Star product: Agfa Synaps OMF90

By Barney Cox, Monday 15 October 2018

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Agfa’s paper replacement with roots in the age of film can now be slipped into a wider range of applications with a new foldable variant.

synaps

What does the material do?

Agfa’s Synaps is a range of coated polyester designed for premium applications that need a robust and attractive stock that neither paper nor other plastics can provide. The principle attributes of Synaps are that it is tear resistant and waterproof.

When was it launched and what market is it aimed at?

The first Synaps products were launched a decade ago at Drupa 2008. OMF90 was launched at the start of 2018, as an additional thinner member of the range that is designed to be folded for applications such as maps and book sections.

“It’s ideal for rough environments and where it is going to be handled by wet and dirty hands,” says Agfa Materials marketing manager Werner Vandevelde. “One use for OMF90 has been a guide to dairy farming, which needs to quite literally stand up to use in the field.

“Other uses include for books and catalogues in a retail environment that need to withstand a lot of wear and tear.”

Broader applications for the rest of the range include pretty much anything where tear and water resistance are important including menu cards, plant tags, luggage labels and service manuals. Other uses include wobblers, shelf edge ticketing and light boxes.

How does it work?

While Agfa is best known in the printing industry today for it’s pre-press and wide-format UV inkjet hardware, workflow software and plates, the firm’s roots are in photo-sensitive films and papers. Synaps uses the firm’s (in the digital age underused) expertise in manufacturing and coating polyester that was previously used to produce motion picture, photographic, graphic arts and medical films, and applies that knowledge to produce specialist print media. Image quality and control of static are other attributes of Synaps that use Agfa’s historic strengths.

How does it differ from previous products?

Within the Synaps range are a number of grades and weights optimised for different printing processes and applications. The OM in the name denotes offset printing and a matt coating. The OM variant can be printed using offset, screen, flexo and gravure analogue processes and HP Indigo, UV inkjet and, with some precautions, HP Latex digital processes. The broader Synaps range also includes a version for dry toner printing Synaps Xerography Matt (XM) and two self-adhesive versions, one with permanent and one with removable glue. 

How fast is it?

Agfa says there is no impact on running speed of any print process when using Synaps instead of other media.

What is the USP?

“Ease of use, quality and robustness,” says Agfa Materials regional business manager Ingrid Paulussen. Due to the way Synaps is extruded it doesn’t have a grain, unlike paper and other plastics. For some applications, such as shelf wobblers, making sure the grain is running in the right direction can be crucial to ensure adequate strength for other synthetics. With Synaps (and other polyester) that isn’t an issue, which makes production planning and sheet layout to optimise material use much simpler and a way of saving money by making the most of every area of a sheet. 

Vandevelde argues that Agfa’s production setup, where it extrudes and coats the material itself, means it has greater control over product quality than rival brands that buy in the polyester to coat, which can result in batch to batch changes to the base. 

How easy is it to use?

“You don’t need to be a specialist in synthetic substrate printing or finishing,” says Paulussen.

Agfa says its expertise in chemistry and coating enabled it to develop a coating that means you don’t need to make any big changes to materials or working methods. 

“As a general principle media needs to adapt to the printing technology and not the other way around,” says Vandevelde. “A big secret of our material is the coating. You can use standard inks, the coating absorbs ink like paper, and you get the same productivity.”

That means if you only handle the odd job on Synaps there’s no need for the palaver of changing over inks. The tagline for the product is ‘Prints like paper’, which sums up Agfa’s claims for ease of use.

What training and support is on offer?

Merchant Premier Paper Group is the first line for customer support in the UK but Agfa does go out to customers too.

“We get a very low number of problems,” says Vandevelde. “We have a former printer in our service support team. We are very proud to work through even the most complex issues with our customers. It’s a very technical product and we have a lot of engineers in-house to support it.”

He adds that as the product is manufactured, coated and converted at Agfa’s Antwerp site it is able to produce custom sizes ‘relatively quickly’.

How much does it cost?

“Polyester is a more expensive material than other plastics,” says Vandevelde. However it’s not simply a case of comparing the price for the same number of sheets as there may be instances where the ability to drop into standard print and finishing methods and its unique properties could prove to be more cost effective than alternative synthetics or laminated paper. 


SPECIFICATIONS

Composition Coated polyester 

Weight/substance 90gsm (other weights up to 450gsm are available in the wider Synaps range)

Thickness/caliper 85microns

Sheet size 320x460mm, 460x640mm and 530x750mm. Custom sizes are also available

Price Depends on order

Contact Premier Paper 0121 313 1115 www.paper.co.uk 


LTERNATIVES

Arjobex Polyart

A clay-coated high-density polyethylene (HDPE) media available in weights from 75gsm for litho, 124gsm for Indigo and 118gsm for dry toner.

Contact Antalis 01530 505150 www.antalis.co.uk

Avery Dennison Hanita Dura-Go and DuraKote

Israeli coated plastic specialist Hanita, which was acquired by Avery Dennison in 2017, offers a range of synthetic media for digital printing including DuraKote, a polyester suitable for dry toner, and a broader range of plastics under the Dura-Go range with a coating for Indigo machines.

Contact Hanita +972 4 9859919 hanita.averydennison.com 

Yupo Blue

The Yupo Blue range of synthetic paper has recently been extended to include B2+ sheets for the bigger HP Indigo machines, available weights from 116gsm.

Contact Yupo +49 211 520 54 30 www.yupo.eu 

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