Photopolymer printing plates are the primary product of MPH Flexographic. Recent investment in high resolution laser imaging has greatly increased the quality of flexographic, offset and letterpress plate stock available to MPH clients. A close relationship with the major plate manufacturers ensures MPH keeps it’s clients up to date with the latest developments in plate technology. Whereby all print methods look to the Lithographic process for the benchmark in print quality, flexo has comfortably reached the stage in development where there is little discernible difference to the end user.
Flexographic printing plates
Traditionally flexo plates are processed by the use of a chemical solvent, and this variety of plate is still available to clients, but most printers opt for DuPont’s Cyrel Thermal Fast system. The benefits are incredibly fast lead times, plates can be made and despatched if ordered as late as 2pm. It is not uncommon for a 1up artwork to arrive in the morning, be repro’d, proofed back in PDF format then step and repeated. By the afternoon the plates are made and packaged for delivery next day. Bureau work (step and repeated, repro’d artwork) lead times are even shorter as they bypass the studio and go straight through the production cycle at the shortest route.
Artwork is imaged onto the plate at an incredibly high 4000 dpi resolution ensuring an excellent, consistent highlight dot in halftone and process colour images. Text can be printed smaller enabling security print applications. These are among the many benefits of 4K high resolution imaging and is available on all plate varieties.
Letterpress printing plates
Led by flexographic plate making, photopolymer technology in general has moved on significantly in the last fifteen years. The knock on benefit for letterpress printers is that what was once a very manual process ie. producing a film negative, exposing a plate and washing it out is now very much more streamlined and error free.
The same high resolution laser imagers etch directly onto the latest highly developed photopolymer letterpress plate. Jobs that were once simply not viable for a letterpress press are being printed regularly by one of the longest serving processes in the print industry.
Letterpress embossing plates
A recent development has been the use of specially hardened letterpress plates for embossing on flexographic lines. Artwork is modified to create male and female, interlocking plate set developed as a cost saving alternative to metal dies. The impression cylinder and the print cylinder on a flexo unit are mounted with these plates along with special ‘zip’ bearer bars.