Suhas Kulkarni: Investors eager due to trade shops

Suhas Kulkarni of Soma says, the rapid strides in CI flexo has boosted the entire sector and plate-making solutions has helped converters leverage its myriad advantages

07 Aug 2023 | By Abhay Avadhani

Optima 2 runs with ECG and at higher screen lines using advanced screenings with speeds above 500-m/min

Abhay Avadhani (AA): How is flexo competing with gravure on things like speed to market, sustainability?
Suhas Kulkanri (SK):
This has been a decade-long question. And the answers are evident in the market. These are meant for short runs, which is a bridge even between digital and gravure. As far as sustainability is concerned, flexo printers have been the front runners in bringing in the PE PE-based laminates.

AA: Converters believe that, finer the line screen, the better the image. In order to achieve high LPI, the press speed can be reduced, and does that not lead to a drop in efficiency?
This is a silly myth that higher LPI means lower speeds. 

AA: Meaning? Please explain.
Today high line presses such as Optima 2 run with ECG and at higher screen lines using advanced screenings with speeds above 500 m/min.

AA: Inventory and cost of gravure cylinders is high as compared to flexo, and the space taken by 10-15 jobs of gravure = space taken by 100 jobs of flexo. What is your take on this?
The image carrying material, which is the photopolymer plate, takes less space and repeated jobs are put on sleeves which can be stored in carousels. So, yes in effect the space requirement for flexo image carrying or holding is lesser than that of gravure.

AA: There are trade shops in every major city who have flexo expertise. To what extent has the trade shop benefitted the CI flexo movement in India?
Tradeshops to the growth of the CI flexo in our country has been a chicken and egg story. However due to recent advances in flexo pre-press which are being embraced by leading trade shops across the geography of India, the need is resolved and the growth for CI flexo is unlimited. All key trade shops in India have multiple locations with multiple technologies.

AA: Is this the norm elsewhere?
This was a facet in Japan a few years ago. Therefore India is leading with bringing in the latest in CI flexo technologies.

AA: How much process control is required to get the expected performance out of the plate even though it's integrated with CI flexo?
With new systems and technologies in place, as long as the trade shop understands the right linearisation curve of the particular CI flexo press, it is a no brainer. The word fingerprinting has been misused with no data being really used for the linearisation curve.

AA: An exception rather than the rule?
Yes, only a handful of the trade shops follow this discipline in action.

AA: How can we resolve this?
By helping build standardisation . Many years ago, Dupont had introduced CyFOS ( Cyrel Flexo Optimization System ) which unfortunately has become just a name without a deeper understanding of what it entails and contributes to standardisation. Only a few trade shops and converters understand the value of fingerprinting.

AA: How can flexo become more popular with the implementation of EPR and single-use plastics ban? Is it going to become a government-favourite over gravure?
Flexography is suited with water-based and solvent-based ink as well. It is the best printing option for paper, especially when it comes to handling certain grades with the right kind of ink and solvent combination. Hence, flexo is the right choice for implementation for EPR.

Suhas Kulkarni: With new systems and technologies in place, as long as the trade shop understands the right linearisation curve of the particular CI flexo press, it is a no brainer

AA: What are the potential areas of automation in the pre-media segment? How can these be linked with flexo for better efficiency?
With the advent of the GPS system - For example, Iris in Soma, the link between the pre-media and the print is much closer. The lack of understanding of plate mounting as a key component is still missing, hence the mounting system is a key bridge between the pre-media and the press.

AA: One mounting system tip which you can share? One thing we must do; and one absolute no-no …
It’s not just important to have a bearer bar, it’s important to use the parameters built in, which include print / impression check , mounting, registration and also overall grey balance. Using targets included in the image and micro dots help a lot to ensure overall registration across the print width, which is crucial for low tolerance designs.

AA: How does screening impact the converters and what is the best technology out there?
Alternate screening is designed to help the converters ease out the key issues in printing designs. Successful ink build up on plate due to mismatch of ink and plate surface is a key topic here. There is also a possibility of higher ink deposits by anilox cells which cannot be handled by the plate screening.

Functions of Soma Optima 2
Soma Optima 2 is a surface or reverse printing flexo printing machine on varied substrates including paper, films and aluminium. The machine performs on flexible or paper packaging, printing and converting including shrink sleeves. It is aimed at the complete range of packaging printing markets.

During job setup, we can automatically tune the press with specially designed algorithms that can minimise the bouncing effect significantly for typical bouncing design jobs. It takes into consideration the dynamic effects of each job — the bridge, the sleeve, the tape and the design itself. This lets each specific piece of artwork achieve its ideal drive setting on the press. It’s quite a revolutionary technology that can bring control of printing press stability to new and exceptional levels of precision.

Based on the design, Soma Optima has an advanced system for upgradation which is a modular design. The Optima concept removes the web path limitations of a traditional CI Flexo press design, because the unwind and rewind systems are located outside of the printing unit modules. This variable design allows the option of choosing any unwind/rewind configuration and inline upstream or downstream printing and converting units.

When we look at the SME sector, the key market segments served are - milk, edible oil and food; bread and confectionery besides snack food . All of which can be converted on the Soma Optima. The customers say that 30% of power is being saved when running Soma against the alternative press they have been using.

Latest Poll

The packaging industry is confused by recycling and sustainability rules in India. What is the biggest challenge?


The packaging industry is confused by recycling and sustainability rules in India. What is the biggest challenge?

Shortcomings in EPR policy



Inadequate infrastructure



Shortage of recycling firms



Lack of consumer awareness



Total Votes : 18


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