How to achieve cost saving in the pre-press department?

“Cost saving in pre-press is not a mere desire, but a necessity, an opportunity.”

While the flexographic industry is looking towards a promising horizon due to the increasing demands, the industry still needs to keep evolving to compete against the emerging threat of digital printing. On one hand, the demand for food, beverages, cosmetics and hygiene products is increasing due to various factors like:

  1. The continuously expanding population;
  2. The increased life expectancy;
  3. Or, the shrinking size of households.

On the other hand, products are becoming more seasonal and variations in terms of flavours are increasing, leading to demand for design variations and smaller portions. This is resulting in shorter job runs. Even with the available advancing technologies, these trends are forcing flexo printers to look for new and alternative solutions to improve their processes further. Every flexo printer is now focused on improving processes, increasing efficiency and cost savings in pre-press. One such way to achieve this is by moving towards Toyobo Cosmolight water washable flexo plates.

Solvent processed plates use up to 6 liters per m² of solvents throughout the processing during which the polymer absorbs some of these solvents and this results in the swelling of the photopolymer. The plates then need to undergo a drying process to reduce the swelling. A water washable plate does not need any solvents and thus the plates do not swell. Therefore, a water washable plate not only helps the flexo printer to save costs on solvents, but also spare the energy needed for drying. Moreover, not only this, the flexo printer saves at minimum 45 minutes of time, which can be dedicated to producing saleable product.

Business case:

For one m² of plate, the printer needs 6 litres of solvents on average, which means at least 21 Euro is spent easily per m² of plate. The drying time, which is at best an hour, is estimated at 22 cents. In addition, the labour cost is calculated at an average rate of 45 Euro per hour.

cost saving

Compared to a solvent processed plate, the time saved with a water washable plate is at minimum 45 minutes. Thus, solvents of 6 litres are saved per m² of plate along with 45 minutes of energy and 45 minutes of labour costs.

Solvent savings are (@ €3,50 per litre) €21/m²
Energy savings are (6kWH dryer at €0,05/m²)  €0,225/m²
Labour cost savings are (@ €45/hour) €33,75/m²
Total savings are €54,98/m²

For a printer that is consuming ca. 2.000 m² per year this equals to savings of;
12.000 litre solvents = €42.000
9.000kWh = €450
1.500 hours = €67.500

All in all a printer like this can potentially save up to €109.950 on an annual basis. In fact, the savings are even more (not taken not account here) as there is no need to remove the solvents or polymers from the site. And for printers who have their own distillation unit to regenerate solvents, quite a substantial amount of energy spent on the distillation process and the exhaust systems needed for ventilation are saved.

And a water washable plate not only helps in cost saving, but it is also an environment and operator friendly solution.