Is direct imaging of polymer flexo plates set to extend its influence for all applications? Lüscher AG of Switzerland, a manufacturer of electronic prepress equipment, obviously thinks so. It has acquired the assets of ZED Instruments. The UK-based company is a major pioneer of direct laser ablation technologies for the flexo and letterpress sectors. Renamed Lüscher Flexo, it has retained its existing staff and plans to relocate to Thame, about 40 miles west of London. ZED was formerly owned by The Moore Company, based in Westerly, RI. The Fulflex division supplies elastomer materials for use in direct ablation production and will continue to represent the new company in North America.
“With the direct ablation (positive) flexo process of ZED and the mask imaging (negative) process of Lüscher we have closed the loop and can offer a complete solution to all flexo printers and trade houses,” says Lars Janneryd, a Lüscher board member. Its first new product is FlexPose! Direct, a sealed CO2 laser system for direct ablation based on an improved version of the ZEDMini. The imaging system uses internal drum technology to image the mask layer of new types of digital polymer plates.
• In a related vein, BASF is to introduce a direct laser engraving technology for manufacturing seamless flexo sleeves. Nyloflex’s infinity ITR process allows sleeves to be made in around an hour using three processing steps. The sleeves can be either directly engraved or digitally imaged after first being coated with a laser ablative mask.
BASF will offer different grades of polymer plates, including Nyloflex LD for printing with UV inks on narrow-web presses.