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Flexo Platemaking

Embrace the Future of Flexo Platemaking with the XPS Crystal: A Sustainable and Efficient UV LED Solution

XPS Crystal Machine

Advancements in technology are paving the way for more sustainable and efficient solutions in flexo platemaking. One significant shift has been a move away from mercury-based UV lamps, and their replacement by UV LED technology. This transition is driving the UV LED technology market to a projected growth of USD 1.27 billion from 2020 to 2024. UV LEDs offer numerous advantages, such as energy efficiency, compact size, increased consistency, and low maintenance cost.

As this shift occurs, suppliers are seeking alternatives to traditional UV lamps. Let’s explore the benefits of UV LED technology for flexo platemaking, including the Esko XPS Crystal—a solution offering optimal UV main and back exposure for highly consistent digital flexo plates.

Moving Away from Mercury-Based UV Lamps

The transition away from mercury-based UV lamps is in alignment with EU Directive 2011/65/EU, also known as the RoHS Directive. This legislative measure restricts the use of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) within the European Union. The RoHS Directive aims to protect health and the environment by limiting the presence of substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and other hazardous materials in electronic products.

With environmental concerns at the forefront of industry considerations, many companies are seeking alternative technologies to the use of mercury-based UV lamps in flexo platemaking. One technology in particular, UV LEDs, has emerged as the leading solution. They eliminate the need for hazardous mercury, making them an eco-friendly and sustainable choice. Additionally, UV LEDs offer energy efficiency and improved performance, resulting in better overall quality flexo plates.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the benefits of UV LED technology.

The Advantages of UV LED Technology

Beyond health and environmental benefits, UV LEDs provide energy efficiency, which translates into cost savings for suppliers. The compact size of UV LED systems also optimizes space usage in the production environment. Moreover, UV LEDs emit consistent radiation, eliminating the warm-up time associated with traditional UV frames using lightbulbs with fluctuating output.

Additionally, according to Flexography, UV LED technology provides consistent and predictable results, leading to better quality printing plates. It also offers advantages such as uniformity, standardization, and automation. As a result, UV LED curing applications are becoming increasingly prevalent.

The Esko XPS Crystal

The XPS Crystal from Esko offers optimal UV main and back exposure, ensures highly consistent digital flexo plates, and provides exceptional results for every plate type throughout the production day. Unlike traditional methods, the XPS Crystal activates the UV LEDs only during each UV exposure pass, eliminating the need for pre-heating time. This innovative system consumes significantly less energy, just 59W in idle mode, compared to the bank light table’s 2kW when idle. The XPS Crystal thus avoids peak energy consumption associated with heating up bulbs during UV exposure.

The XPS Crystal’s efficiency is further enhanced by shorter UV LED exposure times when using plates designed for UV LEDs, resulting in reduced energy consumption. This technology also produces no hazardous waste, making it the highly sustainable and eco-friendly choice for the future.

Esko's Commitment to Sustainability

Esko has received multiple GreenCircle certifications for the XPS Crystal, showcasing its commitment to environmental sustainability. Over a period of months, GreenCircle assessed the XPS Crystal and conducted their own independent testing. During a site visit, GreenCircle calculated energy savings by comparing the power consumption of the unit when exposing flexo plates designed for UV LED exposure, and the power consumption of a UV bank light frame exposing flexo plates designed for UV lamps. The analysis, based on an eight-hour working shift, determined tradeshops benefit from an energy saving of 41%, while converters benefit from savings of 59%.

The XPS Crystal also achieved GreenCircle’s Dematerialization certification, which relates to the absolute or relative reduction in the quantity of materials used, and/or the waste generated in the production of a unit of economic output. GreenCircle validated the technology for a staggering 92% reduction in waste over the lifetime of the machine and 100% removal of hazardous wastes, such as mercury, found in traditional UV lamps.

GreenCircle’s Dematerialization certification demonstrates Esko’s commitment to developing products that consume less material over their lifespan, or that use fewer materials within the product and its packaging.

A More Sustainable Future

As the UV LED technology market continues to grow, the XPS Crystal offers suppliers an innovative, eco-friendly, and efficient solution for digital flexo platemaking. Thanks to its UV main and back exposure methods, the XPS Crystal ensures the creation of highly consistent digital flexo plates while simultaneously reducing waste. By embracing the XPS Crystal, suppliers can enhance their operations, reduce environmental impact, and deliver top-quality flexo plates.

Want to learn more about using the XPS Crystal in your flexo platemaking processes? Download the ebook, 7 Ways to Reduce Your Flexo Platemaking and Printing Consumable Costs.