Creative Graphics: The flexo revolutionaries

Priya Raju goes behind the scene and understands the flexo upgrade at Creative Graphics and how screening enhancements and dot structures have changed the rules of the game

21 Jan 2013 | By Priya Raju

Established in 2001, Creative Graphics, the Noida-based manufacturer of flexo plates is one of the early movers in pre-press in the corrugation industry.

Deepanshu Goel, proprietor, Creative Graphics, says, “We always look at niche market. The offset market had already matured and we saw potential in the corrugation segment.” He reminisces about the scene eleven years ago when Creative was born, “the flexo technology was evolving and was used for elementary printing. Now that the technology has evolved, one can see the quality parameters have transformed.”
Today, Creative Graphics has team strength of 55 skilled professionals and manufacture sophisticated flexo plates. They have 250 customers of all shades and hues in narrow web labels, lamitubes and corrugated manufacturers etc. 50% of the business is driven by the label segment and 30% targets the corrugation industry. The firm is registering a steady 20% growth, year on year.
The technology journey
The Noida-based company has constantly upgraded its technology. In 2005, they started with an investment in a Flint processing line. In 2008, they invested in a Kodak Thermoflex CTP system. They have incorporated Dupont’s Digiflow system, in which a chamber to the existing exposure unit is added that allows the creation of a controlled atmosphere during the main exposure allowing one-to-one reproduction of image elements on the plate.
This one-to-one reproduction is critical to optimising the effects of solid screening patterns. Digiflow is a powerful tool to improve solid ink densities and print contrast, while maintaining the image quality. More recently, they achieved a major coup by installing the DigiCorr system especially for corrugated boards. This is the first of its kind in India. With this investment, they can produce a plate of the size of 50 x 80 inches.
Dupont’s Gururaj Kirsur says, “The Digicorr workflow helps raise the printing quality level of direct print corrugated and to streamline productivity in terms of turn-around time for converters. It helps to produce hybrid digital dots specially designed to minimise fluting. Plus there are smoother vignettes and improved run length.” When Digicorr is in use, the main UV exposure of printing plates takes place in an inert atmosphere free of oxygen. This helps to produce the unique hybrid digital dots.
With the packaging industry galloping along at a fair clip, one has seen the advent of automated corrugated lines in the past five years. A rough estimate indicates 150 automated units in India. This was an opportunity for Creative Graphics who decided to focus on pre-press for corrugation industry in 2007. Besides making them an early mover in the corrugated industry, today, they are one of the largest pre-press suppliers to the corrugated industry. Goel says, “There is an increasing demand in volumes.” 
Goel goes on to make an interesting analogy, when he explains, “Quality issues are India’s real problems more than anything else. So my analogy is, India is like a boxer with a hand tied behind its back. With strong pre-press in corrugation, the second hand can be unleashed, and then the Indian corrugating box manufacturer can grow.
Fine-tuning flexo
Earlier, Creative Graphics had a tryst with Esko’s CDI 4260. When the customer demanded “solids which were dense and precise quality of the colour”, they invested in Esko’s CDI 4260 a high resolution version to boost the quality of flexo plates. The CDI Spark 4260 addresses the highest quality flexo applications, primarily in the flexible packaging and folding carton market, with inroads into corrugated. 
Earlier the flexo technology was grappling with the basics. Flexography was preferred for printing jobs upto 85lpi. Therefore most brands preferred not to render multicolour printing jobs. Today, the technology has evolved and as Srihari Rao of Esko states, “the quality of a flexo print is comparable to offset”. But the flexo technology is still in transition phase, there are bottlenecks like standard quality of paper and inks. Once the standards are set, the market will move in a big way to flexo. 
Creative Graphics supply flexo plates that are capable to produce multi-colour prints. Goel states,
“Now with a new generation of imaging, it combines smooth highlights and gravure-like solids in a flexo plate.” “We aim to take the flexo printing industry to another new era,” he adds. Ultimately we will go beyond the discussion of flat-top dots or round-top dots, and create the best possible combination of print dot structures with flexo.”
Conquering new frontiers
Today, Creative Graphics supplies plates in the stationery segment and are the approved vendor of ITC. They boast of top notch clients like LG and Samsung and other blue chip firms wherein the quality standards are exacting. Creative Graphics has a research and development unit which helps them in keeping abreast with the industry enhancement.
Goel says, “Creative’s primary goal is customer satisfaction and we endeavour to improvise by continual research and development.” He added, “The demand of quantity of production of labels and packaging has gone up. And he chimes, “When the FDI momentum picks up, it will increase exponentially.”
Pre-press holds the key. For example, with the CDI Spark 4260, Creative can address the requirement of flexo applications, primarily in the narrow web label market, with inroads in corrugated. With its larger size plates and impressive productivity, the device images digital flexo plates up to 42x 60 inches (1067 x 1524 mm). It perfectly fits to a thermal processor like the DuPont Cyrel
Fast 4260 or runs in front of any solvent processing equipment. 
Goel makes an interesting point. “Before setting up a unit in Hyderabad, we gave it a lot of thought. I think there is a perception that the flexo industry and corrugated industry is fragmented; and the lower end of the quality spectrum. But I think this is changing. There is a huge pool of people who wants to invest in flexo. If they see the amount of money pouring in plus a technology support, a part of the overall business will be driven to flexo.”
Keeping in mind the growing demands of market Creative has set up a new unit in Hyderabad. This unit will be operational in January 2013. They are planning to install a CDI machine and operate a pre-press facility in addition to the mother plant in Noida.  According to Goel, “There was no pre-press house in Hyderabad and it is becoming increasingly difficult to meet delivery timelines from Noida. So the new unit will help us serve our customer better and meet the ever-increasing demand.”
The creative team of Creative Graphics

The creative team of Creative Graphics