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Stephens & George goes chemistry-free with Azura TU

When Agfa Offset Solutions (now ECO3) introduced its chemistry-free plate in 2004, few would have expected printers the size of Stephens & George, which has a plate requirement of 230,000 m² per annum, to be utilizing Azura TU printing plates. Yet that is what happened, and the company is more than happy with their chemistry-free solution.

Over the years ECO3 has developed the award-winning patented Thermofuse technology on which the Azura printing plates are based further and introduced versions of Azura suitable for printers requiring higher volume plate production and longer print runs. 

Award-winning UK printer Stephens & George, based in Merthyr Tydfil, has the latest eight and ten-color presses and is one of the largest users of Azura plates imaging over 22,000 B1 plates per month, which are output on two platesetters capable of producing 95 Azura TU high-performance plates per hour.

Jamie Awford - Stephens & George
Jamie Awford, Prepress Manager - Stephens & George
Jamie Awford, Prepress Manager - Stephens & George

“We have not only managed to produce the volume of plates we required to keep our busy color presses rolling, but the switch to Azura has helped reduce our chemical usage by 95% which means significant cost savings in waste disposal,” explained Andrew Jones, managing director at Stephens & George. “In fact, the chemical processor waste has been reduced from 19,000 liters per annum to just 400 liters of non-toxic gum waste a month with the Azura CX clean-out unit requiring no mains water.”

“With the old processor I would have set aside three to four hours a week for routine maintenance, which used to eat into valuable production time. With the clean-out unit it takes no longer than half an hour,” commented Jamie Awford, prepress manager at Stephens & George.

ECO3 takes great pride in the fact that it has supplied Stephens & George with prepress solutions for many years and during this time has formed a close working relationship with the company. “The team at ECO3 understands our business so when they approached us with the option to change over to Azura TU we were keen to take advantage of the environmental benefits as well as the cost savings which could be achieved. I can honestly say that the switch has played a significant role in making our prepress more efficient,” concluded Andrew Jones.

2024 Update

Ten years after the above article was created, Stephens & George is still a loyal user of ECO3 plates. Together we created this video to celebrate our long-lasting partnership.