Manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to save waste and produce more sustainable products to alleviate consumers’ concerns about the impact of flexible packaging production on the environment. Many brands are moving from filmic substrates to paper-based materials to meet demands for the reduction or elimination of plastic packaging.
The nyloflex FTM digital flexo plate has been developed by Xsys to allow converters to address those paper applications in flexo printing more easily, by facilitating the switch from solvent-to-water-based printing. Introduced to the market in early 2021, it is the result of the drive-by Xsys to deliver sustainable solutions for flexo printing that are also cost-effective in production.
After several print trials, Saint André Plastique determined that the nyloflex FTM digital could help them optimize print production. “We are currently working on expanding paper-based alternatives to plastics in order to adapt our business to new market needs and stricter regulations, so we decided to evaluate our plate inventory to see if there was room for improvement,” said Saint André Plastique president Fabienne Lebreton.
Growth and innovation
Situated on the outskirts of the village of Saint-André-de-l’Epine, in Manche, Normandy, Saint André Plastique specializes in flexible packaging products, both paper and plastic mainly for the food industry. The manufacturing company, which was established in 1973, remains in the hands of the founding family and is today headed up by Fabienne, who runs the company with her brother, general manager Mathias Lebreton.
Over the past few years, the company has significantly expanded its facilities and invested heavily in a new printing, converting and now extrusion machinery, a large-scale project. Having almost doubled its size the plant today employs over 170 people. The company’s exports make up around 22% of turnover and products are sent to many different countries mainly in Europe, including Belgium, Germany, Norway, Switzerland and the UK.
The innovation lies at the heart of the company’s ethos, with a research and development department working on new solutions to meet current requirements for sustainability, convenience and high quality. Amongst the in-house developed technologies, we find SAP Fresh, which increases the shelf life of fruits and vegetables via controlled permeability, Cook’n SAP microwaveable food packaging, paper touch finish available in matt and gloss, and a range of biodegradable materials.
Saint André Plastique has been nurturing its sustainable development approach for the past 15 years and actively participates in local and regional initiatives where members collectively work towards more responsible solutions. Finding the perfect flexo printing plate to support this work, as well as delivering high-quality print, is a key piece of the puzzle.
Created with inherent flat-top dot technology, the nyloflex FTM digital offers superior ink laydown and best-in-class highlights. It prints equally well on a wide range of both coated and uncoated papers where printers would previously have needed several plate types. Waste and costs can be reduced through the consolidation of jobs and a combination of solids and screens on the same plate. This also means storing a smaller plate inventory for a leaner operation.
“We have used plates from Flint Group, and now Xsys, for many years and always associate their products with high quality and innovation, which is why we turned to them when we wanted to improve image quality even further,” said the industrial director Jean-Michel Levoy.
“We are very impressed with the performance of the new nyloflex FTM plate, which allows us to maintain color consistency and repeatability, and that is incredibly important in the flexible packaging segment,” said Levoy. “The plate has an excellent transfer rate which translates to a very high printing resolution even on uncoated paper.”
The company also chose to incorporate the nyloflex FTM digital into production to capitalize on the flexo plate’s productivity benefits. In addition, because the plate comes with built-in flat-top dot technology, it slots right into the workflow at Saint André Plastique without the need for any additional special equipment or auxiliaries, meaning the company can expose the plate in its existing system before the solvent processing takes place.
A real partnership
The in-house pre-press department at Saint André Plastique has always strived to improve the image quality printed on the company’s flexo presses and find new sustainable ways of working. This setup makes it possible to test new solutions, such as plates, and directly analyze the result obtained on press.
“Being 100% integrated with pre-press, plate making and printing on the same premises means that we are in complete control of the whole process,” said Levoy. “That also gives us a speed advantage so we can implement new solutions, such as the nyloflex FTM, and deliver great results to our customers very quickly.”
He concludes, “We have a real partnership with the Xsys team, they support our drive for ever-increasing quality and sustainability in every way they can with products, knowhow and service. We certainly enjoy all the benefits of their innovations, and the excellent potential we are now realising with the new nyloflex FTM digital plate is very typical of that great relationship.”