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FLEXO Magazine : Sustainable Fall 2009
ITR achieves sustainable status through the reduction of setup material, stickyback and the elimination of mounting la- bor. Reduction in setup time and material is due to improved registration created by the elimination of mounting tolerance issues. Reduction in photopolymer and stickyback are due to increased plate life over flat plates and the elimination of the reapplication of stickyback on reruns. In addition, certain ITR technologies allow for the reuse of the base sleeve for ITR or flat plate mounting, thus reducing sleeve inventories. Improvements in press speeds can also be achieved due to its seamless design. New presses can now be purchased with ITR upgrades that allow for speeds reaching 3,000fpm. CSAS technology is rather new compared to ITR, but has a globally-proven track record. Launching in sleeve-form in Europe in the late 1990s, compressible self-adhesive sleeves have become widely accepted. Some of the largest flexo converters in Europe have thousands of these sleeves. These global players and others have contributed to that continent's commitment to the technology, which will reach nearly 100,000 sleeves by the end of this year. This reusable sleeve replaces the need for stickyback in most situations and has an effective life of four to five years. This allows for reduction or elimination of one of the largest raw materials in a flexo facility as well as the elimination of non-biodegradable contributions to landfill. The elimination of the use of stickyback also contributes to a reduction of mounting time. Reductions in mounting time of upwards of 50 percent have been achieved. These sleeves are also produced to tighter tolerances than traditional stickyback mounted sleeves. Through a combina- tion of precise grinding and laser measurement, these CSAS significantly reduce the tolerance variation inherent in the traditional base sleeve and stickyback combination. This allows for improved registration and improved consistency throughout the press run while reducing setup time and material. In addition, this type of sleeve reduces the need for over-impression on press, contributing to longer plate life due to decreased wear and cleaning. Automated plate cleaning devices have been on the market for a number of years to varying degrees of success. Improve- ments in technology have made these more practical and affordable. Since there is no true recycling of photopolymer plates, the sustainable solution is to make them last longer and use less cleaning solution. Automated plate cleaning does just that. The consistency and gentleness of modern plate cleaners allows for significant increases in plate reuse and the reduction of labor. In addition, certain devices allow for dramatic reductions in solvent and water use in the plate cleaning process. PROCESS SUSTAINABILITY FOR PROFITABILITY The Wal-Mart Supplier Sustainability Assessment states: "We have learned that being a profitable business goes hand-in-hand with being a good steward of the raw materials that make up products. Accordingly, we are committed to working in our operations and with you, our supplier, to maximize efficient use of all materials, close material loops and minimize waste." Each one of these technologies mentioned above, whether employed individually or in combination, renders sustainable results that fall into the strategies set by Wal-Mart. The critical question then becomes what is the impact on my profitabil- ity?" Obviously, result will vary by facility and commitment to the technologies, but, implementation of these technologies has gleaned, in some cases: 50 percent reduction in press setup time and material 10 percent increased press throughput 90 percent reduction in stickyback purchases 50 percent increase in plate reuse Four-fold increase in plate utilization These numbers can achieve quite short ROI models, and therefore, allows the converter to profit from sustainable initia- tives and become more competitive in the market. • Reduces setup time and material • Eliminates or reduces stickyback use • Reduces plate mounting time and labor • Extends photopolymer plate life • Increases press speed CSAS SUSTAINABLE CONTRIBUTIONS 12 Sustainable FLEXO FALL 2009 www.flexomag.com