Esko unveils “pinnacle of flexo platemaking” at drupa with launch of new CDI Crystal XPS ‘Quartz Edition’

Esko has today unveiled the CDI Crystal XPS ‘Quartz Edition’, its newest innovation that sets incredible new standards in flexographic print quality and offers a genuine alternative to gravure. 

“This is the pinnacle of flexo platemaking,” said Pascal Thomas, Director of Flexo Business with Esko. “In flexible packaging, gravure is still widely considered as delivering the best in print quality. With this new innovation we are giving printers a way to match that print quality in flexography. We are raising the bar on quality to the very highest level and truly enabling flexo printers to achieve the optimum results for their customers.” 

A new top-of-the-line addition to the successful family of Esko CDI Crystal XPS plate imaging and exposing solutions, the CDI Crystal XPS ‘Quartz Edition’ combines the upgraded optics of the CDI Crystal with optimized Crystal Screening software. 

“Our new Quartz optical technology enables users to image higher frequency surface structures at 2000lpi (Q-Cells) with an imaging resolution of 4000ppi, providing another major leap forward in flexo plate imaging speed and print quality,” said Pacal. “Imaging at 4000ppi is nearly double the current industry standard, and microcells engraved in the solid ink areas at a 2000lpi resolution is proven to significantly boost ink transfer. The Esko CDI Crystal XPS ‘Quartz Edition’ sets a whole new standard for quality.” 

Market-leading flexo print quality 

The innovation is primarily targeted at label and packaging converters – and their premedia plate suppliers - who are intent on delivering market-leading flexo print quality. “The hardware and software combination delivers Esko Pixel+ Q-cell screens at 2000lpi resolution, which results in a previously unattainable behavior of solid areas, smooth highlights and ink density,” said Pacal. “What’s more, this is achieved with a single optics head, reducing complexity and further simplifying the process.” 

The Esko CDI Crystal XPS ‘Quartz Edition’ is compatible with solvent and water-based inks – delivering an increased density of up to 0.7 for water-based inks, which are becoming increasingly popular due to their sustainability benefits. 

The new CDI Crystal XPS ‘Quartz Edition’ delivers: 

• Unsurpassed quality – with smoother ink coverage, better contrast and deeper shadows 

• Solid ink density – increased by up to 0.7 to achieve new levels of depth 

• Solids are smoother – no pinholes or negative artefacts 

• Eliminate dot-bridging - negative small elements stay open longer and dot-bridging in screens is eliminated, keeping fades and pictures cleaner 

• Improved tonal range in print – higher ink laydown enables the usage of finer anilox rollers, and thus brilliant solids in combination with fine highlights and fades to zero 

• Sustainability gains - reduced ink usage and compatibility with water-based inks make sustainability goals achievable 

Greater accuracy, reduced ink usage, best quality print 

Jan De Roeck, Director of Marketing, Industry Relations & Strategy at Esko, said that with the new Esko CDI Crystal XPS ‘Quartz Edition’, Esko continues to deliver solutions that accelerate go-to-market while meeting the needs of customers. “This is a brand-new, top-of-the-line complete flexo platemaking solution, for those looking for the very best quality in flexo printing,” he said. 

Jan explained that the screening technology is an evolution from the award-winning Esko Print Control Wizard software, which uses all critical print parameters and variables – imaging resolution, exposure settings, plate, substrate, anilox, press type and inks – to simplify the flexo platemaking process. “The software standardizes the generation of Crystal Screens specifically used in combination with the XPS Crystal flexo plate LED UV exposure unit,” he said. “With the CDI Crystal XPS ‘Quartz Edition’ we are taking that to the next level, adding VQ (variable highlight Q-cells) and SQ (stochastic Q-cells) for unrivalled screening accuracy. 

“This is a perfect combination of Esko hardware and software,” he added. “The Quartz cells form in a flexo plate when exposed with the UV LED technology of the XPS Crystal, providing highly consistent and repeatable plate quality. 

“Put simply, the CDI Crystal XPS ‘Quartz Edition’ massively changes the game in flexo platemaking,” said Jan. “Not only does the technologically advanced system produce the most accurate and best quality plates, but it also reduces ink usage making them cleaner to use, and it does all this while delivering the absolute best quality final print.” 

The new Esko CDI Crystal XPS ‘Quartz Edition’ is compatible with all existing Esko software, so users can continue running all legacy jobs without ripping them again. It will be commercially available from late 2024, available in sizes 4835, 4260 and up to 5080.