What Does "Clean" Really Mean?

Marketing messaging today can be overwhelming, especially with flexo photopolymer plates and the word “clean.” You hear terms like clean print, clean plate, prints clean, anti-fill, and more. It is safe to say all plate manufacturers want you to achieve cleaner print, and there are only so many ways to say it or even show it. You may have even seen our competitors using a stock photo we too have used to advertise our plates and technology (awkward). While we won’t mention our competitors by name, we all know improving plate cleanliness on press is a big benefit for flexo printing, but what does the “clean” really mean?

Clean - The MacDermid Plate Definition

First, if cleanliness on press must be improved, that means something must be dirty, right? “Dirty” print is a multi-factored issue and can be impacted by more than just the plate. Our friends at All Printing Resources (APR) did a great job explaining dirty print in their three-part blog post “Understanding Common Flexo Print Defects”, we recommend you check it out – Part 1 , Part 2, and Part 3. For now, we will focus on “clean” regarding photopolymer plates. 

Generally speaking, today’s “clean” messaging refers to how ink adheres (or doesn’t) to the plate on press. As a job runs, ink can build-up on the plate, leading to print issues like dot bridging and feather text and lines. To fix these issues, the press is stopped to clean the plates. This press downtime equates to lost time and ultimately lost revenue for a printer. As longer and longer print runs become the norm for flexo printing, the issue of stopping the press to clean the plates becomes more and more obvious. Additionally, each time a plate is cleaned, the potential for plate damage exists. Enter the need for “clean.” 

MacDermid introduced “Patented Clean Plate Technology” in 2017 with LUX ITPTM M and LUX ITP 60. These plates are known as first-to-market inherently flat-top dot plates, but the inclusion of clean plate technology may not be what people think when we mention these revolutionary plates. MacDermid expanded the LUX ITP portfolio with two more plates featuring Patented Clean Plate Technology -  LUX ITP EPIC® in 2018 and LUX ITP EDGE in 2019. The flat-top dots in-the-plate with these four products are a well-known feature, our goal now is to educate you on the clean plate technology feature.

Wait, another plate option - with four inherently flat-top dot plates featuring Patented Clean Plate Technology, MacDermid saw a need for a round-top dot option. Adding Digital MCP to our clean plate portfolio provides an option for tradeshops and print houses using a round top dot workflow. It’s clear we have the plate for any application, but what exactly is Patented Clean Plate Technology?

MacDermid’s Patented Clean Plate Technology improves plate cleanliness on press. The technology not only reduces ink build-up in-between dots and reverses, but it also makes the plate easier to clean when cleaning is required. The result is beneficial in plate efficiency, allowing for longer run lengths without cleaning. The reduction in ink build-up allows for smoother vignettes with less tendency for ink to print that has accumulated on the sidewalls of dots providing for smoother tonal gradations and a more aesthetically pleasing print result. Clean plate technology also improves plate life by reducing the physical cleaning requirement that ultimately impacts plate integrity regardless of how the cleaning is conducted. 

Above are images of selected portions of four plates. Each plate was run on press for the same amount of time. Plates A, B, and C have significant ink build-up remaining on the plate, while Digital MCP, with our Patented Clean Plate Technology, has minimal ink build-up.

The Proof Is In the Printing
MacDermid Graphics Solutions' premier flat-top dot plate, LUX ITP 60, provided superior, clean running results at Andrew Kohn. The plates were produced by Brandpack, a division of Graphic Packaging International Australia, using Esko Crystal XPS imaging technology for the latest print run of the flagship ALDI holiday carrier bag.

The LUX ITP 60 plates, featuring MacDermid’s Patented Clean Plate Technology, ran for 850,000 lineal meters at 370 mpm without plate cleaning even after stopping the press for lunch break and shift change. The plates showed zero visible dot gain change from the first impression to the last, and the job came up to color and matched the hardcopy proof first pull. The first job at 850,000 lineal meters was stopped as the bag forming conversion line could not keep up. Brandpack Operations Manager, Dean Scales noted, “The results of the LUX ITP 60 clean plate technology led to significant production productivity increase and less press consumable usage.”

A second print run started after the bagging machine caught up and ran an additional 550,000 lineal meters at 370 mpm without having to clean the plates. The plates are still in good condition, ready for the next print run. A total of 1.4 million lineal meters have run successfully without any visible dot gain change from the first impression to the last.

It's Time to Print Clean
Are you ready to improve your print and productivity with MacDermid’s Patented Clean Plate Technology? Contact us today to find the plate for your application!

By Leigh Carpenter

Leigh Carpenter, Marketing Manager, joined MacDermid in 2018. Leigh specializes in marketing communications at MGS creating content, campaigns, and managing tradeshows. She has extensive experience in many aspects of marketing such as competitive analysis, market positioning, and product management. Leigh earned a Bachelor of Science in Visual Communications Technology from Bowling Green State University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Florida

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