It’s been clear for several years that technical advances in the graphics industry are giving way to materials innovations. And as packaging moves into pole position as the most dynamic of print applications, developments in this field are becoming more than interesting.
The uptake of processless printing plates is finally starting to really gain pace, which is great news for the environment. In the lead is Kodak with over 5,000 sites using its Sonora plate. The company recently got a massive vote of confidence for Sonora X when Online Printers Group based in Fürth Germany committed to the plate on a mammoth scale. The organisation is one of the largest online print providers in the world, producing print for over one million customers in the United States and Europe, both with offset and digital printing presses. Online Printers Group is a sort of collective with facilities in the UK, Denmark, Poland and Spain. Together these various printing plants boast 189 sheetfed offset printing units for four and eight colour printing. The group also has a wide array of digital presses; most of the output is B3 format.
Printing plates are made from the purest of pure aluminium. One of the material’s most beneficial properties for a circular economy is that it is infinitely recyclable, with only a minimum loss of properties. This makes it an enabler for a circular economy, especially in the graphics industry.
Miraclon, home of Kodak Flexcel Solutions, has introduced PureFlexo Printing, a next generation technology for flexographic printing. PureFlexo expands the operating scope for flexo. Print providers and their customers now have much more flexibility in choosing printing methods. PureFlexo printing is designed for printing wide web solvent inks on films and provides unprecedented control over ink spread and dot gain. This means fewer press stops, say for cleaning plates where ink has built up, and a more stable, predictable and consistent process. For brand owners PureFlexo ensures that flexo printing is more reliable and delivers stable quality.
There are many lessons being learned as the pandemic starts to loosen its grip in developed economies. One of the most important when it comes to sustainability in the graphics industry, is the need for more partnerships. Partnerships in this business come in many shapes and sizes. Agfa has a model of selling just the coatings to its plate customers, with Agfa handling the aluminium recycling for them. The World Land Trust works with paper makers to “carbon balance” the carbon impact of their products.