AKL Flexo Technik
Expectations of a bright future for flexo sleeve technology have prompted Stork Prints Group to acquire AKL Flexo Technik, a leading producer and innovator of in-the-round flexo sleeves. Stork manufactures flexo engraving devices and ancillaries and gains AKL’s technical expertise and a complementary product portfolio. The overall aim is to develop open-platform sleeve packages. AKL can plug into Stork’s R&D and financial resources, plus its global distribution network, to assist expansion and improve customer service.
Stork Prints appointed Edward Scheppink, its former commercial manager for sleeve products, as the new managing director responsible for all sales and marketing activities. Ronald van de Meer, a cofounder of AKL in 1990, is the new technical manager at the company’s plant in Warburg, Germany. It has 50 employees and supplies a range of flexo products to global repro and printing houses. These include the OptiFlex thin sleeve, which is compatible with any photopolymer material. Customers can therefore freely select the material with the best qualities or hardness to suit particular print runs.
Scheppink singled out the growth of flexible packaging — more of which is produced on narrow and mid-web flexo presses — as providing a boost for in-the-round flexo sleeve imaging. It had increased the need for seamless/endless printing formes produced with either laser ablation mask techniques or using the direct laser engraving method. “AKL Flexo Technik’s expertise in this area will be instrumental in helping us find ways to reduce further the cost of ownership of flexography. A crucial step in achieving this is the development of fully compatible seamlesss printing formes, which offer a fast and easy transfer from prepress to printing stage, and ease of setup.”