Prepress Technology that Improves On-Press Performance

By Wayne Peachey, SGS International 

The past 40 years have proven that no new technology can be ignored, and each new development has the ability to be a game changer.

“The key is in understanding our customers’ processes and in the delivery of appropriate, relevant solutions,” says Wayne Peachey, Europe-based Business Development Director at SGS International.

“New technology isn’t always about making a cheaper widget; it’s about finding a better model for delivering quality and service, often changing the way we work,” he explains, adding, “It changes the boundaries between established roles and helps us to find better ways to serve our customers. We are constantly developing equipment and processes and finding applications for new products.”

SGS’s Cumbria, UK, location is a showcase for recent and emerging technology, with HD, In The Round (ITR), automated plate cutting, and fully automated plate mounting.

“ITR is an excellent product; our customers love the perfect registration and the sleeves seem to run a lot longer than conventional plates, with a great print result,” explains Richard Pearson, General Manager at SGS Cumbria.

The sleeve technology has a place within flexo, especially for longer print runs or challenging designs for registration. One recent design—Brace’s Thick White Loaf—printed at Amcor Ledbury, used ITR sleeves and won the FlexoTech award for “Best Print – Flexible Packaging (Line and Solid).”

An award-winning”‘In The Round” print sample.

“We are delighted that Amcor won this award with our sleeves,” Richard continued. “We pride ourselves on quality and service. We run virtually 24/7, and our response times are second to none. We have produced sleeves for the past seven years and have a dedicated and experienced team who will always go the extra mile for our customers.”


Caption: In The Round sleeve production

Another recent technological advance is the Esko Kongsberg automatic cutting table. SGS now has one at each of its UK plate-making locations, and the machines are used to cut out plates to a required design.

Originally developed for the creation of cardboard mock-ups, the Kongsberg cutting table is proving to be an important addition to the standard plate-making room equipment, as it will cut plates precisely, in a fraction of the time it would take to cut out by hand.

“When we tested this device, we were amazed by the accuracy of the cuts, which are much finer than can be achieved by hand,” said Dave Skinner, SGS’s Senior Sales Manager. “We are seeing increased uptake in this service,” Dave added. “Our customers find that the accuracy is excellent, plate gaps are minimised, and the precise cuts mean the plates are less likely to tear when removed from the cylinder.

“The Kongsberg also saves lots of time in mounting. It’s much easier for a mounting department to keep up with busy printing presses. Tricky cuts can take a very long time when cut by hand, but this machine just does what it is told and handles staggers and nesting with ease. In fact, some customers are asking us to use it on every job.”


Caption: Kongsberg automatic plate cutting

At SGS Cumbria, the Kongsberg table works hand-in-hand with an AVA Flexologic Fully Automated Mounting Machine (FAMM). This device feeds the plates along a conveyor to the sleeve, registers via microdots and then automatically mounts the plate.

“We often deliver our products through to the press. The FAMM result is a sleeve that is much more accurately mounted than by hand; therefore, registration is more accurate and make-ready time reduced,” Richard Pearson explained.


Caption: Fully automated plate mounting.

New technology is becoming available at an exponential rate. Keeping pace, but also buying the right equipment, is the key to being successful.

“SGS’s strength is that we have many locations around the globe,” Wayne Peachey said, adding, “Through this, we can learn and share experiences across the organisation. Indeed, we see new developments way ahead of the market and often help our suppliers to bring new and relevant offerings to their markets. For example, we are working with every new HD plate-making system and bringing the best, most relevant products to our customers. HD is changing the way buyers view flexo versus gravure, and that can’t be a bad thing!

“We are also able to scale-up from supplying graphics and plates to a full ‘facilities management’ solution. SGS is very customer focused, and we also have the size and backing to commit to large scale endeavours.”

Caption: SGS team members Mike Johnston, Wayne Peachey, Margaret Pearson,
Stephen Gardner and Chris Stead.

Further information can be obtained from Wayne Peachey, Business Development Director,

1 Comment

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One Response to Prepress Technology that Improves On-Press Performance

  1. Is there any overview about all the tradeshops producing ITR-sleeves with HD-Flexo yet?