Demol: “With Aniflo, a label job can break even at 500-600 impressions”

In a tech-talk with Benoit Demol, president, Codimag about the Aniflo technology

29 Nov 2017 | By WhatPackaging? Team

The new Codimag Aniflo Viva 340 is a modular press. Explain the extent of modularity and flexibility?
Among semi-rotary presses, Codimag’s is the only one that combines high-speed, output and easy set-up. The one that you see here is a press with hotfoil stamping, embossing, foiling, with screen and a flexo head. You see a press that can print virtually any label job. And it is so precise, that it can do re-registration. You can do a six-colour job and come back to do another six colours on the pre-printed rolls. Moreover, Codimag technology is an open solution. It can facilitate communication with any software including pre-press workflow, MIS and ERP solutions. The new Codimag press is ready for Industry 4.0 standards.
Explain how the Aniflo inking works.
One rubber roller receives the ink from an anilox with a chambered anilox and a chambered doctor blade. These components enable fast changeovers. When you want to change the ink, you just change the anilox. If you are using something like a hexachrome print (Extended Gamut Printing) you don’t even need to change the inks. An important philosophy of Aniflo technology is ‘Extended Gamut Printing.’ This is the equivalent of digital printing, with a fixed palette of four to seven colours. 
What’s the advantage?
It is commonly accepted that digital is good for runs of, say, 400-500 impressions. The breakeven on flexo is in practice somewhere between 14,000 and 15,000 impressions, primarily because of the plate cost. With Aniflo, you have a machine that starts breaking even at 500 to 600 impressions, a little more than the breakeven point for digital. Moreover, it gives consistency of flexo because of the inking system, resulting in a very high quality print. Levels of 200lpi are the norm and stochastic screen can be achieved at 2400dpi. 
Shorter ink chain has also been featured by Heidelberg’s Anicolor. How different is the temperature control in Codimag? 
If you look at the structure, the conventional flexo press has the ink train, which is huge; plate cylinder; blanket; and the impression cylinder. With Codimag’s Aniflo technology, you have the anilox roller, chamber doctor blade, one rubber roller, plate, and blanket impression roller. Here you have the anilox with precise temperature control to vary the ink density from the roller with blanket and bearer. This also gives the advantage of eliminating the occurrence of ghosting. Furthermore, Anicolor is using wet offset technology, whereas Codimag’s technology, Aniflo, uses waterless offset technology, avoiding the need for ink/water balance settings, thus achieving optimum results directly without any adjustment.
Explain the process of precisely controlling the ink shades and time required for the shift and wastage? 
There are several points of temperature control in an Aniflo unit. In the Anilox, the temperature control offers the opportunity to adjust density by influencing the viscosity of the ink. Additionally a patented IR temperature control on the blanket allows for even transfer of ink. 
Eliminating water from the process leads to rise in temperature due to friction. How is that taken care of?
By using the waterless offset technology with compatible plates, there is no need for ink/water balance settings. Temperature uniformity is maintained in the anilox. Basically, you are controlling the flow of the ink by controlling the temperature in the anilox. At the blanket level, you want the ink to be transferred completely, which is helped by the IR system. Heating the blanket eases the transfer on the substrate. It’s a combination process that is perfected without any consumable requirement or playing around with keys or eliminating the whole process of the ink-water balance. In short, it controls density consistency and does not require – ink-water balance, key adjustment, which eliminates ghosting, toning, and inertia. Plus because it is a semi rotary press, there’s no cooling required. It can be programmed to run any repeat you want at a speed of 60-75 metres per minute.
But the conventional flexo presses run at around 120-150 metres per minute, some even faster?
These are high-end presses sure, but when they are running at the label print plants, I wonder how many of them really run it at that speed when doing high colour jobs, which would generally then be run at 80-90 mtrs per minute. Furthermore, if you add finishing units, the speed has to be reduced (die cut, foil, screen print…). That’s why the speed is not the limit, the key factor to produce more is to reduce set up time, and that’s precisely whats Aniflo offer, with the lowest set up time and waste, a strong flexibility with semi rotary technology.
No ink keys mean you lose control over the ink zones. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
Any printing process demands that you need equal density on all the four corners, along and across the web. That’s what the Aniflo does. There are different views. A label printer may view it as a disadvantage, while some see it as an advantage, because you no longer have the ink keys which the operator will use as per his perception as a result, inconsistency creeps into a job. Aniflo is stable, predictable and repeatable. You print precisely what you want. Aniflo offers repeatability, just like flexo. But with the Aniflo, you are able to vary the density without changing anilox but tweaking the temperature.
How about plate availability?
The main suppliers of waterless offset plates are Toray, and Presstek. In India, Toray is now enhancing the availability of its plates through its partnership with TechNova. Compared to flexo, the plate cost for the Aniflo technology is low, and this contributes to a lower break-even point.  
What’s the makeready time?
Codimag is perhaps the only press maker at the Labelexpo show which will accept a computer file from the customer, and print it in 30 minutes. The plates are imaged, processed, and mounted, and the job is printed at the stand. Incidentally, if you have a prepared plate, it’s a question of mounting and running it. The web path is straight throughout, so there’s less wastage. It’s a servo controlled system, so once the repeat size is specified, the makeready time should be less than 10 minutes.
The dry offset plates have silicone coating, does that affect disposal?
It is as environment-friendly as any process using UV inks. As for the silicon coating, in the whole pressure-sensitive industry, every release liner has a silicone coating, which is million times more than the plate volume.