CAE is pushing the boundaries in ceramic anilox engraving with advanced laser technologies, writes Karen Stretch.

With its strategic blend of advanced technology, engineering expertise and technical support, Ceramic Anilox Engravers (CAE) counts not only as a local but as a global leader in its field.

CAE’s core focus is on the development, production and supply of advanced anilox transfer technologies that ensure increased process efficiency, accuracy and low maintenance. A recent visit to the company’s state-of-the-art plant in Durban revealed what technical director, Paul Rich, describes as ‘South Africa’s bestkept secret’!



Often referred to as ‘the heart of the printing process’, anilox technology is a vital component in flexographic printing and, thanks plate-making advances, anilox innovation is vital for printers handling increasingly complex jobs. ‘We don’t wish to be considered simply a supplier but rather a strategic technology partner offering advanced products and services,’ Paul explains. ‘I believe our strong technical knowledge is critical to our future business success.’

It’s immediately apparent that no corners are cut in providing the most innovative technology for flexographic printing of narrow- and wide-web flexible packaging and corrugated board. In addition, CAE offers a host of speciality coating applications, plus associated products and services such as doctor blades, ink proofing systems, cleaning products and consulting services.

‘This is just the tip of the iceberg,’ declares Paul. ‘Everyone in our team is dynamic, driven and passionate about our company and the various solutions and services we provide.’

Tools for the future

CAE is now proud to present ‘a new generation in laser-engraved anilox transfer technology’. This includes a bold revolution in advanced cell geometry using the latest laser engraving and coating techniques, taking flexographic printing to new levels.

CAE’s latest HD (high definition) MBV system from ALE – the first of its kind in South Africa and one of only a few worldwide – produces HD standard anilox cell geometries from 60lpi to 2 000lpi, and creates an assortment of custom cell engraving designs, which CAE believes will revolutionise anilox transfer technology.

HDLE (high-definition laser engraving) features a 500W (HD) fibre laser with the latest multi-beam setup for anilox engraving, micro anilox displacement, accurate control of pulse height and frequency, and specialised software called Custom Cell Design.

Paul considers the latter to be the system’s most advanced feature.

‘The MBV HD engraving system produces the unsurpassed quality standard in accurate cell structure and volume transfer requirements needed in today’s anilox roll production,’ he confirms. ‘Thanks to fibreoptic communications, there are no boundaries between the advancements in laser, software and communication protocols. We can now create advanced HD cell structures,’ he adds.

The Custom Cell Design software can be used to design a multitude of advanced processes and this ability to create complex engravings is a core feature. ‘Having Custom Cell Design allows us to define specific cell shapes and configurations via a graphic pixel grid. Once the cell has been designed the macro view option displays how cells will nest together with the selected drop values for each cell unit repeat,’ Paul explains. ‘Cell shape adjustments can be made by defining specific power levels to designated pixels to compensate for material flow during engraving. This advanced approach to engraving allows improved control of ceramic flow rates during engraving, generating more consistent cell walls and cell bottoms, and producing cell configurations that need little or no post-polishing,’ he adds.

Additional benefits include improved ink release, easy cleaning, good cell profile, unique cell shapes and geometries, and clean, uniform cell structures.

The whole package

Additionally, CAE has developed new-aged coating technologies for its anilox transfer systems. These are applied using P-Coat thermal coating equipment, allowing for optimum energy transfer and precision ‘Precise, accurate measurements are vital and provide indispensable information that press operators and print managers need to produce top-quality colour results.’ particle velocity. According to Neil Rich, CAE operations director, coating technology is one of the most critical aspects to producing unsurpassed quality levels.

‘We’re South Africa’s leading thermal coating expert and our P-Coat system produces two specialised coating technologies. Referred to as Pegasus Plus and Black Pearl HD, they’re used extensively in the production of our yCell, xCell and our latest eCell anilox transfer technologies,’ confirms Neil.

To ensure accurate inspection of anilox cell geometry and actual volumetric capabilities, CAE has invested in the latest AVMS (actual volume measuring systems) microscopic cell inspection system. ‘This gives us another huge advantage over our competitors who use outdated theoretical volume measurement calculations,’ Neil contends.

Accurate volumetric controls are critical in reducing downtime and improving colour matching and general print quality. Precise, accurate measurements are vital and provide indispensable information that press operators and print managers need to produce top-quality colour results.

‘Innovation is a core part of our culture here at CAE and we’ll continue to offer more than our customers expect,’ reiterates Paul. ‘With satisfied customers in South Africa, the rest of Africa, the Middle East, and now Europe and the US, we’re in the business of offering advanced anilox engraving solutions. Adding value to our customers’ operations is our priority and we’ve already launched a groundbreaking HD HVPTT anilox technology called eCell (HD) HDLE. It’s a paradigm shift in anilox transfer technology that can dramatically improve the amount of ink transfer on to a substrate. I guarantee it will add more “pop” to flexo, as never seen before!’ he concludes.

Ceramic Anilox Engravers
T +27 031 5691066

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