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Third state-of-the-art Esko Crystal line powers Contact Originators’ move into flexibles and labels markets

The addition of a third automated Esko Crystal line is now powering leading UK flexographic plates manufacturer Contact Originators (Contact) as it expands its offering into new markets.

The installation of the latest CDI Crystal XPS imager and exposing unit at the company’s site in Dukinfield, Manchester, makes the platemaking specialist the first in Europe to boast a fleet of three of the state-of-the art Esko flexo platemaking lines, renowned for delivering improved plate consistency and productivity. The move enables Contact - already a well-established and award-winning leader in the corrugated packaging sector – to increase its share of the flexible packaging and labels markets. Mike Ball, Esko Sales Account Manager, said he was delighted that Esko had been the partner of choice for Contact as they invest in significantly boosting their platemaking capacity as part of their strategic growth.

“The combination of the CDI Crystal flexo imager with the XPS Crystal exposing unit offers a perfect, consolidated flexo platemaking workflow, something the team at Contact are very familiar with as longstanding customers and early adopters of the technology,” he said. “The system excels in efficiency and delivers immediate tangible benefits, from reducing manual steps by half and minimizing errors to reduce plate waste, through to freeing up valuable operator time by more than 70%.

“The award-winning Esko Print Control Wizard software ensures a simplified, standardized approach to take process parameters like ink, printing press, substrate and aniloxes into consideration for screen and curve creation,” said Mike. “Outputting a set of Crystal Screens and curves used for plate exposing on this third CDI Crystal XPS, Contact has the setup in place to boost capacity and throughput while delivering the most optimal flexo print quality to its customers across the corrugated, wide web and labels sectors.”

Complementing an already impressive setup at Contact’s 32,500 ft2 super site, the latest CDI Crystal XPS has enabled the company to diversify its offering. Nick Mitchell, Operations Director of Contact Originators Group, said: “Following several months spent rebuilding and installing the best industry-leading and unique equipment, we are deep into the second phase of our strategic plan for growth. As we continue to gain market share in the flexibles and label markets while consolidating our already established corrugated business, we see it as vital to invest in our future.”

As one of the most established and trusted names in corrugated packaging prepress solutions, Contact’s world-class facility, equipment and reputation for quality, innovation and service makes the company ideally suited to the needs of today’s flexible packaging and label printers.

“Throughout 2023 we enjoyed an influx of new customers across all flexo print disciplines, including wide web flexibles,” he said. “The installation of a new CDI Crystal XPS represents the start of an exciting new era here at Contact. We always have one eye on the future and we are thrilled to be bringing the same level of expertise and best-in-class technologies on which we built our reputation in corrugated packaging to our customers in flexibles and labels.”

The latest CDI Crystal XPS is the beating heart of a new dedicated HD production hall for flexible packaging and label plates at the facility, and fully integrates into the company’s existing workflows.

“As a long-standing partner of Esko, Contact Originators is a business renowned for pushing the boundaries and investing in the latest technology to deliver the very best service to its customers,” added Mike Ball. “We are delighted to continue that relationship and to be a part of their journey.”

The Esko CDI is renowned for setting standards in flexo plate production, with proven laser imaging technology and high-resolution optics delivering superior plates, and reliability built in to ensure optimum productivity. The Esko XPS Crystal recently achieved both Certified Energy Savings and Dematerialization certifications from GreenCircle - the internationally recognized third-party certification entity that independently verifies the validity of sustainability claims.