Sigma Labels is first in UAE to adopt Asahi Photoproducts AWP CleanPrint Water-Washable Plates

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Sigma Labels, a leading manufacturer of self-adhesive labels serving the Gulf Region, has implemented Asahi Photoproducts CleanPrint AWPTM water-washable flexographic plates, the first in the region to do so. Working with Asahi’s distributor in the region, Industrial Tools & Media (iTM), the company was able to install a new AWP™-2530 AA flexographic water-wash processor for use with the Asahi plates in record time and saw immediate results, quickly validating its investment decision and its trust in both iTM and Asahi.

“Before we installed this configuration, we were outsourcing solvent platemaking,” said Jagannath Wagle, Sigma’s owner. “It could take at least 10 to 12 hours to receive a set of plates, and if a plate was damaged during a run, we had to again wait a day to acquire the necessary replacement plates. Even so, we were able to run an average of 750 jobs per month on our BOBST M5 440 mm and two BOBST Mx370 mm flexo presses. Imagine our delight when, in the very first month of operation with the Asahi plates, we produced 950 jobs! That’s more than 30 changeovers across our two presses in a single day!”

Outstanding Quality and Consistency
Wagle reports that this increase in the number of jobs was made possible by the ability to produce a set of plates in as little as an hour, and because of the precise register of the Asahi plates and profiling everything across its workflow, the printer is able to get into color quickly with minimal waste, even the first time a job is run. With mechanical flexo presses, very often print cylinder banding is showing on the print. “With AWP water washable plates we have almost solved the banding issue completely and the quality and consistency are amazing,” Wagle added. “With our previous solvent-based plates, we were lucky to be able to maintain 3% to 5% dots. Now we can maintain 1% dots consistently for the highest possible quality.”

Implementation was a Breeze
According to Imad Shaban, Managing Director at iTM, Jagannath was a little hesitant to acquire in-plant plate making equipment due to solvent complexity.But as soon as Asahi opened up our region for this product, we approached him, ran several test jobs, and he immediately saw the benefits. In the UAE, we were all able to get vaccinated as early as February, so it made it comfortable to do an on-site installation with remote support from Asahi. The staff at Sigma were very receptive– they absorbed all of the information very quickly and got up and running in record time, much faster than we expected. We couldn’t ask for a better client, and Asahi has also been a fantastic partner for us. As engineers, we always love new technology. But more importantly, in this case, we were able to demonstrate substantial cost cutting, productivity and quality improvements the CleanPrint technology produced, making Sigma’s investment decision easier than it might otherwise have been.”

Increasing Flexo’s Competitive Advantage
Both Wagle and Shaban noted that a key benefit of the Asahi CleanPrint AWP water-washable plates is their highly competitive positioning with respect to digital label printing. “When you can do 30 job changeovers in a day, 950 jobs in a month, and deliver work to a customer in as little as three hours, flexography is highly competitive with digital printing,” Wagle said. “Plus, we are also well positioned now to seek out shorter run work we would not be able to cost-effectively produce with conventional solvent plate making for flexo printing, while at the same time delivering the exceptional quality our customers have quickly begun to expect from us. We are delighted with our investment, and our future prospects are bright for continued growth!”