DEHN moves to digital platemaking with new ThermoFlexX imager

The German electrical engineering company has digitalized the imaging process with the installation of an XSYS ThermoFlexX 30 for the production of pad printing plates. The conversion from analogue to digital has drastically reduced the throughput time and increased consistency and quality thanks to the highly innovative technical characteristics of the new solution.

Accelerating production with digital imaging

DEHN is a global specialist in the fields of surge and lightning protection as well as safety equipment. In production, the company works with many types of printing technologies including inkjet, laser, direct thermal and pad printing to make components for a wide variety of devices and systems. Having in-house printing facilities not only speeds up production and controls cost, it improves supply chain traceability and facilitates the implementation of product design changes very quickly.

Until recently, the company relied on time-consuming analogue photopolymer plates for their pad printing operation. This involved a number of manual steps, including positioning the print image by hand, while the plate imaging was performed with traditional tube exposure.

“The analogue process we had in place before was a real bottleneck in our workflow,” said Willibald Fink, Head of Special Projects at DEHN SE. “It involved getting the artwork created externally, before making the plate in-house using mechanical processes and exposures. Altogether, this took about a week. In addition, the in-house processing tied-up the platemaking for as long as an hour.”

Wanting to streamline and optimize the workflow while removing the risk of human error, DEHN decided it was time to go digital and invest in an imager that would allow them to improve the print resolution and quality, whilst also reducing waste of plate materials and energy consumption for improved sustainability and lower costs. Once DEHN was convinced of the high accuracy of the laser and the speed at which plates could be produced, they placed an order with XSYS for a ThermoFlexX30.

“We are known for our consistently high product quality but that doesn’t stop us from striving to improve further with innovative and future-oriented logistics and production technologies combined with modern ergonomics. As we move to digital platemaking, choosing the ThermoFlexX imager is a small but very important piece of the puzzle that will help DEHN be even more successful,” added Harald Daffner, Head of SPD assembly at DEHN SE.

Finding the optimal solution

The ThermoFlexX 30 Imager from XSYS is designed for the imaging of photopolymer plates for flexographic and letterpress printing as well as direct engraving of pad printing plates as part of a digital workflow. At DEHN, the imager is used with the XSYS nyloprint® DLE S 30 pad printing plates – a combination of best-in-class technologies that offers superior printing quality at a resolution of up to 5080 dpi.

The ThermoFlexX imager operates a fibre laser with the option of simultaneously imaging multiple plates at different resolutions which significantly lowers waste and increases efficiency. To handle the steel-backed nyloprint® plates, the device has been fitted with the hybrid drum option and customized register pins. “The conversion from analogue to digital processes has not only reduced the throughput time to about 10 minutes (from digital template to imaged plate), but the repeatability is also much higher; in part thanks to the register pins incorporated on the drum which correspond precisely to the holes in the plate,” said Harald Daffner. All in all, the new device contributes to process optimization and, as a result, to better product availability and increased sustainability.

Full satisfaction and great support

Although the partnership with XSYS was only established very recently with the purchase of the new imager, this addition to the platemaking department has certainly impressed the team at DEHN.

Furthermore, the comprehensive service and support offered by XSYS facilitated a smoother set up phase allowing DEHN to progress rapidly with the switchover to digital.

“We received good on-site support and the overall cooperation with XSYS has been excellent” concluded Harald Daffner.