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FLEXO Magazine : October 2010
Technologies & Techniques The End is Just the Beginning For large Plates, older equipment is getting new life There are no illusions over the speed at which technol- ogy moves. How many people do you know using a cell phone that’s more than four years old? The likely an- swer is, “Not many.” But what’s true for phones is not true for all technologies. In the flexographic printing industry, retooled and refurbished presses are a small, yet viable, market. A similar phenomenon is being seen in the corrugated arena, with large platemaking devices. A unique alignment of demand and neglect has led to an upsurge in used—very used—machinery. And the results? As good, if not better, than what’s producible on new equipment. A Look BAck Year after year, photopolymer manufacturing systems have reliably delivered thousands of tons of thick and thin flexographic printing plates since the mid 1970s. It started with Dycril, Cyrel, Merigraph and Letter-Flex, Nyloprint, and a few more. It began with thin, hard plates and morphed into thicker, softer plates. Letterpress evolved to flexo and some just dropped out; it was a remarkable time in our graphics experience. Everybody wanted to automate the complex process, and some did. Years later, flexo made it big, and the “Glory Days” began. For most major vendors, these times were the mid 1980s to the late 1990s. We saw automation peak with systems pushing four to five 52in. by 80in. photopolymer plates through—dry to dry— in just hours. It was significant time. There were issues, but overall the semi-automatic and automatic systems delivered tons of high-quality analog plates. The same systems installed in the late 1990s and early 2000s are still running, day-in and day-out, and they are at or approaching EOL (end of life). • A surge in demand for I-plate is giving new life to older platemaking equipment. • End-of-life equipment can present challenges in acquiring replacement parts. • Strategic partnerships with OEMs can help put the burden of maintenance on your suppliers. What’s old is new again. in the corrugated printing industry, there is a growing marketing for technologies that have almost past their prime. 36 FLeXO october 2010 www.flexography.org cOrrugaTed FLX_Oct10_mech.indd 36 10/15/10 12:31 AM
Sustainable Fall 2010