Flexo Platemaking Simplified: Esko introduces next-generation flexo platemaking

Ghent (Belgium), April 6, 2016 – Esko is bringing flexo platemaking to new levels of consistency and dramatically simplifies the platemaking operation.


  • New CDI Crystal 5080 XPS integrates and automates flexo plate imaging and exposure;
  • New UV LED exposure device increases consistency to the existing Esko quality standard;
  • New CDI Crystal 5080 provides integration with automatic plate exposure of the XPS Crystal 5080;
  • Complete integration of flexo platemaking and workflow software with the new Automation Engine Device Manager gives better control over the flexo plate making process.

Esko’s Vice President Hardware, Thomas Klein, explains, “Flexo average run-lengths are getting shorter, and the industry needs ways to produce smaller jobs lengths effectively, with less lead time and improved on-time delivery of required flexo plates. A considerable part of the solution consists of rethinking the flexo platemaking process, a complex and manual process often involving up to seven different hardware devices. Operators run the risk of damaging the plate when moving from one processing step to the next, and by entering platemaking parameters manually. Integration of process steps and automation improves consistency and ease of use, and will enable our customers to more efficiently manage the flexo platemaking workflow.”

Flexo plate imaging and exposure combined

At drupa, Esko will introduce a new flexo plate UV LED exposure device. This device combines UV main and back exposure in a single operation: the XPS Crystal 5080. A new digital flexo plate imager, based on the current industry leading CDI technology, will also be introduced: the CDI Crystal 5080. Both devices can be connected as one single device, the CDI Crystal 5080 XPS, thus combining plate imaging and exposing into a single operation. This solution cuts the number of manual handling steps by 50% compared to other technologies and reduces the time needed to produce a press-ready plate by almost 70%.

Consistent high plate quality with the XPS Crystal 5080

Esko has been pioneering flexo quality for years. The industry readily acknowledges that HD Flexo and Full HD Flexo are the high quality standards and benchmarks for today’s flexo operations. The XPS Crystal 5080 further contributes to the HD Flexo and Full HD Flexo quality by offering great plate consistency. Plate consistency is one of the key drivers to achieve and maintain optimal print quality. UV frames using lightbulbs cannot deliver the necessary control needed for the best result. “Research now has shown that a simultaneous and optimally controlled UV main and UV back exposure by using UV LEDs produces highest consistent digital flexo plates. This was exactly one of the key objectives in the development of this device,” states Thomas Klein, “It enables exceptional control to deliver consistent flexo plates, every time, time after time.”

Enabling automated plate production with CDI Crystal 5080

To enable a full integration and automation of plate imaging and UV exposure, Esko has developed a new CDI family member: the CDI Crystal 5080. It uses the tested and proven imaging technology that is the hallmark of Esko solutions, CDI LAMS ablation laser and high resolution optics. The new CDI contains a glass plate table. This is used to transfer flexo plates onto the imaging drum and to transport the plate after imaging to the XPS device.

The new CDI and XPS devices are simple to use and require less operator training and service intervention.


The CDI Crystal 5080, the XPS 5080 standalone exposure device and the CDI Crystal 5080 XPS combined imaging and exposure device will be commercially available at drupa. The 4835 and 4260 sizes of the CDI and XPS Crystal technology will be commercially available from Q4 2016 onwards. The XPS Crystal 5080 will also be available as a companion product to the currently installed CDI base.

Controlled platemaking operation

Current market demands driven by shorter print run lengths require flexo plates to be ready fast, within a reliable delivery time, so that operations do not experience press downtime waiting for plates. By moving operational control upstream in the production workflow to the prepress department, Esko tears down silos and better integrates flexo platemaking with the prepress workflow.

Automation Engine Device Manager, a new module of the Esko Software Platform, monitors job status, and controls and drives flexo plate making operations. The work in progress, the status and queues of all connected devices are clearly visualized on screen. Now the prepress department has all of the necessary information to prioritize and manipulate platemaking queues to produce the right plate at the right time. These innovations arm companies against unnecessary press stand-stills and it becomes easier meeting challenging customer lead times.

True simplification for greater plate making productivity

Klein continues, “Using Automation Engine means that files are pre-checked for errors and entered into the plate production schedule with minimal operator intervention, resulting in maximum production uptime. Rush jobs can be slotted in as necessary, additional separations can be added onto plates and plate waste is minimized. As the result, our solutions drive flexo press uptime at converters and thus support the entire flexo industry.

Esko once more demonstrates how it continues to pioneer flexo platemaking. We remain loyal to our customers and protect their investment. Twenty-five years after the first CDI came to market, we have now capitalized on this experience by bringing major innovation and flexo platemaking simplification to drupa 2016.”

Esko Crystal technology will also be featuring at partner stands such as DuPont (Hall 8b, Stand C21).