Creative Labels replaces its flexo imaging system with an Esko CDI 2420 flexo plate imager

Results are better highlights and vignettes, more consistency, and faster makereadies

Miamisburg, OH (USA) January 2017 - Creative Labels has replaced its flexo digital plate imaging system with a CDI Spark 2420 flexo plate imager from Esko, offering much more consistent quality, and exceptional control of highlights and shadows.

As an industry leader in flexographic printing since 1989, Creative Labels, located in Troy, Ohio, offers top of the line customer service with state of the art equipment and processes at competitive pricing. From simple one-color jobs, to the most complex designs, Creative Labels assists customers with any and all of their labeling requirements. Their sales and production team strives to provide each customer with what they would expect from one of the best label manufacturers in the country. The company's 15 employees operate Mark Andy presses ranging from seven-inch eight-color to thirteen-inch ten-color flexo presses. All work with water or UV inks.

"When we first started our business, like many others we operated used equipment. They included Mac systems with Adobe software, using an imagesetter and a film processor. "We started having an issue with our film processor—which was not being sold any more because of the trend to direct-to-plate. We did some research and decided to install a flexo plate imager—although we were hesitant to pull the trigger and buy it outright. While it was not truly a direct system—there were a couple intermediate steps—the samples were promising," remembers Dave Nosker, CEO, Creative Labels. "Unfortunately, the output was not consistent for the quality we needed. We would step labels three across by six, and there was color variation between the images. So, we decided to return the equipment."

Creative Labels CDI Spark 2420 flexo plate imager

That led Creative Labels to reach out to Esko. They visited Esko demo facility in Miamisburg, OH and were impressed with the quality of flexo plate imaging Esko could deliver—deciding to invest in a CDI Spark 2420 flexo plate imager. The CDI Spark 2420 specifically addresses the needs of tag and label printers. It images a full size 24” x 20” plate in 23 minutes.

"We were looking for consistent image-to-image output—a high quality system that would help deliver the quality we needed—particularly when it came to reproducing highlight dots. With Esko, the first thing you think of is quality," comments Nosker. "We also wanted to continue using our existing plate processor. That was no problem because Esko is a supplier that works with almost all plate and equipment suppliers. While their offices are located locally, which makes it convenient for us, we are assured that they provide exceptional service."

"We also decided to invest in specialized transitional screening technology that combines AM screening in the mid-tones and FM screening in the highlights," adds Nosker "Once an image hits a certain value percentage dot, the image is reproduced with stochastic screens rather than traditional dots. It improves the smoothness of our flexo highlights and eliminates any hard edges."

Esko installed the imager and fingerprinted the press. "The process was easy. They also did a great job dialing in our proofing system. While we needed a slight adjustment when it was first installed, they immediately returned and re-profiled the system. Since then the output has been beautiful," says Nosker.

Creative Labels has been using their imager for about two and a half years. "We really like the exceptional quality from CDI plates. It has delivered us a step up in quality. The highlights are much smoother, while the vignettes are much cleaner and more consistent. There are no longer the hard lines that are found when the highlights reach the breaking point to zero," enthuses Nosker. "Our company has a legacy winning many international printing awards. We consider ourselves high quality printers, day in and day out. Many companies have chosen digital to get good four-color process, but we don't have to do that. Our quality will rival any digital printer. If you took at a label sample from a digital printer and put the job on our presses, you would not see a difference."

With the CDI and their new proofer, Creative Labels has saved a lot of prepress process time. "We have a certain group of aniloxes to work with each color," remarks Nosker. "If we use the same inks and aniloxes, we hit the colors, almost immediately, 90-95% of the time. We have been able to save money by reducing makereadies—perhaps 10%. We have also saved quite a few man-hours throughout each day."

"We produce a lot of jobs with flesh tones. Before the CDI, they were kind of spotty and modeled. When you get to the flesh tones, there are many highlight dots. The CDI stepped up our printing quality of flesh tones. We have a client who requires as part of their corporate graphics a rainbow with color shifts from red to yellow to green to blue. Our client said it never printed so well before, with very smooth transitions," says Nosker.

"Our customers are extremely satisfied. We are not a 'me-too' company. We're a value-added resource for our customers. We do not compete with dollars, but with service and quality," concludes Nosker. "If you want to stay ahead of the competition, you have to stay ahead with your technology. Esko has demonstrated that the CDI is definitely the best imager to invest in. As far as we’re concerned, with our Esko system Creative Labels is printing tomorrow’s flexo today!”