solvent temperature control unit, four drying drawers each with an individual timer, and an efficient exhaust system. 
It provides 20 memory programmes for exposure and light finisher each, as well as automatic solvent replenishment. 
The PlateRite FX1200’s thermal imaging technology enables outputs up to 4 800dpi for high-quality label production, allowing Rotolabel to offer outstanding print quality with superior tonal reproduction – from highlights to shadows.

The high output and screen rulings of up to 200 lpi is achieved via an imaging head and associated optics, using 64 high-power, long-life laser diodes, with a backup mode for continued production in the event of laser failure. Screen’s FlexoDot screening technology offers a choice of minimum halftone dot size and shapes, enabling better tonal control and crisper imaging in printed highlights.

It’s also highly productive, turning out 4m2/hour for flexo plates and up to 6m2/hour for letterpress plates.

Impressive print results
The flexographic ‘transformation’ may still be in its infancy but Mike is already reporting a positive increase in production efficiencies and print quality. 

‘During the last few months we’ve had to incorporate systems and staff from three very different companies. Despite these challenges, we’ve made considerable progress in getting our flexographic printing successfully off the ground,’ Mike explains. ‘Firstly, Kemtek completed the press fingerprinting with the utmost precision and speed and, thanks to their expert training, our prepress team quickly mastered the Screen and Nyloflex equipment. They’re excited about the quality plates they’re now producing and the positive impact this is having in the printing department where our press operators are reaching label standards quickly and efficiently, saving time and reducing set-up waste.’

Ever mindful that brand integrity is upheld by a consistent label standard, Mike and the Rotolabel team are taking a conservative approach to change with regular label jobs. ‘There are various factors to consider before shifting specific jobs from letterpress to flexographic production and keeping customers informed of the changes and how it affects the end result has been an extremely important part of the process. Colour matching on existing ranges is critical and we’ve been mindful of the fact that some brands cannot be changed until existing stock is exhausted or ranges are being updated,’ comments Mike.

‘Those customers who have made the transition have already noticed a positive difference. What’s more, our new flexographic technologies are allowing us the flexibility to utilise various labelstock materials, such as thinner papers and films, creating new prospects in both self-adhesive and wraparound label applications.’ 

As Mike advises, virtually all orders previously handled by CCL are now being successfully flexo-printed and there’s plenty of capacity for Rotolabel to deliver flexo-printed stock to its current customer base plus partner enterprises such as Lithotech Labels in Johannesburg, should the need arise. 

‘Overall, our latest prepress and printing investments are adding tremendous value to our existing letterpress and digital printing business, allowing us to provide brand owners with technically-advanced, high-quality label products,’ he sums up.

Rotolabelís PlateRite FX1200 platesetter enables outputs up to 4 800dpi for high-quality label production.
The Nyloflex washout and exposure unit is equipped with an integrated solvent temperature control unit, four drying drawers and an efficient exhaust system.


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