As a leader in flexographic printing since 1989, Creative Labels, located in Troy, OH, offers top of the line customer service with state of the art equipment and processes at competitive pricing. The company's 15 employees operate Mark Andy presses ranging from 7" eight-color to 13" 10-color flexo presses. All work with water or UV inks.
"When we first started our business, like many others we operated used equipment. They included Mac systems with Adobe software, using an imagesetter and a film processor," says Dave Nosker, CEO, Creative Labels. "We started having an issue with our film processor, which was not being sold anymore because of the trend to direct-to-plate. We did some research and decided to install a flexo plate imager, although we were hesitant to pull the trigger and buy it outright. While it was not truly a direct system, there were a couple intermediate step–-the samples were promising. Unfortunately, the output was not consistent for the quality we needed. We would step labels three across by six, and there was color variation between the images. So, we decided to return the equipment."
That led Creative Labels to reach out to Esko. The company visited the Esko demo facility in Miamisburg, OH and was impressed with the quality of flexo plate imaging Esko could deliver–deciding to invest in a CDI Spark 2420 flexo plate imager. The CDI Spark 2420 specifically addresses the needs of tag and label printers. It images a full size 24" x 20" plate in 23 minutes.
"We were looking for consistent image-to-image output–a high-quality system that would help deliver the quality we needed, particularly when it came to reproducing highlight dots. With Esko, the first thing you think of is quality," comments Nosker. "We also wanted to continue using our existing plate processor. That was no problem because Esko is a supplier that works with almost all plate and equipment suppliers. While their offices are located locally, which makes it convenient for us, we are assured that they provide exceptional service.
"We also decided to invest in specialized transitional screening technology that combines AM screening in the mid-tones and FM screening in the highlights," adds Nosker "Once an image hits a certain value percentage dot, the image is reproduced with stochastic screens rather than traditional dots. It improves the smoothness of our flexo highlights and eliminates any hard edges."
Esko installed the imager and fingerprinted the press. "The process was easy. They also did a great job dialing in our proofing system. While we needed a slight adjustment when it was first installed, they immediately returned and re-profiled the system. Since then the output has been beautiful," says Nosker.
Creative Labels has been using its imager for about two and a half years. "We really like the exceptional quality from CDI plates. It has delivered us a step up in quality. The highlights are much smoother, while the vignettes are much cleaner and more consistent. There are no longer the hard lines that are found when the highlights reach the breaking point to zero," says Nosker. "Our company has a legacy winning many international printing awards. We consider ourselves high-quality printers, day in and day out. Many companies have chosen digital to get good four-color process, but we don't have to do that. Our quality will rival any digital printer. If you look at a label sample from a digital printer and put the job on our presses, you would not see a difference."
With the CDI and its new proofer, Creative Labels has saved a lot of prepress process time. "We have a certain group of aniloxes to work with each color," remarks Nosker. "If we use the same inks and aniloxes, we hit the colors, almost immediately, 90-95% of the time. We have been able to save money by reducing makereadies, perhaps 10%. We have also saved quite a few man-hours throughout each day.
"We produce a lot of jobs with flesh tones," he adds. "Before the CDI, they were kind of spotty and modeled. When you get to the flesh tones, there are many highlight dots. The CDI stepped up our printing quality of flesh tones. We have a client who requires as part of their corporate graphics a rainbow with color shifts from red to yellow to green to blue. Our client said it never printed so well before, with very smooth transitions.
"Our customers are extremely satisfied. We are not a 'me-too' company. We're a value-added resource for our customers. We do not compete with dollars, but with service and quality," concludes Nosker. "If you want to stay ahead of the competition, you have to stay ahead with your technology. Esko has demonstrated that the CDI is definitely the best imager to invest in. As far as we're concerned, with our Esko system Creative Labels is printing tomorrow's flexo today."